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Vitamin D Supplements: Lead Contamination, Wrong Labels

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WHITE PLAINS, NY -- Among 28 vitamin D supplements recently selected for independent testing, problems were found with 8 products, 29% of those reviewed, according to Vitamin D plays a critical role in bone health and higher levels in the blood are associated with reduced risk of heart attack, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and other conditions.

Vitamin D has become one of the most popular supplements in the U.S. with sales rising from $72 million in 2006 to $429 million in 2009 according the Nutrition Business Journal. It was the
fourth most popular supplement in a survey of its readers in 2010, used by 56% of respondents. In the recent tests, evaluated vitamin D supplements as well as those containing calcium and/or vitamin K. Results were released today in three separate Product Review reports on Vitamin D Supplements,
Calcium Supplements,
and Vitamin K Supplements

The most common problem found by with supplements containing vitamin D was the wrong amount of vitamins:

-- A popular supplement for children listed 200 IU of vitamin D per two gummy bears, but actually contained 501 IU, 251% of the listed amount;
-- a gummy product for adults listed 1,000 IU of vitamin D, but contained only 317 IU, 32% of the listed amount;
-- a liquid listing 42 IU of vitamin D contained only 18 IU, 44% of the listed amount;
-- a tablet listing 800 IU of vitamin D contained only 664 IU, 83% of the listed amount; and
-- a vitamin D/vitamin K supplement contained its listed amount of vitamin D but provided only 36.8 mcg of its listed 50 mcg of vitamin K per capsule, 74% of the listed amount.

Two other products containing combinations of vitamins D and K and calcium were found to be contaminated with lead: One contained 5.2 mcg of lead in a suggested serving of 4 capsules, and the other, a powder, contained 4.1 mcg in a suggested serving of 2 scoops. The FDA permits supplement manufacturers to set their own limits on lead in their products, but one state, California, requires a warning label on supplements that contain more than 0.5 mcg of lead per daily serving (or 1.0 mcg of lead in supplements that contain 1,000 mg or more of calcium). Neither of the products with lead contamination had this warning label. Both also failed to disclose soy as a
potential allergen. They contained a form of vitamin K2 called MK-7, which is made from fermented soybean.

A vegan vitamin D product that passed laboratory tests was not approved by because it listed potential benefits of vitamin D but failed to provide the required FDA disclaimer for such claims.

The new reports are available online to members. The Vitamin
D Supplements Review includes test results, ingredient comparisons, and price comparisons for 28 vitamin D-containing supplements selected by and for 21 products that passed the same testing through's Voluntary Certification Program. The report also includes information about 3 products that were not tested but are similar to others that passed testing. The Calcium Supplements Review and the Vitamin K Supplements Review
include additional products specific to those nutrients as well as combination products.


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