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PROBLEMS FOUND WITH MULTIVITAMINS AND MULTIMINERALS BY CONSUMERLAB.COM
— Many Products Not Consistent with Label Claims and New Dietary Recommendations —

WHITE PLAINS, NY — February 14, 2001 — ConsumerLab.com announced today that only 14 of 27 products evaluated in its Multivitamin and Multimineral Product Review achieved full "CL Approved Quality" status. Problems found among products included less than the claimed amounts of ingredients, inadequate ability to disintegrate, and ingredient levels exceeding new Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (ULs) above which there can be a risk of toxicity.

Multivitamins/multiminerals are the most popular dietary supplements taken by Americans. Fifty-nine percent of consumers say they use a multivitamin, according to The Hartman Group, a natural products research firm. However, neither the U.S. government nor any other agency is responsible for routinely testing multis or other dietary supplements for their contents or quality. In addition, the latest Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs), which include RDAs (Recommended Dietary Allowances) and ULs, issued by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies have not yet been required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to appear in the "Supplement Facts" panel on products.

As part of its mission to independently evaluate products that affect health and nutrition, ConsumerLab.com purchased 27 multivitamin/multimineral products sold in the U.S., including general adult, prenatal, women's, senior's, and children's products. Of these, one-third (9 products) failed to meet the CL's criteria for Approved Quality, which included evaluation against the most recent DRIs. ConsumerLab.com's findings included the following:

  • Two general adult products failed to disintegrate properly, suggesting that their contents would not be fully available for use in the body.
  • One prenatal product had only 75% of its claimed amount of folic acid, which is important in reducing the risk of certain birth defects.
  • One children's product was found to have more than 7,000 IUs (International Units) of vitamin A as retinol per tablet, which was more than 150% of its claimed amount and exceeds not only the RDAs but also the recently established ULs for children 1 to 13 years of age.
  • Four general multis (two of which also failed on other criteria) claimed levels of 50 mg to 75 mg of niacin per suggested daily serving, exceeding the UL of 35 mg of niacin per day. One women's product also exceeded this UL. High levels of niacin can cause flushing of the skin as well as tingling, itching, burning and pain. The RDA for niacin is 14 mg for men and 12 mg for women.
  • None of the products evaluated were found to have unacceptable levels of lead.

 

In addition, four of the eighteen products that passed testing were placed in a "Conditionally Approved" category, including three children's products. While they met their label claims, these children's products exceeded ULs for copper, niacin, vitamin A, and/or zinc set for younger children.

"Some of the problems we found were related to manufacturing issues, but more startling were the number of products designed to have ingredient levels that were out-of-line with what are now considered to be necessary or safe. For example, many children's products, despite the cute characters on their labels, did not seem appropriate for younger-aged children," noted Tod Cooperman, M.D., ConsumerLab.com's President. "The long-term daily use of multivitamins and multiminerals accentuates the need for consumers to read labels carefully and know what is appropriate for their themselves and their loved ones."

The general findings are available at www.consumerlab.com. ConsumerLab.com subscribers can also access the complete list of Approved products and CL's ConsumerTips™ for Multivitamins and Multiminerals. ConsumerLab.com's ConsumerTips" provides the recent recommended intakes from the Institute of Medicine for twenty-one vitamins and minerals according to age, gender and life stage.

To further assist consumers, ConsumerLab.com licenses its flask-shaped CL Seal of Approved Quality for Multivitamins and Multiminerals (see The CL Seal) to manufacturers for use on labels of products that have passed its evaluation. ConsumerLab.com will periodically re-evaluate these products to ensure their continued compliance with its standards.

ConsumerLab.com's Product Reviews have included Asian and American ginseng, calcium, chondroitin, CoQ10, creatine, ginkgo biloba, glucosamine, SAM-e, saw palmetto, and vitamin C. Product Reviews of vitamin E, Echinacea, St. John's wort, and soy and red clover isoflavone supplements are currently underway and will also be released during the first half of this year. ConsumerLab.com's Buyer's Guide to Supplements is expected to be published in print later this year.

ConsumerLab.com is a provider of consumer information and independent evaluations of products that affect health and nutrition. The company is privately held and headquartered in White Plains, New York. It has no ownership from or interest in companies that manufacture, distribute, or sell consumer products. Subscription to Consumerlab.com's Product Reviews is available online. Parties interested in purchasing comprehensive Product Review Technical Reports, licensing content, or requesting testing of additional products may contact Lisa Sabin, Vice President for Business Development, at lisa.sabin@consumerlab.com.

Copyright ConsumerLab.com, LLC, 2001. All rights reserved.



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