LIFEPAK

Nutritional Health Supplement Review


Manufactured By Pharmanex

General

'Nu Skin Enterprises' is an enormous and well-known US multi-national. Because it is a science-based company it invests heavily in product research and development, and its skin care/personal care products are extremely popular. LifePak is sold by  'Pharmanex' -  a division of Nu Skin.

Pharmanex, being the enormous company that it is, churns out a tremendous amount of marketing presentations surrounding LifePak. They certainly have the financial means to dazzle us with a tonne of scientific data, clinical studies and marketing literature. That however is not always as impressive as it may first appear.

Nu Skin has had it's fair share of problems with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the 1990's for "making deceptive or unsubstantiated claims about its products". And as late as 2016 Nu Skin agreed to pay a $47 million settlement for operating a pyramid scheme after being sued by China in a Utah federal court.(1)

So, let's take a closer look and see what there is to know about LifePak!

Note: 'LifePak has different versions . This review primarily examines the version marketed as 'LifePak'. Throughout the review I have referred to this as 'LifePak Regular' to differentiate it from the other 'LifePak' versions.

Strengths

Firstly I can't write anywhere near as much for LifePak, as I did In my review of 'Total Balance' ( from the 'Xtend-Life' Company) for 3 reasons.

1) There aren’t as many strengths. 

2) Pharmanex wouldn't supply me with as much information as the Xtend-Life company did. There was quite a lot they wouldn’t reveal.

3) I have never taken Lifepak so I can’t comment from personal experience.

A main strength of Lifepak can be seen through it's comprehensive formula - aimed at maintaining normal health and well-being (albeit to a significantly lesser degree than 'Total Balance').

LifePak offers excellent bone support. Well established 'bone health' nutrients are: calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin K, and zinc (along with Soy Isoflavones for Perimenopausal and early menopausal women).  LifePak regular contains all 5 with the inclusion of Soy Isoflavones in the LifePak 'Women' version.

At the time of writing this review, the head scientist for LifePak is Joseph Chang, Ph.D., and he has impressive credentials. Scientists with this level of experience are hard to find and very few are working in the supplement industry. (Unfortunately they tend to be found in the pharmaceutical industry!) The use of every ingredient in Lifepak is backed by numerous clinical studies.

Pharmanex’s manufacturing standards, although contracted out, are excellent but disappointingly not to Pharmaceutical GMP - which I would have expected from a company of this size and fame. The company did advise me that three of their processes reached this level (safety testing, certificates of analysis, and microbial testing).

Pharmanex is one of the few companies to set their own specifications for manufacturing and so their contract manufacturers would have initially had to 'conform' and meet these specs in order to win the manufacturing contract with Pharmanex.

Pharmanex holds ‘NSF certification’ – getting this involved a complex set of procedures to certify conformance with the FDA’s cGMP (current Good Manufacturing Practices - for food) and the NSF/ANSI Standard, which includes in-depth manufacturing facility audits, and laboratory testing for nutrient levels, labeling standards, and absence of contaminants.

Raw ingredient quality is definitely one of Pharmanex’s key strengths. 

They apply what they call their '6 S Process' (selection, sourcing, substantiation, standardization and safety) to ensure only the best, purest and safest raw ingredients are used.

You certainly won’t find any contaminants or adulterated ingredients in LifePak.

Pharmanex has done 2 double-blind placebo-controlled studies to measure the antioxidant levels in healthy, non-smokers. These tests show that people using LifePak experience increased antioxidant levels. 

Antioxidant benefits are a key strength for LifePak however we need to keep in mind that health must be assessed through a much wider set of health markers than just antioxidant levels. None-the-less, hopefully these tests will spur other leading supplement companies into action to find ways to measure or prove product claims.

LifePak contains 4 all-natural excipients (inactive ingredients) which is at the low/good end when it comes to excipients.

(A certain, extremely well-known multi-ingredient health supplement immediately comes to mind whenever I think about inactive ingredients. It's available for sale here in Australia as well as approximately 20 other countries including the United Kingdom and the U.S.A. If you happen to be using that supplement you're hard earned cash is paying for a ridiculous 62 excipients!  Here's a hint - the first initial of that supplement's name is 'C').

Customer service at Pharmanex is good. They responded to almost all of my emails and usually within 24 hours. They gave detailed and often lengthy answers, although it’s clear that most of these were pre-written. For a couple of tricky questions I posed, where there was obviously no prepared responses, their answers were wishy washy and skirted around the main issue(s).

HOWEVER - they wouldn't reveal quite a lot of the information I requested – info that hardly seems proprietary to me but which they believe is (e.g. how many hours for blending, type of blender used, breakdown and potencies of citrus bioflavonoids, potency of tocotrienols etc). 

I see that as a definite red flag!

