Friday, June 17, 2011

Tell Us Something We Didn’t Know

Don’t get me wrong. The new Consumer Labs Report is great, but it’s nothing we didn’t know: cheap, store-brand multivitamins are just as good, and maybe better, than multis that are more expensive. released the report on Wednesday of this week. The Consumer Lab scientists looked at three things:

1. Did the multivitamins contain the amount of certain key nutrients that the label says it does?
2. Did the multivitamin dissolve in a solution that is similar to the stomach environment?
3. Was the multivitamin contaminated with lead?

The good news is that none of the supplements had levels of lead that were over the Consumer Lab’s strict limit. The bad news is that 13 of the 38 multivitamins did not get approval from Consumer Labs. For instance, Centrum Chewables failed the test because it had 173% of its claimed vitamin A amount. All One Active Seniors only had 2% of the beta-carotene that the label claimed. Only one multi – Alpha Betic – failed the dissolving test.

Many of the approved multivitamins were cheap. Walgreens One Daily for Women cost only $0.06 a day – that’s $1.80 for a month’s supply! Compare that to the ridiculously over-priced GNC Women’s Mega 50 Plus at $0.53 a day 9 (almost $16 a month) and the choice is a no-brainer. Other inexpensive high scorers included Rite Aid Prenatal Tablets, One A Day Men’s Health Formula, Equate Mature Multivitamin 50+, and Member’s Mark Mature Multi.

The take home message? If you take a multi, don’t spend more than a few bucks a month. Store brands that you can get at CVS, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, or your favorite grocery store are just as good as their high-priced health food store cousins.

Beth Kitchin MS RD
Assistant Professor, Nutrition Sciences
University of Alabama at Birmingham

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