Multivitamins: How Honest are Yours? (Consumer Lab Reports)

ConsumerLab.com recently tested 38 multivitamins to see which ones actually contained the amount of nutrients claimed in their labels. The results were a little more than disappointing- and worrisome.

Out of the multivitamins tested, it was found that many contained either too much or too little of certain nutrients. The report published today stated that almost a third did not stack up to what their nutrition labels claimed.

Although medications are closely watched by the federal Food and Drug Administration, supplements like vitamins are not regularly tested by any government agency. What this means is that there is no way of knowing whether a bottle of supplements actually contains what it claims. Independent testing is our only way of knowing. If you’re just now hearing about ConsumerLab.com, you might want to mosey on over to their site and consider purchasing a subscription. They currently offer a 12 month plan for $2.75/month and a 24 month plan at $2.25/month.

While low levels of certain nutrients can be a problem, doses that exceed the recommended amount are especially worrisome. Several of these products evaluated had this problem, including some made for children. If a problem was found during testing, the product was sent to a second lab for confirmation.

ConsumerLab focused on some of the more important ingredients, such as calcium, vitamin A (retinol and beta-carotene), zinc, and iron. Cooperman and his colleagues also checked to see how quickly the tablets broke down in liquid. The body won’t be able to absorb as much of the  various nutrients if the pill doesn’t break down fast enough.

Among the supplements that had too little of a particular nutrient were:

-Trader Joe’s Vitamin Crusade: Containing just 59% of the vitamin A advertised on the label.

-Melaleuca Vitality Multivitamin & Mineral: Just 42% of the touted vitamin A.

-All One Active Seniors: Less than 2% of the beta-carotene, 73% of the retinol and 49% of the vitamin A listed on the label.

On the opposite spectrum: Centrum Chewables had the opposite problem, with 173% of the vitamin A listed on the label. This is particularly disturbing because too much vitamin A can be trouble.

“If you get too much vitamin A it can be toxic to your liver,” said Dr. Michael Cirigliano, an associate professor of medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Some of the children’s multivitamins tested, were found to have high levels of certain nutrients as well. An example is Hero Nutritionals Yummi Bears. If given at the suggested dose, would exceed recommendations for vitamin A  in children age 1 to 3. Higher levels of this nutrient in kids have been linked to liver abnormalities, bone weakening and problems with the nervous system, Cooperman noted.

There is however, a silver lining: Some of the best multivitamins tested were also the most inexpensive. So if it turns out your expensive multivitamin is on the “wolf in sheep’s clothing” list, feel better knowing that you can try out some of the more well received vitamins on the ConsumerLab.com list- at a decent price.

Among supplements that passed testing, there were many inexpensive options, such as:

-Equate Mature Multivitamin, at $0.03/ day

-Kirkland Signature Mature Multivitamins and Minerals Adult 50+ at $0.03/ day

-Flintsones Plus Bone Building Support at $0.14/ day.

What can you do about multivitamin safety?

-Email This article to your friends and family so that they  too are informed; Request that they pass along the information.

-Write to the companies that didn’t pass the ConsumerLab test and express your concerns. Letting them know you are going to spread the word.

-Write to the federal Food and Drug Administration with your request that multivitamin supplements be evaluated just like any medication.

-Write to the companies that carry these multivitamin brands, informing them of this information.

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One comment on “Multivitamins: How Honest are Yours? (Consumer Lab Reports)

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