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WHITE PLAINS, NY — FRIDAY MAY 21, 2004 — (Updated June 2, 2004) — reported the results today of a major new analysis of popular multivitamin products. Eleven products failed the testing due to lead contamination, lower ingredient levels than stated, and/or inability to fully break apart for absorption. Multivitamins are the most popular supplement in the U.S., with sales of $3.3 billion in 2002 according to Nutrition Business Journal.

The most notable problems found are summarized below by type of product:
  • Children's: A gummy bear multi contained a high amount of lead and was missing half of the folic acid claimed. Lead is of particular concern to children as low amounts can affect mental functioning. Four other products passed.
  • Prenatal: One prenatal vitamin could not fully disintegrate — suggesting that it would not completely deliver its nutrients in the body. It also contained twice its claimed amount of folic acid. Two other products passed.
  • Senior's: A drinkable liquid multi for seniors had less than 20% of its claimed manganese and was also low on vitamin A and folic acid. Five other products passed.
  • General: A popular general multi contained over 3 mcg of lead per daily serving, exceeding the State of California's lead limit. Although not dangerous alone, this product unnecessarily contributes to daily lead exposure. One other product contained less than half of its claimed folic acid, a particularly important vitamin for women of child-bearing age. Thirteen other products passed.
  • Vitamin Waters: 3 popular brands had less vitamin C than claimed. One of these, which had less than 20% of its claimed vitamin C, also had less than half of its claimed vitamin A. One vitamin water passed the testing.

In addition, one women's multi contained less than eighty percent of the claimed vitamin A and another contained only three-quarters of the claimed folic acid, while six other products passed.

Pet multivitamins were also tested. One contained only two-thirds of its claimed vitamin A, while two other products passed. noted that some of the products that passed its testing provide, by design, doses of certain nutrients that exceed suggested tolerable upper intake levels (ULs). Although the products generally did not exceed these levels by much, adverse effects, such as diarrhea from vitamin C and skin tingling from niacin, may occur when these levels are exceeded. More serious toxicities would not be expected at the doses in the products.

"Mild nutrient deficiencies are common among Americans and multivitamins are a reasonable means of insuring against them," said Tod Cooperman, M.D., President of "However, our report shows that problems with multivitamins are common. And since multivitamins are taken regularly for many years, the risk for harm increases. We recommend that people check's lists when selecting products and we urge them to take only the amount they need, factoring in the other sources of nutrients in their diet such as nutrition bars, cereals, and drinks that may be fortified."

The complete report is available at The report includes results for 40 products that passed or failed. Thirteen of the products listed were tested at the request of their manufacturers through's Voluntary Certification Program. The report also provides the latest recommended daily intake levels and Tolerable Upper Intake Levels for nutrients to help consumers choose appropriate products.

Reviews of many other popular supplements are available from online. New Reviews soon to be released include, valerian, vitamin E, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids, and nutrition bars. The recently published paperback,'s Guide to Buying Vitamins and Supplements: What's Really in the Bottle? is available in bookstores, online from or through 800-431-1579. is a leading provider of consumer information and independent evaluations of products that affect health and nutrition. The company is privately held and based in White Plains, New York. It has no ownership from, or interest in, companies that manufacture, distribute, or sell consumer products. is affiliated with (, an evaluator of online pharmacies. Subscription to is available online. For group subscriptions, Technical Reports, or product testing contact Lisa Sabin, Vice President for Business Development, at

Copyright, LLC, 2004. All rights reserved.

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