Side–by–side: Comparison and review of USANA vitamins – CellSentials and Essentials
~ by Karen Lily, BSc Computing and Information Systems
(published August 2017 – updated April 2020)
For some time I have wanted to show evidence to the public that Vitamin Inspector is a good tool for comparing multi-vitamins nutritionally. An opportunity to do this arose with USANA1 producing a new formula for their multi vitamin and mineral product.
USANA scientists wrote an article on the differences – “What changed in the Essentials/CellSentials Formula” . Unfortunately, they have removed the article from their website since this test was made and review written. Nevertheless it is interesting to see what the article said about the new formula and at the same time look at the differences that Vitamin Inspector shows when it does a software comparison on the labels. Will Vitamin Inspector agree with what the USANA scientists have said? Will it find other changes?
The formula for Essentials and CellSentials changes depending on where it is sold in the world. The USANA article concentrates mostly on the differences in the United States market. This review will also concentrate on the US market.
So, how does the new USANA multivitamin, CellSentials stack up against the older Essentials?
Vitamin Inspector is exactly the right tool to help us.
Let’s dive in and find out…
Comparing the USANA article to the differences found by Vitamin Inspector
Below are statements from USANA about the changes in the formula for CellSentials. Click on + signs to read USANA statement, whether Vitamin Inpsector detected the change and the Evidence.
How many ingredients have changed?
This was assessed by counting the changes shown.
- 16 x dose changes
- 2 definite changes in form (Selenium and Chromium)
- 3 x additions (Alpha lipoic acid, Resveratrol and Silicon)
- 3 x removals (Pomegranate, Cinnamon and Bilberry extracts).
From 41 active ingredients there are 24 changes, or 58%, which is close to two-thirds i.e 66%. 2
Vitamin A comparison
“The Essentials provided beta-carotene as the only source of vitamin A activity. The CellSentials deliver a combination of beta-carotene, retinyl acetate, and mixed carotenoids to provide vitamin A activity.”
Some people do not convert beta-carotene to Vitamin A efficiently, hence USANA has added retinyl acetate because it is more easily turned into Vitamin A.
Vitamin A Evidence
Essentials -vs- CellSentials
Vitamin E and Mixed Tocopherol comparison
“The Essentials provided vitamin E primarily as alpha-tocopherol. The CellSentials provide a more balanced approach to vitamin E activity with a lower dose of alpha-tocopherol and a much greater dose of mixed tocopherols (gamma, delta, and beta-tocopherols), all of which supply vitamin E activity.”
Agree: The new formula has half as much alpha-tocopherol and more than twice the amount of mixed tocopherols
Vitamin E Evidence
Essentials -vs- Cellsentials
Vitamin K comparison
“The CellSentials have a much larger dose of vitamin K than the Essentials. The CellSentials also have the addition of vitamin K2.”
True. The dose is 8 x greater and Vitamin K2 is also present.
Vitamin K Evidence
Essentials -vs- Cellsentials
InCelligence™ Complex comparison
“The CellSentials InCelligence complex has a much greater dose of Meriva curcumin, green tea extract, quercetin, hesperidin, and N-acetyl L-cysteine.
The CellSentials have an increased dose of alpha-lipoic acid, and resveratrol was added to the complex.”
The comparison does show that amount of curcumin has increased. The actual amounts of green tea extract, quercetin and hesperidin were not not listed in Essentials.3
Resveratrol can be seen as a new inclusion. The comparison does not show any alpha-lipoic acid in Essentials, but on investigation it was part of the “Other Ingredients”.4
NB: It is easier to see these changes using CellSentials vs Essentials this time.
InCelligence™ Complex Evidence
CellSentials -vs- Essentials
Folic Acid comparison
“In some markets folic acid was decreased in the CellSentials, in comparison to the Essentials.”
True. There is 40% less Folic Acid in CellSentials.
Folic Acid Evidence
Essentials -vs- Cellsentials
“The CellSentials contain over double the Choline of the Essentials.”
Yes. There is 2.5 times more choline in CellSentials.
Essentials -vs- Cellsentials
Summary of differences
The comparison by Vitamin Inspector backs ups what USANA says about the changes in their product.
It also shows some other changes that are not mentioned by USANA.
Other removals seen by Vitamin Inspector:
- Pomegranate extract
- Cinnamon extract
- Bilberry extract
Other additions seen by Vitamin Inspector:
- Silicon is showing as an addition although it was part of “Other ingredients” in Essentials
Note: Vitamin Inspector compared the USA product and the USANA review
was about their global product.
This review supports all the statements made by USANA and shows that Vitamin Inspector is indeed a good tool to find the differences between complex mutli-vitamin products.
