Products were selected to represent those commonly sold and/or available nationally in the U.S. and Canada. ConsumerLab.com purchased products on the open market through retail stores, online retailers, catalogues, or multi-level marketing companies. Products were not accepted directly from manufacturers.
Products were tested in one or more independent laboratories for the following
Products analyzed for their vitamin and mineral index elements (see below) using the AOAC, USP (United States Pharmacopeia) or other appropriate methods for multivitamin/Multimineral formulations or other appropriate methodology.
Analyses for lead, arsenic, cadmium and minerals performed using an ICP-MS (Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectroscopy) for products containing whole herbs and/or more than 250 mg of minerals per daily dose.
Prenatal products will be analyzed for iodine content by appropriate methodology.
Products claiming to Gluten Free will be analyzed by Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA).
Non-chewable, non-capsule and non-time-release formulations analyzed for disintegration utilizing United States Pharmacopeia (USP) <2040> recommendations entitled "Disintegration and Dissolution of Nutritional Supplements."
Any product not passing any initial testing criteria was sent to a second independent laboratory for repeat analysis using similar methodologies. ConsumerLab.com may modify or use other appropriate test methods if necessary to test special product formulations.
Identities of products were not disclosed to laboratories performing the testing.
To achieve a "Pass" in the testing, a product had to:
Contain at least 100% and no more than 165% of its claimed amount of oil soluble index vitamins, no more than 150% of its claimed amount of water soluble index vitamins and no more than 125% of the index minerals (as described below). For products claiming less than 10% of the adult DV for calcium, or magnesium, must contain at least 100% and no more than 25 mg over the claimed amount of those minerals.
Products are tested for at least one index element in each category. The first element within each applicable category is selected unless not claimed in the product, in which case, the next claimed element is selected. Any product claiming vitamin A must meet its claimed amount for total vitamin A (beta-carotene and retinol combined) as well as meet any claimed ratio of beta-carotene to total vitamin A. However, an overage must not cause the product to exceed any Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL).
Vitamin A (levels of beta carotene and retinal (retinyl acetate or palmitate evaluated independently) ) 100% (FDA) to 165% (USP 36)
Vitamin D 100% (FDA) to 165% (USP 36)
Vitamin E (natural and synthetic forms) 100% (FDA) to 165% (USP 36)
Water —soluble vitamins
Folic acid (folate) ) 100% (FDA) to 150% (USP 36)
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) 100% (FDA) to 150% (USP 36)
B Vitamins — Niacin or Pyridoxine or Riboflavin 100% (FDA) to 150% (USP 36)
Calcium 100% (FDA) to 125% (USP 36)
Iron 100% (FDA) to 125% (USP 36)
Zinc 100% (FDA) to 125% (USP 36)
Magnesium 100% (FDA) to 125% (USP 36)
Prenatal products must contain at least 100% (FDA) and no more than 165% (USP 36) of its claimed amount of iodine per daily serving.
Heavy Metals: Products containing whole herbs and/or more than 250 mg of minerals per daily dose
must not exceed the following limits:
Products marketed for use by children may not exceed the State of California's Prop 65 limits for lead in dietary supplements of 0.5 mcg per recommended daily serving with an additional allowance of 0.8 mcg if the product contains more than 1,000 mg/day of calcium.
Products with a single serving weights of less than 5 grams which are not marketed for use by children, may not exceed the State of California's Prop 65 limits for lead in dietary supplements of 0.5 mcg per recommended daily serving with an additional allowance of 0.4 mcg if containing 250-999 mg/day of any combination of elemental calcium, magnesium and potassium or 0.8 mcg if containing more than 1,000 mg/day of any combination of these minerals. An additional allowance of 0.5 mcg is provided if containing 250-999 mg/day of whole herb (not extract) or 1.0 mcg if containing 1000 mg/day or more of whole herb (not extract). However, total lead allowance will not exceed 2 mcg.
Products with single serving weights of 5 grams or more which are not marketed for children may not exceed 2.5 mcg per serving or 4.0 mcg per daily serving.
Cadmium: Contain less than 0.3 micrograms of cadmium per gram (World Health Organization/ADI proposed in dried plant materials).
Arsenic: Contain less than 10 micrograms of total arsenic and no more than 5 micrograms of inorganic arsenic per daily serving (EPA limit - based on 1 liter of water).
Gluten: Products labeled "Gluten-free" must contain less than 20 ppm of gluten per serving (FDA); products with large serving sizes (>5 grams or 5 mL) must contain less than 5 ppm of gluten per serving (ConsumerLab.com applies this stricter requirement on products with larger servings).
If applicable to the product, it must meet recommended USP <2040> parameters of disintegration for dietary supplements (excluding capsule, chewable and time-release products).
Be in compliance with FDA labeling requirements.
Passing scores allow for specific margins of technical error associated with each analysis. ConsumerLab.com reserves the right to disqualify a product at any time from passing its testing if it considers such product to present a safety risk or to provide misleading or inaccurate information in its labeling.
** If available for sale in California, a product that exceeds the State of California's Prop 65 lead limit requires a warning label. However, with or without this warning label, a product cannot pass ConsumerLab.com testing if it exceeds the levels described in this paragraph.