Supplements Contain Wildly Varying Amounts of Vitamin D

As little as 9 per cent and as high as 140 per cent of labeled amounts

Every day brings more news of what cheats and liars corporations in the US often are in marketing products with misleading labels and other misinformation to induce consumers to waste their money on rubbish, especially in the food category,.

Now a study of Vitamin D supplements carried out in Portland Oregon and published in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that Vitamin D levels in supplements are not often the ones printed on the labels, the Times reports:

The amounts of vitamin D present in supplements sold over the counter often bear little resemblance to the descriptions on the bottle labels, a new study concludes.

Researchers used high-performance liquid chromatography to analyze pills in 55 bottles of vitamin D bought at five stores in Portland, Ore. Their results were published online last week in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the potency of vitamin D supplements, but companies may choose to comply with the standards of the United States Pharmacopeial Convention, which requires that pills contain 90 percent to 110 percent of the listed potency.

In pills from bottles made by a single manufacturer, but in different lots, the researchers found potencies as low as 9 percent and as high as 140 percent of the listed dose. They averaged the dosages of five pills from each bottle and found that only two-thirds met the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention standard.

Pills from the bottle of the one manufacturer that was verified by the convention averaged 101.7 percent of the listed dosage, although the potency varied considerably from pill to pill.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Erin S. LeBlanc, a researcher at Kaiser Permanente in Portland, recommended looking for the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention seal when shopping for vitamins. “If you have a bottle with the U.S.P. stamp on it,” she said, “you can feel reassured that what’s listed on the label is actually in the bottle.”

So how about the orange juice we buy which claims to be fortified with Vitamin D and Calcium? Are we getting the advertised amounts, or less?

Some of the Comments are worthwhile. Here’s one:

Doug RifeSarasota, FL
There appears to be an error in this story as in the abstract the range reported was 52% to 135% of the specified dose, not 9% to 140% This may reflect an average taken over 5 pills and not single pill variation. It should be pointed out, however, that in the first place oral vitamin D is poorly absorbed and there is considerable variation among individuals as to the correct oral dose required to achieve a given target blood level. For that reason, many experts recommend measuring blood levels before taking high dose supplements. In some cases supplements are not advisable if blood levels are already optimal, while in others there may be a serious deficiency requiring high oral doses to reach healthy blood levels. Sun exposure and skin color are largest factors but there are other large individual variations that have yet to be explained. African Americans, for example, are much more likely to be deficient than lighter skin individuals. Furthermore, blood levels increase very slowing in response to oral supplementation and that fact alone strongly mitigates against any pill-to-pill variation in dosage being of concern since the average intake over a period of 1-3 months is all that matters. After 3 months of supplementation at high dose its advised by experts to test blood levels again and adjust dosage as indicated. The 25-hydroxy vitamin D test is the most accurate measurement method and the D3 form of the vitamin is recommended for oral supplementation.

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