Tests Show Multivitamin Labeling Found Inaccurate in 1/3 of Cases

Michael Santo's picture

Read the label is the mantra nutrition advocates and the FDA tell consumers but what if you can't trust the label, which is the question raised after this new report, which states that many multivitamins simply don't have the amount of nutrients they claim.

ConsumerLab.com (not to be confused with Consumer Reports) tested 60 multivitamins. Researchers there found that the labels were not correct in many cases, about one of of three. It wasn't just about too little; in some cases the amount was too much.

Dr. Tod Cooperman, president of ConsumerLab.com said, "We found a wide range in the quality of multivitamins. Interestingly, the more expensive products didn't fare any better than those that are just a few cents a day."

To test the multivitamins, ConsumerLab.com sent the bottles, after having removed the labels, to an independent testing firm. If there was a problem found by the test, the samples were then sent on to a second test firm.

Many people believe that the FDA tests vitamins and supplements as well as drugs. The agency does not. This sort of issue has shown up before, when supplements caused dangerous side effects. A good example was the ephedra recall that took place a few years ago. In the a press release on the issue, it was said:

"FDA has long regarded dietary supplements containing ephedra as potential health hazards because this botanical contains ephedrine alkaloids. Ephedrine alkaloids are adrenaline-like stimulants that can have potentially dangerous effects on the heart. Recent studies have confirmed that ephedrine alkaloids raise blood pressure and otherwise stress the circulatory system, effects that are linked to adverse health effects like heart attacks and strokes. "

Additionally, while some may be concerned that they may not get enough of a nutrient, too much is no better, or in some cases, worse. As an example, some nutrients are excreted if they are taken in excess. Others, are not, and can actually result in a toxic overdose of the substance. Too much vitamin A, for example, can be damaging to your liver.

In ConsumerLabs' testing, some of the wrongly labeled multivitamins were for children. While overdose in adults is bad enough, in children, who are still growing, it can be far, far worse. For example, Hero Nutritionals Yummi Bears, if given to children at the suggested dose, would exceed recommendations for Vitamin A in those aged 1 to 3. High levels of Vitamin A in children has been linked to liver function abnormality, nervous system problems, and bone weakening, Cooperman said.

ConsumerLab's full report is available here. Note that the company even tested some pet multivitamins.

ConsumerLab independently evaluates heath an nutrition products; it is based in Westchester, N.Y. The company says on its site it has been doing so since 1999.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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