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WHITE PLAINS, NY — Wednesday, August 25, 2004   (Updated 10/24/04) — announced today that five vitamin E products failed to pass recent testing for having either too little vitamin E and/or for containing synthetic vitamin E when claiming to be natural. Vitamin E supplements accounted for $706 million in sales in the U.S. in 2003, according to Nutrition Business Journal. Sales had been as high as $870 million in 1999, but fell due to studies failing to show a beneficial effect on heart disease and certain types of cancer. Vitamin E remains popular, however, as there is some evidence that it may be useful in other conditions including menstrual pain, low sperm count, restless leg syndrome, acute anterior uveitis (inflammation of eye tissues), Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. Applied to the skin, vitamin E is used for a variety of purposes and may be of some help in preventing and treating sunburn.

The four products that failed testing were among fifteen that chose. The products failed for the following reasons as confirmed in a second laboratory:
  • An oral supplement contained only 75% of its vitamin E despite claiming to be manufactured in accordance with "Good Manufacturing Practices" with "extensive quality control procedures to ensure...potency."
  • Another oral product contained some synthetic vitamin E despite labeling indicating only the natural form.
  • A cream contained only 58% of its expected amount of vitamin E.
  • A cosmetic oil contained only 64% of its vitamin E, consisting primarily of synthetic vitamin E, despite claiming "pure, natural vitamin E."

In addition, a lotion claimed to contain vitamin E but did not specify an amount. This is often the case with skin care products. CL found that this product contained approximately 5 IU per mL, while the other topical products tested contained roughly 8 to 180 times that concentration.

Why do so many vitamin E products not measure up? "It may just be poor quality control, but manufacturers will also save money by putting in less ingredient or by cutting the natural form with the less expensive synthetic form," said Tod Cooperman, M.D., President of He added, "Consumers should be aware that more of the synthetic form is needed to match the activity of the natural form. It takes about 16 IU of synthetic vitamin E to equal the activity of 10 IU of the natural form."

Eighteen other vitamin E products that passed testing through's Voluntary Certification Program are also included in the new report found at The report also provides extensive information on using vitamin E and an article about clinical trials conducted with vitamin E. Two private label products also passed testing and are separately listed at

Reviews of many other popular supplements are available from New Reviews soon to be released online include, omega-3 fatty acids from fish and marine oils, milk thistle, nutrition bars, alpha-lipoic acid, and supplements used for menopause. The 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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