HOW PRODUCTS WERE EVALUATED:
How Products were Selected:
Products were selected to represent those commonly sold and/or available in the U.S. ConsumerLab.com purchased products on the open market through retail stores, online retailers, or direct sales. Products were not accepted directly from manufacturers.
Products were analyzed in one or more independent laboratories for the following:
Any product not passing testing was sent to another independent laboratory to repeat testing for the criterion on which it did not pass.
- Products claiming to contain ingredient levels of at least 10% of the adult recommended Daily Value (DV) at their maximum suggested daily serving size were analyzed for their vitamin and mineral index elements (one oil-soluble vitamin, one water-soluble vitamin, and one mineral; prioritized in the order shown in paragraph 1 of "Passing Score" below) using the AOAC (Association of Analytical Communities), USP (United States Pharmacopeia) or other appropriate methods for multivitamin/Multimineral formulations.
- Analyses for lead, arsenic, cadmium, and minerals performed using an Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectroscopy (ICP-MS) for products containing whole herbs and/or any vitamin supplement containing minerals including dicalcium phosphate.
- Prenatal products will be analyzed for iodine content by appropriate methodology.
- Products contracted in the voluntary Quality Certification Program (QCP) claiming to be Gluten Free were analyzed for gluten by Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA).
- Disintegration of non-chewable, non-capsule and non-time-release formulations utilizing United States Pharmacopeia (USP) <2040> methods.
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 be approved by Consumerlab.com, a product a product had to meet the following requirements.
A "Pass" was based on the above criteria in either the first or second rounds of testing.
- 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, or less than 50 mg of vitamin C, must contain at least 100% and no more than 25 mg over the claimed amount.
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).
- Oil—soluble vitamins
- 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 any vitamin supplement containing minerals including dicalcium phosphate 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 nor 4.0 mcg per daily serving.
- If marketed for use by children, may not exceed 3.0 micrograms of cadmium per recommended daily serving (based on Canada's limit for a child weighing 75 lbs.). If not marketed for use by children, may not exceed 4.1 micrograms of cadmium per recommended daily serving (based on the State of California's Prop 65 limit).
- Contains less than 10 micrograms of total arsenic and no more than 5 micrograms of inorganic arsenic per daily serving (EPA limits and state of New Jersey limits — based on 1 liter of water).
- Gluten: Products tested in the voluntary Quality Certification Program 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 for disintegration for dietary supplements (excluding capsule, chewable, sublingual, 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 if it considers such product to display unacceptable variation in quality, present a safety risk or to provide misleading or inaccurate information in its labeling.
** Based on State of California's Prop 65 limits. California requires supplements exceeding this limit to bear a warning label regarding lead.
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