ConsumerLab.com Tests Quality of Acai Berry Supplements and Beverages
— No Contamination Found But Health Benefits Remain Unproven. Caution Urged with Laxative Formulas and Billing Schemes —
White Plains, New York — Tuesday, August 25, 2009 — Acai berries have antioxidant properties and are a staple of the traditional Brazilian diet. In recent years, supplements and drinks made from acai have become popular in the U.S. due to extensive promotion and mention in the media as a "super fruit." However, there are no reliable tests to authenticate acai in these products. Concerned that products might contain unwanted ingredients, ConsumerLab.com recently purchased a half-dozen acai products and tested them for heavy metals, chlorinated pesticides, caffeine and undeclared stimulants.
ConsumerLab.com reported today that all of the selected products and six other acai supplements evaluated through its Voluntary Certification Program met quality criteria for the tested contaminants. However, ConsumerLab.com found that one acai "cleansing support" supplement lacked a required warning concerning potent laxative ingredients. Another with an unspecified amount of caffeine provided over 100 mg of the stimulant per day. Acai formulas with caffeine or laxatives are often promoted for weight loss or cleansing purposes.
According to the Nutrition Business Journal, total U.S. sales of acai reached $30 million in 2007, jumping 86% from 2006. SPINScan reported 121% additional growth in sales during 2008 in the health and natural food stores. Acai has been touted for reducing the risk of heart attack, Alzheimer's disease and cancers, although clinical studies have not been performed to support these benefits. Some companies selling acai products have been accused of unethical billing and/or advertising practices.
Dr. William Obermeyer, ConsumerLab.com Vice President of Research, cautioned consumers that "Acai itself has no proven benefit as a weight loss, 'cleansing,' or 'detox' supplement. Products marketed as such may contain other ingredients, such as powerful stimulant laxatives including cascara sagrada bark and senna leaf, which can be dangerous if used long-term." As a Natural Products Chemist at the FDA in 1990's, Dr. Obermeyer participated in a panel that investigated the deaths of several women who had used such laxatives. That investigation led the State of California to adopt a required warning label for stimulant laxatives. ConsumerLab.com strongly recommends that such warnings be present on all supplements containing stimulant laxatives to alert consumers of the potential safety concern with these ingredients.
The Acai Berry Supplements and Beverages Product Review is found at http://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/Acai Berry Supplements_Beverages_Review/acai/. It provides findings for six products that ConsumerLab.com selected for testing and six additional products that met quality criteria for contaminant testing and labeling in ConsumerLab.com's Voluntary Certification Program. It also includes information about two products similar to those tested. Brands included in the report are Acai Berry Detox, Acai Berry Edge, Amazon Thunder, Garden Greens, MonaVie, Nature's Bounty, Nature's Herbs, Pure Encapsulations, Puritan's Pride, Sambazon, Solgar, Swanson, The Vitamin Shoppe, and Vitamin World. The report also compares the listed amounts of acai and other ingredients in the products. Reviews of other popular types of supplements are available from www.consumerlab.com.
ConsumerLab.com is a leading provider of consumer information and independent evaluations of products that affect health and nutrition. Subscription to ConsumerLab.com is available online. The company is privately held and based in Westchester, New York. It has no ownership from, or interest in, companies that manufacture, distribute, or sell consumer products.