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One-Third of Multivitamins/Multimineral Supplements Fail Lab Tests

Think twice before popping that pill. A report from earlier this year from CosumerLab.com, reaffirms that multivitamins don’t always live up to their package claims.

ConsumerLab.com recently tested dozens of multivitamin/multimineral supplements and found they varied widely in quality, with some providing far more or less of ingredients than claimed, said Tod Cooperman, MD, founder and president of the watchdog site. “Fortunately, we discovered that you don’t have to spend a lot to get a good multivitamin.”

The company reviewed 41 multivitamins sold in the U.S. and Canada (including three products for pets). Of those, 13 failed to pass tests set by ConsumerLab.com. Several products also exceeded tolerable intake limits established by the Institute of Medicine for nutrients such as niacin, vitamin A, folate and magnesium. Exceeding these levels puts one at increased risk for side effects and toxicities, although this may be appropriate in certain situations. Higher price did not mean higher quality: Many inexpensive multivitamins (costing less than 10 cents per day) passed all tests and gained approval, while several more-expensive products (costing more than 40 cents per day) failed to pass criteria.

Cooperman and his team tested multivitamins for key water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins; minerals; and contamination with the heavy metals lead, cadmium and arsenic. They also checked for proper labeling and tested to make sure tablets disintegrated properly.

Cooperman suggested that consumers take stock of their personal nutritional needs before considering a multivitamin (better yet, see or refer to a dietary professional). Using ConsumerLab.com’s review as a guide, you can find quality and value without hidden surprises. “If you need nutritional support from a multi, it’s possible to get it from a good, safe product for just pennies a day,” he says.

In addition to this multivitamin report, ConsumerLab.com provides a free listing of the latest recommendations for vitamin and mineral intakes.

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