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Do you find that as you get older you seem to suffer more from minor health symptoms which either [a] can't be identified or [b] can't be treated? I know I do. Although I'm a great supporter of conventional medicine, it's at these times that I sometimes look for alternative treatments. Healthspan is one of many companies offering nutritional and herbal supplements which may help.
Healthspan are based in Guernsey. I've noticed a growth in Channel Islands based companies which deliver to the UK recently. They often seem to be able to offer products more cheaply, perhaps due to tax laws. This is certainly the case with Healthspan: I used to by supplements at Tesco's but have found that Healthspan are cheaper.
Although there are other products which could be included, the product range is pretty good. There are 4 different kinds of multivitamins, along with a range of separate specific vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin B6. There are also nutritional supplements for specific purpose such as strengthening hair and nails.
Several herbal remedies are offered. These include St John's Wort [depression], Valerian with hops and lemon balm [insomnia], cranberry [urinary tract], pycnogenol [circulatory system], milk thistle [liver],ginseng and aloe vera amongst others.
Some of the supplements are recommended for particular
groups of people. For instance, the current magazine [May 2004] has an article on dieting which gives advice on supplements which may be useful during a weight-loss programme [multivitamin and mineral, essential fatty acids, probiotic and fibre - also CLA, co-enzyme Q10, alpha lipoic acid plus acetyl-l-carnitine, chromium, kelp and B vitamins]. I was particularly interest in the claims for the alpha lipoic acid and acetyl-l-carnitine [sold as 'Lipo-Carn'] which apparently slowed down aging in rats. There are several products recommended for older people, women and those who lead an active lifestyle. Children are catered for, with jelly multivitamins and a cod-liver oil product which, it is claimed, doesn't have the nasty taste!
I notice that some products are available in vegetarian gelatin-free capsules. Vegetarians may also be interested in Cerebrum and Flaxseed Oil [sources of Omega 3 oils - usually obtained from fish].
For those of you with pets, there is also a range of supplements for cats, dogs and horses called VetVits.
The catalogue has code letters next to each item, so that you can see which benefits are claimed for them. There are codes for active joints, bone health, cardo care, digestion, energy, good circulation, immune boosters, mental alertness, skin and hair, vegetarian, well-being and antioxidants.
Healthspan compares very well to supermarket, health food shops and brand name prices. For instance, their standard multi-vitamins ['Essential Multivitamins'] are £8.45 for 360 tablets - [almost] a year's supply. High Strength Omega 3 capsules are £8.95 for 360.
Most of the products seem to be sold in large quantities - usually about 120 to 360 tablets or capsules at a time. This is not a problem if you know you want the product and are going to use it, but might be inconvenient for someone who wants to order just a month's supply to try it. Luckily, some of the more expensive products do come in smaller quantities, for instance Lycopene is £13.45 for 60 capsules.
QUALITY I have no way of testing the quality of the products, so can't personally vouch for them. However, Healthspan do use quality as a selling point, and often mention it in their product descriptions. Take their cod liver oil. They mention that the Food Standards Agency tested33 cod liver oil products for dioxins and PCBs and the Healthspan product came out best. Healthspan say that all their ingredients are passed by qualified pharmacists and that their products are made in government approved factories.
There is no charge for delivery to the UK. Orders are despatched within 24 hours. However, as the orders are sent from the Channel Islands, I've found that they take a few days to arrive, and strangely, items within an order seem to be despatched separately and can arrive at different times. The items I've received have been well-packaged, in sturdy plastic tubs [unfortunately too large to go through the letterbox].
CUSTOMER SERVICE AND EASE OF USE
The website is easy to use. You can look for particular products, or search by condition [e.g. insomnia, bone health], or if you know what you want, bring up a list of all products and add them quickly to your basket. Ordering is simple, and your details can be saved for later to prevent you having to enter them again. There does not seem to be an order tracking function, but it is possible to contact the company by email or phone.
I would also recommend getting a copy of their catalogue. This comes as a glossy colour magazine with articles. I found the magazine easier to browse than the website, but the main advantage is that there are offers in the catalogue which are only available over the phone. Ordering by phone is easy, using a freephone number. Alternatively orders can be sent by fax or by post.
The articles from the catalogue are also available on the website, and make for interesting reading.
WOULD I RECOMMEND THIS COMPANY?
Yes! I don't have enough expertise to vouch for the quality or efficacy of their products, but they do seem to be good. Ordering has been problem-free, and the prices are good.
Good op! Not really my kind of site, I take multi vitamins from Boots through the winter and sometimes extra Vitamin C to fight off those nasty colds but that's about it! Tend to get most of my vitamins from eating excessive amounts of fruit! Sarah x
Evelyne 23.06.2004 15:36
Another thorough and excellent review. It would be nice if the website had a vitamin doctor feature where you could type in your ailments and get a response - maybe it does?!>?
ElizaF 23.06.2004 12:16
I like the idea of pet vits as we are finding it harder and harder to get the necessaries into an elderly male cat so this site may be a blessing :) xx E.