Posted on September 01, 2014 at 19:21 PM
You get what you pay for. Well, not really when it comes to multivitamins. That’s because the ingredients listed on the back of a multivitamin bottle don’t always live up to their claims. And, you can’t rely on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to keep vitamin, or any supplement, manufacturer in check. It doesn’t test anything when it comes to the claims they make.
I don’t take a lot of vitamins and supplements because I believe that we should fuel our bodies with essential nutrients through the food we eat. Nonetheless, I do take a multivitamin. I mainly take it because I think it’s good for me when there are days that I don’t feel I’ve eaten a balanced diet, which isn’t too often, but I think that happens on occasion to a lot of us.
I pay a great deal of attention to the quality of my supplements—relying on well-known brand names, word of mouth from those “in the know” and reading up on their efficacy. A report that piqued my interest—and made me grab the two multis in my kitchen cabinet—found that 16 out of 42 multivitamins failed an independent laboratory test conducted by ConsumerLab.com, a fee-based service that I subscribe to get the latest information on the health claims of vitamins and supplements.
The multis that landed on ConsumerLab’s “Not Approved” list failed for a variety of reasons. They either fell short of the level of nutrients claimed on their labels; exceeded tolerable limits established by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies or didn’t properly list ingredients.
Getting too much of a good thing can be toxic. For example, vitamin A, which was one of the many ingredients ConsumerLab tested, is good for your eyes and skin. It is included in most multivitamins. Too much, and you’re headed for developing liver damage or brittle bones, increasing fracture risks by up to seven times. The National Institutes of Health cites other health risks from excessive intake of vitamin A. Read Upper Safe Levels of Intake for Adults: Vitamins and Minerals in the NebGuide, published by the University of Nebraska, to learn about others.
Surprisingly, my CVS spectravite, which compares to Centrum Silver Chewables, exceeded the tolerable limits for vitamin A. It contained 4,000 IU (international units). The U.S. recommended daily allowance for adults is 3,000 IU for men and 2,300 IU for women. What passed? 21st Century Sentry Multivitamin & Multimineral Supplement, distributed by 21st Century HealthCare Inc. Out of the 26 that passed, I chose to list this multivitamin because it has the lowest cost for a general multi. For a complete list, you’ll need to subscribe to ConsumerLab.com. [If you subscribe, and I recommend that you do, I do not receive recompense.]
By eating a variety of foods, you can get the recommended amounts of vitamin A as well as other essential vitamins and minerals. Foods high in vitamin A, for instance, include organ meats (but limit how much you eat of them because they’re high in cholesterol), salmon, green leafy vegetables (broccoli, carrots and squash) and orange-colored fruits, such as cantaloupe, apricots and mangos.