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When Vitamin Labels Lie


If you take a vitamin supplement, you may be shocked to hear what’s really in the bottle. Researchers in Oregon were astounded when they analyzed the contents.

Researchers at Kaiser Permanente in Portland have found that the vitamin D content of supplements sold in retail outlets often bear little resemblance to the descriptions on the bottle labels. The scientists used high-performance liquid chromatography to analyze pills in 55 bottles of vitamin D bought at five stores in Portland, Ore.

In pills from bottles made by a single manufacturer, but in different lots, the researchers found that some of the capsules were missing 91 percent of the vitamin D they were supposed to have. Others had 40 percent more than the label said. They averaged the dosages of five pills from each bottle and found that only two-thirds met the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention standard.

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.”

Carl Lowe

Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.