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NOW Tests on Astaxanthin Purchased on and Confirms Quality Failings Continue to be Significant

Bloomingdale, IL (August 21, 2023) – NOW’s award-winning program testing unfamiliar brands sold on has expanded to include, given that platform’s increasing market share. This time the category was Astaxanthin products, motivated after a consumer contacted NOW and suggested problems in labeling and potencies. This is the 15th round of testing by NOW overall and started in 2017 when the company first tested suspicious supplement products.


The consumer purchased a 24 mg product on Amazon and believed the product was mislabeled based on the oil color and measured weight inside the softgel. That dosage, 24 mg, is a very high potency for Astaxanthin and prices advertised seemed too good to be true. 


Astaxanthin is a reddish carotenoid antioxidant naturally derived from algae such as Haematococcus pluvialis. It can also be made synthetically.  The food industry uses astaxanthin as a colorant in salmon feed to give the fish a richer color. Astaxanthin as a supplement has become very popular, with demand continuing to grow. Potencies have increased over the years and NOW found three brands being sold today on Amazon at 24 mg. Astaxanthin is typically sold by producers in 1%-10% levels. This means that a 10% oil will require 100mg Astaxanthin algae in a softgel to get 10 mg label claim of Astaxanthin. Most Astaxanthin is sold in a liquid, oil-soluble form, which is packaged in softgels. Astaxanthin powders are more costly per gram, but still available.


NOW purchased two bottles of each product from 22 brands (including NOW) on both and It was obvious even before testing that many brands were mislabeling potency claims on the front label panel vs. the side panel.  Two tests were performed to assess the quality of each brand: HPTLC and HPLC. HPTLC (high-performance thin-layer chromatography), was used for identification of astaxanthin as coming from Haematococcus pluvialis algae.  HPLC (high-performance liquid chromatography) was used to quantify the amount of astaxanthin in tested products. NOW in-house labs tested astaxanthin by both techniques.


Externally, NOW sent one unopened bottle of each brand to Alkemist Labs to provide an independent report on the same products. HPTLC was performed by both NOW’s in-house lab and Alkemist Labs, an industry-leading botanical identification contract laboratory for identification of Astaxanthin.


Below are highlights of this testing group, as well as detailed assay results:

  • The products chosen were purchased from both Amazon and at the end of April 2023. These brands were picked because they are less known and sold almost entirely on these platforms.  NOW has not felt the need for testing health food store brands or practitioner brands, which it views as being less suspect.
  • NOW has tested some of the same brands previously in other categories and found many problems. For example, the aSquared brand has failed seven different product tests and has the worst record for potencies tested among all brands. This includes CoQ10 tested four different times from 2017-2022 and always testing below 50% of label claim. We Like Vitamins is another repeat offender, failing six different tests, and each of this brand’s potencies were less than 33% of label claim! While We Like Vitamins did pass two earlier tests, previous tests showed zero potency of both Bromelain and Phosphatidyl Serine. 
  • About one-third of brands tested here are new, first-time in our testing program. TerraVita has a drastic label error by claiming 450mg “Astaxanthin Algae” per dry capsule. The aSquared brand mislabels the supplements facts panel by stating “Astaxanthin 10 mg…yielding 5% potency.” This is very deceptive since the name of the product and Amazon’s description both clearly state “Max Strength 10mg”. We Like Vitamins does the same labeling trick but is more deceptive by adding “10% potency yield” in a small, barely legible font.  Later we found We Like Vitamins side panel to list the “10% potency yield” in normal font and another listing showed no “10% potency yield” on the label of their same product.

14 out of 22 samples failed potency testing and 13 out of the 14 failures contained less than 1 mg of astaxanthin. Each of the 24 mg products failed very badly, and the only gummy tested. 

“NOW does this testing to publicly report which brands are labeling accurately,” said Dan Richard, VP of Global Sales and Marketing, NOW health Group. “We welcome brands to communicate with NOW about these findings and openly share this information with all customers, industry trade groups and FDA.”



Founded by Elwood Richard in 1968 on the belief that natural is better, NOW has grown from a small family operation into one of the most highly respected manufacturers in the natural products industry. Still a family-owned company today, NOW provides customers with a comprehensive approach to wellness by offering more than 1,400 dietary supplements, functional foods, sports nutrition and health and beauty products. NOW is committed to offering safe, affordable products of the highest quality, and is a highly regarded advocate in the natural products industry. After 55 years in the natural products industry, NOW remains committed to its original mission – to provide value in products and services that empower people to lead healthier lives.

Trade Press Contact:

Suzanne Shelton 847-922-5454

[email protected]


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