Weaknesses

All the processes around LifePak are impressive and top notch but the product itself comes up short – at least in comparison to Total Balance. You can use this link to jump over to my Total Balance Review if you'd like to compare the two.

Lifepak is the most expensive of the initial 4 elite supplements used in my reviews and comparisons and yet contains the smallest amount of active ingredients per tablet and the least number of ingredients. Worst still.........

A whopping 87% of this total is just vitamins and minerals!!  

Sorry folks but Lifepak appears to me to be more like an 'expensive' multi vitamin and mineral supplement including 'some' important extras. In my opinion it does not offer good value for money.

Pharmanex does promote LifePak essentially as an "anti-aging formula" and  yes, many of the vitamins and minerals are scientifically established in supporting this role, however they also promote it as a 'nutritionally complete product' - a claim that is subject to a matter of 'degree'!

LifePak does not contain many of the expensive and highly efficacious key herbals and phytonutrients, which are so crucial for disease prevention and well-being, and has low amounts of most of the key ones it does contain (e.g. Grape Seed Extract, Quercetin and Soy Isoflavones). 

Lifepak 'regular' has no enzymes, no amino acids, no specific male or female support nutrients, other than isoflavones, and very few trace elements. If you move up to the LifePak ‘Prime’ version, aimed at 40 + year old men and postmenopausal women, (and pay more) then you get a few valuable extras. (See below)

If you have already read through a number of the pages at nutritional-supplement-truths.com, then you will probably already know my (anti) stance on high vitamin/mineral levels in premium health supplements .....BUT if you still feel that vitamin and minerals are essentially what you are after, and all you need, then you can get similar results with a far cheaper, quality multi-vitamin and mineral supplement – you certainly don’t need to pay the price of LifePak for this.

Half (55%) of an entire Lifepak tablet is composed of just two cheap micro-nutrients - vitamin C (buffered) and calcium!

If you add in magnesium then these 3 ingredients account for 68% of a LifePak tablet!


Considering the typical diets of consumers purchasing elite level supplements, along with the synergistic effects of the ingredients in Lifepak, I believe these 'overly generous' doses of calcium and vitamin C are going to be excessive for the majority of people. If that’s the case the excess will be lost straight down the toilet.

Sure - some women (particularly 50+ years) and adolescent girls need additional calcium - that's well established. But, as I said above, supplement consumers are health enthusiasts and tend to have fairly good diets to begin with. 

Most of them easily have adequate intake of calcium via their diet. I do not believe they form part of the population segments, shown in (misleading) surveys, indicating that large percentages of the U.S. population do not consume enough calcium. 

With respect to calcium the problem is usually not so much about not getting enough but rather a leaching of calcium from the bones - caused by diet! Professional grade health supplements should be formulated to address this specific issue.

Calcium is so cheap that if you feel you need additional calcium, or have been diagnosed with low levels, then you are best to purchase it separately. 

Supplements should not be loaded up with calcium and other vitamins and minerals that may or may not be needed. 

Ok - enough on the vitamin/mineral issue. 

If you want more beneficial ingredients then Pharmanex makes you pay for it.
Take, for example, nutrients that address women’s specific needs. 

For these you will have to move up to the ‘LifePak Women’ version and pay an extra $6.60. 

For this you get:

  • phosphorous
  • iron (which shouldn’t be taken unless you have been diagnosed with an iron
    deficiency or are pregnant)
  • extra vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium
  • extra isoflavones (definitely worth it)
  • cranberry powder (for urinary tract health – but not standardized)
  • evening primrose oil powder
  • borage oil powder

But none of the important hormone precursors (other than soy isoflavones). The additional 20 mg of isoflavones (over 'LifePak regular') is a important inclusion.

The Lifepak ‘Prime’ version disappointingly does virtually nothing to address prostate health which a primary consideration for men over 40 – the male target market for ‘Prime’. The only prostate nutrient it contains is a tiny 5mg of lycopene which is already in Lifepak regular. 

‘Prime’ gives you 7 extra ingredients for almost $13.00 more. These are good nutrients that I believe should be in Lifepak regular to begin with (without any additional cost!):

  • Glucosamine
  • N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine
  • Standardized Milk Thistle Extract
  • Standardized Gingko Biloba Extract
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • L-Glutathione (reduced)

NOTE: Co Q10 is an extremely expensive ingredient – at the time of writing there’s a worldwide shortage. Perhaps the pre-determined price point, to which LifePak is formulated, does not allow for enough CoQ10?

Many studies have shown that the bioavailability of Co Q10 is 5 - 10 %. Based on  this the 20 mg in 'LifePak Prime' isn’t enough. Only around 1 to 2 mg will be absorbed and this falls short of the established 5 mg needed from our daily diet.

