Posted April 29, 2010

Vitamin D Overload in Supplement Sickens Users

On April 28, 2010, the New York Post reported that Gary Null, a nutrition promoter, was apparently sickened by his own product, Gary Null's Ultimate Power Meal, due to a manufacturing error that caused an excessive amount of vitamin D to occur in the product. Citing papers filed in a suit by Null against his manufacturer, Triarco Industries, the Post reported that the product contained 2,000,000 IU of vitamin D per daily serving instead of 2,000 IU -- a 1,000-fold increase. (As noted in the ConsumerLab.com Product Review of Vitamin D Supplements, the Upper Tolerable Intake Level for vitamin D is 2,000 IU per day. The Adequate Intake level is 400 IU to 600 IU per day, although 1,000 is often suggested for adults, particularly those with limited sun exposure.) According to the suit, Triarco was responsible for mixing the vitamin D for the product and failed to do proper testing.

Over the month during which Null ate the powdered product, he suffered "excruciating fatigue along with bodily pain," and "began to suffer from extreme cracks and bleeding from within his feet," the suit says. "Null had to be in bed with his feet elevated because it was so painful he did not have the strength to walk" -- but he kept eating Gary Null's Ultimate Power Meal, "thinking that it would help him and relieve his condition."

"It took three months to get his blood seemingly back to where he was able to function. Even now, Null's condition is questionable, as he continues to occasionally urinate blood," the suit says. While he was recuperating, "six consumers were hospitalized with severe kidney damage, and Null, in the midst of all this, while he was suffering in bed, had dozens of his customers calling him, along with condemning and threatening him," the suit says, according to the report in the Post.

In a response to media reports about the case, Gary Null posted a note on his website on April 28 indicating that only one lot of the product was affected, the product was removed from the market and recalled, and none of the product reached the retail market.

In ConsumerLab.com's view, the case demonstrates the importance of verification of the contents of dietary supplements and the need for consumers to be vigilant if they experience unexpected side-effects when using supplements. Another case of excessive vitamin D in a supplement was reported in 2004, in which a product claiming 400 IU of vitamin D per serving contained 188,640 IU.