What changed in the Essentials/Cellsentials Formula? (original article by USANA)
The Essentials provided beta-carotene as the only source of vitamin A activity. The CellSentials deliver a combination of beta-carotene, retinyl acetate, and mixed carotenoids to provide vitamin A activity. Recent research has indicated that some individuals have a limited ability to convert beta-carotene to vitamin A. Excess body weight can also reduce the efficiency of conversion, and there are genetic polymorphisms that decrease the ability to convert beta-carotene to vitamin A. Individuals may have different abilities to convert provitamin A carotenoids to vitamin A. These differences in conversion efficiency may be due to the genetic variability in beta-carotene metabolism of individuals. Consequently, provitamin A carotenoids alone may not be a good vitamin A source for those individuals of the poor converter phenotype.A combination of multiple sources of vitamin A activity ensures that the CellSentials provide an advanced dose of vitamin A to everyone, regardless of genetic differences.
The Essentials provided vitamin E primarily as alpha-tocopherol. The CellSentials provide a more balanced approach to vitamin E activity with a lower dose of alpha-tocopherol and a much greater dose of mixed tocopherols (gamma, delta, and beta-tocopherols), all of which supply vitamin E activity.In addition to their vitamin E activity, mixed tocopherols also serve as antioxidants and have a variety of biological activities that alpha-tocopherol alone cannot provide. Providing a broad range of tocopherols offers a valuable addition the health-supporting nutrients included in the new CellSentials.
The CellSentials have a much larger dose of vitamin K than the Essentials. The CellSentials also have the addition of vitamin K2.Vitamin K is an essential nutrient required for the normal biosynthesis and activation of several key proteins. It influences the level of osteocalcin in bone-forming cells, and may play a role in preventing postmenopausal osteoporosis.Vitamin K2, also called menaquinone, is produced by bacteria, including some found in the human intestinal tract. Research has shown that supplementing additional vitamin K2 may provide additional bone and cardiovascular health benefits.The CellSentials have much greater dose of iodine than the Essentials. Iodine is crucial for the production of thyroid hormones. Dietary surveys have shown that many people are becoming increasingly deficient in this important mineral, especially those limiting their salt intake.
The CellSentials InCelligence complex has a much greater dose of Meriva curcumin, green tea extract, quercetin, hesperidin, and N-acetyl L-cysteine.The individual components of the InCelligence complex each have unique health benefits and antioxidant protection. As a whole though, these phytochemicals can influence endogenous antioxidant production and cell signaling pathways to help promote healthy cell lifecycles.The CellSentials have an increased dose of alpha-lipoic acid, and resveratrol was added to the complex . The previous AO booster contained both alpha-lipoic acid and resveratrol. These ingredients are now included in the CellSentials InCelligence complex, in doses greater that were found in the separate AO booster.Alpha-lipoic acid is a vitamin-like antioxidant that is both fat and water-soluble and has the ability to regenerate other antioxidants back to active states.Resveratrol is a polyphenol found naturally in the skin of grapes, blueberries, raspberries, and mulberries. It is an antioxidant that may play an important role in supporting cardiovascular health. It is also an important part of the CellSentials InCelligence complex, as research shows that it may have an impact on endogenous antioxidant production and cell signaling pathways to help promote healthy cell lifecycles.In some markets folic acid was decreased in the CellSentials, in comparison to the Essentials.
USANA has always provided an advanced dosage of folic acid to ensure protection against neural tube defects. However, food fortification of folic acid has increased dietary intakes significantly. The folic acid dosage was lowered to a significant, but more moderate level to account for the increased dietary intake and to make room for increases in other important nutrients.
The CellSentials contain over double the Choline of the Essentials. Average choline intakes for men, women, older children, and during pregnancy are far below the Adequate Intake established by the Institute of Medicine. Choline is necessary for neurotransmitter synthesis (acetylcholine), cell-membrane signaling (phospholipids), lipid transport (lipoproteins), and methyl-group metabolism (homocysteine reduction). It is the major dietary source of methyl groups via the synthesis of S-adenosylmethionine.The CellSentials Core Minerals contains Calcium Ascorbate and Magnesium Ascorbate, two good bioavailable sources of these minerals. The use of Calcium Ascorbate and Magnesium ascorbate also moved much of the vitamin C from the Mega Antioxidant to the Mineral. As such it has multiple benefits. It provides both minerals and vitamin C in one tablet, in highly bioavailable forms, and it gave us more room in the Vita Antioxidant tablet to add some very important nutrients (such as the InCelligence Complex, increased choline, mixed carotenoids, additional mixed tocopherols, and additional vitamin K).
How to find quality vitamins
- USANA are a manufacturer of high potency multi vitamins and other health related products.
- There could also be other changes which Vitamin Inspector cannot assess, for instance, in the composition of extracts. Changes to inactive ingredients have not been counted.
- Vitamin Inspector compares the ingredients stated on the label. It does not test multi-vitamins in laboratories.
- Nutritional Comparison, compares only the active ingredients line by line, not the ‘other’ or ‘inactive’ ingredients.