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Product Review: Multivitamin and Multimineral Supplements Review

How Products were Selected:
Products were selected to represent those commonly sold and/or available nationally in the U.S. and Canada. purchased products on the open market through retail stores, online retailers, catalogues, or multi-level marketing companies. Products were not accepted directly from manufacturers.

Testing Method:
Products were tested for the content of selected vitamins and minerals indexed below, their ability to disintegrate in solution (excluding chewable, enteric-coated and time-release products) and lead contamination.

Each product was tested for one or more of the vitamins or minerals from each category shown below. For each product, the first nutrient within each category was analyzed. However, if a product did not contain this nutrient, or did not contain this nutrient in an adequate amount appropriate for testing (as determined by, the next indexed nutrient in the category was analyzed instead. Iodine levels were tested in all prenatal products and products that claimed to contain it.

  • Oil-soluble vitamins:
    • Vitamin A (levels of beta carotene and retinol (retinyl acetate or palmitate) evaluated independently)
    • Vitamin E (natural and synthetic forms)
    • Vitamin D
  • Water-soluble vitamins
    • Folate/Folic Acid
    • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
    • B Vitamins
      • Niacin
      • Pyridoxine
      • Riboflavin
  • Minerals
    • Calcium
    • Iron
    • Zinc
    • Magnesium
    • Manganese
Products were analyzed for their indexed vitamins and minerals using USP (United States Pharmacopeia) and AOAC methods for Oil- and Water-soluble Vitamins. Analyses for minerals and lead were performed using Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectroscopy (ICP-MS) methodology. The analyses were conducted in independent laboratories to which the identities of the products were not disclosed.
Disintegration of non-chewable, non-capsule, non-enteric coated and non-time release formulations was analyzed by utilizing USP <2040>.
Products failing to meet any Passing Score for any of the analyses conducted were re-tested in a second independent laboratory using similar methods and instrumentation. may modify or use other appropriate test methods if necessary to test special product formulations.

Passing Score: *
To achieve a "Pass" in the testing, a product had to:
  1. Contain at least 100% and no more than 150% of its claimed amount of the indexed nutrient. For products claiming less than 10% of the adult DV for calcium, potassium, or magnesium, must contain at least 100% and no more than 50 mg over the claimed amount of those minerals.  Any product claiming vitamin A had to 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.
  2. Not exceed California Prop 65 levels for lead contamination in a recommended daily serving, i.e., contain less than 0.5 mcg of lead per daily serving with an additional allowance of 1.0 mcg for supplements containing 1,000 mg/day or more of elemental calcium and 0.5 mcg for supplements containing specific other minerals.** For supplements not marketed for use by children, provides an additional allowance of 0.5 mcg if containing 250 to 499 mg/day of elemental calcium, or 1.0 mcg if containing 500 to 999 mg/day of elemental calcium, and an allowance of 0.5 mcg if containing one whole herb (not extract) ingredient or 1.0 mcg for two or more whole herb ingredients. If a maximum recommended daily serving is not defined, a daily serving size will be determined and applied by CL.
  3. Meet recommended USP parameters for disintegration for dietary supplements (excluding capsule, enteric coated, chewable, and time-release products).
  4. Meet FDA labeling requirements.
A "Pass" was based on meeting the above criteria in either the first or second rounds of testing.

* Passing scores allow for specific margins of technical error associated with each analysis. 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.

** Based on State of California's Prop 65 lead limit.  California requires supplements exceeding this limit to bear a warning label regarding lead. 

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