How a supplement company became a haven for health misinformation

On a Friday afternoon in July, as many New Yorkers fled the scorching city streets, a couple of dozen out-of-towners descended on Times Square. They came bearing gold letter balloons spelling out LFVN, the stock symbol for LifeVantage, the company they’d come to promote, and foam cutouts of its navy blue supplement bottles. LifeVantage’s chief executive officer, Steve Fife, rang the Nasdaq exchange’s closing bell, a celebration of the Utah-based company’s new products and rewards programs. Displayed on the side of the seven-story Nasdaq building were advertisements promoting the company’s dietary supplements and their power to “optimize health.”

At first glance, LifeVantage, worth some $84 million, looks decidedly mainstream. It boasts plaudits from Nasdaq, has blue-chip investors like Fidelity and BlackRock, and Erin Brockovich, the iconic crusader for corporate accountability, sits on its board of directors. Its products are widely available; a bottle of its main supplement goes for around…
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