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Side–by–side: Comparison and review of USANA vitamins - CellSentials and Essentials

~ by Karen Lily, BSc (August 2017)

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 USANA producing a new formula for their multi vitamin and mineral product. (USANA are a manufacturer of high potency multi vitamins and other health related products.)

USANA scientists wrote an article on the differences - "What changed in the Essentials/CellSentials Formula" . It will be interesting to see what the article says 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 differences found by Vitamin Inspector in
CellSentials and Essentials
USANA statement:
Almost two-thirds of the ingredients have been modified in either dose or form of ingredient.
Vitamin Inspector:
This was asssessed 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%. (See also 1.)
Vitamin A comparison
USANA statement:
"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."
Vitamin Inspector:
Agree. See image below.
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.
Difference in Vitamin A - Essentials and CellSentials
Vitamin E and Mixed Tocopherol comparison
USANA statement:
"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."
Vitamin Inspector:
Agree: The new formula has half as much alpha-tocopherol and more than twice the amount of mixed tocopherols
Difference in Vitamin E - Essentials and CellSentials Difference in Mixed Tocopherols - Essentials and CellSentials
Vitamin K comparison
USANA statement:
"The CellSentials have a much larger dose of vitamin K than the Essentials. The CellSentials also have the addition of vitamin K2."
Vitamin Inspector:
True. The dose is 8 x greater and Vitamin K2 is also present.
Difference in Vitamin K - Essentials and CellSentials
InCelligence complex comparison
USANA statement:
"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."
Vitamin Inspector:
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.2

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".3

NB: It is easier to see these changes using CellSentials vs Essentials this time.
Difference in InCelligence complex - CellSentials and Essentials
Folic acid comparison
USANA statement:
In some markets folic acid was decreased in the CellSentials, in comparison to the Essentials.
Vitamin Inspector:
True. There is 40% less Folic Acid in CellSentials.
Folic acid - Essentials and CellSentials
Choline comparison
USANA statement:
The CellSentials contain over double the Choline of the Essentials.
Vitamin Inspector:
Yes. There is 2.5 times more choline in CellSentials.
Choline - Essentials and CellSentials

Large molecule
CellSentials vs Essentials
How does Vitamin Inspector's comparison stack up against the USANA Scientists' article?
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.
  • USANA seem to have good reasons for making changes to their forumula. Read the full article here.

You can support Vitamin Inspector by making a donation or buying one of the products compared.

USANA CellSentials

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  1. 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.
  2. Vitamin Inspector compares the ingredients stated on the label. It does not test multi-vitamins or other supplements.
  3. Nutritional Comparison, compares only the active ingredients line by line, not the 'other' or 'inactive' ingredients.