White Plains, New York, January 12, 2016 —
You can't always judge a supplement by its label -- or by its price, according to a new report
from ConsumerLab.com, which recently tested dozens of multivitamin/multimineral supplements. "Consumers should know that multivitamins vary widely in quality, with some providing far more or less ingredient than claimed," says Tod Cooperman, M.D., President of ConsumerLab.com. "Fortunately, we discovered that you don't have to spend a lot to get a good multivitamin." Americans spend over $5 billion per year on multivitamins according to Nutrition Business Journal.
ConsumerLab.com found that among the 41 multivitamins sold in the U.S. and Canada (including three products for pets) which it selected for review, 13 failed to pass tests necessary to obtain ConsumerLab.com approval. Several products also exceeded tolerable intake limits established by the Institute of Medicine for nutrients such as niacin, vitamin A, folate, and magnesium. Exceeding these levels puts one at increased risk for side effects and toxicities, although this may be appropriate in certain situations. Higher price did not mean higher quality: Many inexpensive multivitamins (costing less than 10 cents per day) passed all tests and gained approval, while several more expensive products (costing more than 40 cents per day) failed to be approved.
ConsumerLab.com tested multivitamins for key water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, contamination with the heavy metals lead, cadmium, and arsenic, and checked for proper labeling. Tablets were also checked to make sure they would disintegrate properly.
Key findings, by type of multivitamin product:
Several quality, all-around multis were identified, costing as little as 3 cents per day. However, one product was found to contain only 17% of its listed folic acid, an important B vitamin.
Several quality, all-around multis for women were identified, costing as little as 4 cents per day. However, one product was found to contain only 17.5% of its listed vitamin A.
A quality, all-around women's 50+ multi was identified, costing only 3 cents per day. However, one product was found to contain 20% less vitamin A than listed and 41% more calcium than listed.
Two quality prenatals were identified which provided the 800 mcg of folic acid recommended to help prevent neural tube defects and 150 mcg of iodine recommended for proper brain development. Although no prenatal vitamin failed to contain listed ingredients, many lacked the recommended iodine.
A quality, all-around men's multi was identified which cost only 3 cents per day. However, a men's multi failed to properly disintegrate — requiring more than twice the allowed time to break apart in solution.
The one product tested in this category contained only 58% of its listed vitamin A.
A quality children's gummy multi was identified, costing only 8 cents a day. However, it did not include iron in its formulation (likely out of concern for iron toxicity if over-consumed as a candy by children). Most children are not iron deficient, but, particularly for adolescent girls, iron is important — see the "Teen" section below. One children's multi contained only 28% of its listed folic acid, providing much less than the recommended intake for children. Another product contained 74% more folate than listed, but the listed amount was small and this is not a health risk.
Several quality multis for teens were identified, although all provided higher than recommended amounts of certain nutrients. Adolescent girls may be better off taking a moderate-dose women's multi, with iron and calcium. Adolescent boys may be better off taking a general multi which includes iron, as they need more iron than younger children and men. One teen multi contained only 40% of its listed vitamin A and 48% more calcium than listed.
None of the pet multivitamins were approved: One contained only 30% of its listed vitamin C; one had only 16% of its vitamin C and 8% of its vitamin D; and one contained only 52% of its listed vitamin A.
Two specialty multis, one for people with diabetes, and one for people who have undergone bariatric surgery, were also tested and approved, although they may not be ideal for all such people, as noted in the report.
Dr. Cooperman says consumers should take stock of their personal nutritional needs before considering a multivitamin. Using ConsumerLab.com's review as a guide, they can find quality and value without hidden surprises. "If you need nutritional support from a multi, it's possible to get it from a good, safe product for just pennies a day," he says.
ConsumerLab.com's Multivitamin/Multimineral Supplements Review
provides test results and comparisons for 61 multivitamin products: 41 selected for testing by ConsumerLab.com and 20 which passed the same testing in the voluntary Quality Certification Program
. These products are: 1-800-PetMeds Soft VitaChews for Cats, 21st Century Sentry Multivitamin & Multimineral, All One Active Senior s Multiple Vitamin and Mineral Powder, Alpha Betic Multivitamin, Bariatric Advantage Chewable Multi Formula, Berkley & Jensen Men's Daily (BJ's), Bluebonnet Targeted Multiples Age-Less Choice for Women 50+, Centrum Silver Adults 50+, Centrum® Chewables Multivitamin/Multimineral, ChildLife Multi Vitamin & Mineral — Natural Orange/Mango, Country Life Seniority Multivitamin, CVS/pharmacy Spectravite Adults 50+, DG Health Adult Formula Complete 50+, Doctors Foster And Smith Multivitamin for Adult Dogs, Douglas Laboratories Ultra Preventative Teen, Dr. Mercola Whole Food Multi Plus, Dr. Whitaker Forward Gold Daily Regimen for Adults 65+, Enfamil Expecta Prenatal, Equate Active Adults 50+ Complete Multivitamin, Flintstones Gummies Complete, Garden of Life Kind Organics Women's Multi 40+, Garden of Life Raw One for Women, GNC Mega Men, GNC Mega Men Sport, GNC Women's Ultra Mega, GNC Women's Ultra Mega Active, Jamieson Vita-Min Regular Multi, KAL Enhanced Energy Teen, Kirkland Signature (Costco) Daily Multi, Life Extension Two Per Day Tablets, L'il Critters Gummy Vites Complete, Mega Food Women Over 40 One Daily, Melaleuca Vitality Multivitamin & Mineral — Men, Bariatric Advantage Chewable Multi Formula, Natural Factors Men's 50+ - Dr. Murray Formulated, Nature Made Multi For Her, Nature's Bounty ABC Plus Senior, Nature's Plus Animal Parade GOLD Children's Chewable Multivitamin & Mineral Supplement, Nature's Way- Alive! Once Daily Women's 50+ Ultra Potency, Nature's Way Alive! Whole Food Energizer Women's Multi Max Potency, New Chapter Every Man's One Daily Multi, NOW Prenatal Gels + DHA, Nutrilite Double X, One-A-Day Women's Formula, Pet Naturals of Vermont Daily Best for Dogs, Pure Encapsulations LiquiNutrients — Natural Mango/Orange Flavor, Puritan's Pride ABC Plus Senior Multi Iron Free Formula, RiteAid One Daily Women's 50+, Shaklee Vita-Lea Iron Formula, Simply Right [Sam's] Women's 50+ Multivitamin, Spring Valley [Walmart] Ultra Multivitamin for Woman, Stop Aging Now (SAN) Multi Nutrient Formula Basic, Swanson High Potency Softgel Multi Without Iron, Thorne Research Al's Formula, Trader Joe's Super Crusade, Up & Up (Target) Women's Daily Multivitamin, USANA BabyCare Prenatal Chelated Mineral, USANA BabyCare Prenatal Mega Antioxidant, USANA Body Rox, USANA Essentials Chelated Mineral, USANA Essentials Mega Antioxidant, USANA Usanimals, VitaFusion PreNatal, Vitamin World ABC Plus Senior, Well at Walgreens Women's Multivitamin Gummies, and Whole Foods Women's Food Based Multi.
In addition to the new multivitamin report, ConsumerLab.com provides a free listing
of the latest recommendations for vitamin and mineral intakes.
Founded in 1999, ConsumerLab.com
is a leading provider of consumer information and independent evaluations of products that affect health and nutrition. Membership to ConsumerLab.com is available online
and provides immediate access to reviews of more than 1,000 products from over 400 brands. 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.