The Lifepak 'money back guarantee' has too many conditions for my liking. Surely, consumers in the elite supplement niche who decide to make use of the guarantee, must be insignificant to a company the size of Pharmanex. So why so many conditions?? 

It gives a negative, consumer-unfriendly feel in my opinion! Companies should stand behind their product unconditionally - a continually improving trend these days.

I emailed the Xtend-Life company about this issue, since they have an unconditional 12 month money back guarantee on any unopened bottles, and they reported that the amount of customers who claim against the guarantee is "negligible".

On the subject of using a guarantee to return supplements I'd like to say this. Customers, such as yourself, who take their health seriously and shop at the top end of the supplement market, are knowledgeable consumers and don’t generally spend that kind of money without doing some product research first.

They understand that supplements take time (months/years) to work; that the results are often so subtle you can’t detect them at first (unless you are quite toxic to begin with); and that you should continue with supplements for life -  to properly address the health and wellness goals for which the product was initially purchased. Returning a supplement after a couple of months because you can't 'feel' anything is short-cutting your health.

Ok, let's move on and talk about PHYTONUTRIENTS  - also commonly refereed to as 'Phytochemicals'. The main classes of which are: 

  • Carotenoids
  • Flavonoids

Phytonutrients are the ingredients that you absolutely want to see making up a significant amount of your supplement. This is an extremely important point to understand.

These powerful plant based chemicals are constantly impressing scientists with their potent health promoting benefits which include the ability to fight and reverse disease. (There are over 600 of them found in nature!)

The ‘LifePak Challenge’ is a set of criteria which Pharmanex formulated, based on scientific studies, to compare dose amounts of important ingredients in LifePak against its competitors.  These criteria demonstrate that LifePak has significant amounts of carotenoids and flavonoids. 

Despite passing the LifePak Challenge criteria standards for carotenoid and flavonoid dose amounts, the overall phytonutrient total in 'LifePak regular' can only be seen as low if we compare with the supplement I use and recommend - 'Total Balance'.

Here are the Phytonutrient Totals from 5 market leading health supplements. As you can see, despite the 'LifePak Challenge', Lifepak  does not compare very well. THE DEVIL IS OFTEN IN THE DETAILS FOLKS

  • TB Men’s Standard - 691 mg
  • TB Women’s Standard - 591 mg
  • Life Force - 322 mg
  • Essentials - 219 mg
  • LifePak - 208 mg

Now we come to standardized herbal extracts - and the number of these in the LifePak formula is a very small number indeed!

Standardized herbal extracts represent another crucial category of ingredients that we want making up a significant amount of our supplement formula. Currently, the number of clinical studies being conducted on herbal extracts and showing positive health benefits (in many cases equal to or better than pharmaceutical drugs) is increasing exponentially.

Unfortunately LifePak regular contains only 2 standardized herbal extracts:

Grape Seed extract and catechins from Green Tea extract.


Comparing once again with Total Balance we see a large difference:

Total Balance Women's Premium - 15 Standardized Extracts

Total Balance Men's Premium - 13 Standardized Extracts

Grape Seed Extract is a well-known, strong antioxidant that has been well researched and shown to have numerous health benefits. To its credit Pharmanex has included Grape Seed Extract  at a very high 95% potency but disappointingly you only get 25 mg of this potent ingredient. If there were several more medicinal herbal extracts in the formula, to provide for more of a synergistic effect, then this small dose amount wouldn't standout as much as it does for me.

While there is no magic number for dose amounts of medicinal herbal extracts, except for those proven in clinical studies, I recommend you compare these powerhouse ingredients in any supplements you are interested in.

Note: 'LifePak Prime' has an additional two standardized extracts (Milk Thistle and Gingko) 50 mg of each.


My Final Take on Lifepak :

Pharmanex is a huge, multi-national, science-based company whose supplement formulators certainly know how to scientifically formulate a professional health supplement aimed at supporting and improving overall good health and well-being. 

The problem however, as I see it, is that they are held back by too many costs which prevents them from manufacturing a supplement equal to their 'formulation know-how'.

The most significant of these costs I'm referring to are: MLM marketing, a huge company structure and shareholder pressure. The influence of these costs are reflected in the predetermined price-point/range that the formulators would have had to originally work to. 

This in turn is reflected in the composition of the 'LifePak' formula - what ingredients are there and in what does amounts versus what ingredients are not included.

If these cost factors were reduced or eliminated (which they can’t be) I’m absolutely confident that Pharmanex would immediately churn out a much more efficacious 'Lifepak' offering much greater value for money.

Lifepak can certainly be considered an elite supplement, particularly with strong antioxidant benefits but in comparison with other market leading Supplements I see clear weaknesses and do not believe the value for money on offer is good enough.


Brett Seagrott

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nu_Skin_Enterprises "Nu Skin Enterprises". Retrieved February 8, 2019.

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