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CONSUMERS WARNED OF PROBLEMS WITH MULTIVITAMINS
— ConsumerLab.com Uncovers Defects in Over Half of Products Tested —

WHITE PLAINS, NEW YORK — JANUARY 19, 2007 — Fifty-two percent of multivitamins recently selected for testing by ConsumerLab.com were found to be contaminated with lead, unable properly break apart, or to contain significantly more or less ingredient than claimed. Results were reported today on the website www.consumerlab.com. Multivitamins are the most popular supplement in the U.S., with sales growing 8.4% to $4.16 billion in 2005 according to Nutrition Business Journal.

Among twenty-one products for adults and children that ConsumerLab.com independently selected and tested, only ten met their claims and other quality standards. Some of the most serious problems were:

  • A women's multivitamin was contaminated with 15.3 micrograms of lead per daily serving. This is more than ten times the amount of lead permitted without a warning label in California — the only state to regulate lead in supplements — and several times the normal daily exposure to lead. Lead at this level may not in itself be toxic in adults, but lead is stored in the body and unnecessary exposure should be avoided. This product should not be shared with children, as they are susceptible to lead poisoning at levels as low as 6 micrograms per day.
  • A children's vitamin contained 216% of its labeled amount of vitamin A, potentially delivering amounts in excess of those tolerable in children up to eight years old. The product contained 5,400 IU of vitamin A in the retinol form in a daily serving of three gummy characters. The upper tolerable level (UL) set by the Institute of Medicine is 2,000 IU for children one to three years of age and 3,000 IU for those four to eight years old. Excess vitamin A in the retinol form is of concern as it may lead to bone weakening.
  • Three multis did not fully break apart (disintegrate), including a women's, a men's, and a one for seniors. Such products may pass through the body without being fully utilized.
  • One multivitamin contained none of its claimed vitamin A. Four others lacked their full expected amounts of vitamin A or folic acid, coming up short by 15% to 46%.

Two pet multivitamins were also tested. Both contained their claimed ingredients, but one was contaminated with lead — 1.4 micrograms in a daily serving.

Several products provided, by design, doses of certain nutrients that exceed tolerable upper intake levels (ULs). Exceeding these levels may be appropriate for specific medical conditions but carry a risk of adverse effects, such as skin tingling from niacin, nausea and weakness from magnesium, and immune deficiency and anemia from zinc.

"Multivitamin and multimineral supplements are often touted as insurance against nutritional deficiencies, but problems with multivitamins appear to be common," said Tod Cooperman, M.D., President of ConsumerLab.com. He added, "Compounding any problem is the fact that a multivitamin may be taken for years." ConsumerLab.com advises consumers to factor in other sources of nutrients in their diet when determining their need for a supplement and to check its lists when selecting products."

The new report is available at www.consumerlab.com/results/multivit.asp. The report provides results for thirty-two supplements of which ConsumerLab.com selected twenty-three. Nine were tested at the request of their manufacturers/distributors through CL's Voluntary Certification Program and are included for having passed testing. Also listed are seven products similar to ones that passed but sold under different brand names. The report also provides the latest recommended daily intake levels and upper tolerable limits for nutrients to help consumers choose appropriate products.

Brands included the new report are AARP, Centrum, Dr. Fuhrman Pixie-Vites, Eniva, Flintstones, Floradix (Salus-Haus), Healthy Moments Vitamin Strips, Kirkland (Costco), Member's Mark (Sam's), Nature's Bounty, Nature's Plus, NOW, Nutrilite, One A Day (Bayer), One Source (Perrigo), Pet-Tabs, Pharmanex, Pregnancy Plus — Dr. Grunebaum, Puritan's Pride, Swanson, The Greatest Vitamin in the World, The Vitamin Shoppe, 21st Century Pet Nutrition, TwinLab (IdeaSphere), Vitamin World, WEIL, WinFuel, and Yummi Bears (Hero Nutritionals). Products include tablets, caplets, capsules, chewables, liquids, strips, gummies, and powders.

Reviews of other popular types of supplements are also available at www.consumerlab.com. New reviews to be released in coming months cover alpha lipoic acid, eye health supplements (lutein and zeaxanthin, joint care supplements (glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM), milk thistle, multivitamins, SAMe and St. John's wort. This winter, ConsumerLab.com will publish the 2nd edition of the acclaimed paperback, ConsumerLab.com's Guide to Buying Vitamins and Supplements: What's Really in the Bottle?.

ConsumerLab.com is a leading provider of consumer information and independent evaluations of products that affect health and nutrition. 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. ConsumerLab.com is affiliated with PharmacyChecker.com, an evaluator of online pharmacies, and MedicareDrugPlans.com, which reviews and rates Medicare Part D plans. Subscription to ConsumerLab.com is available online. For group subscriptions or product testing contact Lisa Sabin, Vice President for Business Development, at lisa.sabin@consumerlab.com.



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