Vitamins: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

(Be Informed Series – Part 3 of 5)Pharmacist counting pills

Often times we find ourselves in our local grocery store or pharmacy browsing the vitamin isle and might be tempted to purchase the best deal; I mean a vitamin is a vitamin, right? Wrong. When purchasing vitamins, it is important to educate ourselves on what went into these bottles. First and foremost, it is essential to understand that dietary firms are not required to prove to any regulatory agency, such as the FDA, that their products work or are safe before they sell them. Let’s delve deeper into the world of vitamins – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

What Makes “Good” Vitamins?

vitaminsChoosing a good vitamin is important to ensure you are getting all your proper nutrients in daily. However, how can you decide whether a vitamin is good or bad? A good vitamin will always provide you with a potency and purity guarantee. What does that mean though? It means that the vitamins you are taking are regularly tested in batches to ensure they are free from any contaminants, that all vitamin tablets are consistent with the same potency, and are verified by a regulatory agency to ensure that the contents of each bottle match the label.

 How Can Vitamins Be Bad?

Vitamins are not bad, but the vitamins in your home could contain some harmful contaminants you may be unaware of. Additionally, without any guarantees from the manufacturer, not only can you be unsure of the safety of those vitamins, but you could be throwing away money. Random tests of varying products have been shown to contain varying potencies within the same bottle. For example, a bottle of Vitamin B could say it contains 200mg but instead have tablets ranging from 5mg to 500mg. Any manufacturer that does not ensure regular testing of its products or prove to regulatory agencies that the contents match the label; these are examples of bad vitamins.

The “Ugly” Truth about Some Vitamin Manufacturers…Rat_Cartoon_by_Nyrak

It is said that “poor manufacturing destroys great science.” This is very true, especially when it comes to vitamins. In 2012 the Chicago Tribune reported huge health violations of vitamin manufacturing facilities where inspectors found rodents’ urine and feces. These conditions lead to serious contaminants in some manufacturers’ vitamins. These poor vitamins are then falsely labeled and placed on our grocery or pharmacy shelves.

 

And remember to ensure that the vitamins you are taking are regularly tested to ensure they are free from any contaminants, which all vitamin tablets are consistent with the same potency, and the vitamins are verified by a regulatory agency to ensure that the contents of each bottle match the label.

 

Don’t have vitamins? Or are you unsure of which are safe and reliable?

Check out what my family and I take daily and decide for your health!

USANA_vitamin_lineup

References
Ames, BN. Low micronutrient intake may accelerate the degenerative diseases of aging through allocation of scarce micronutrients by triage. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006;103(47):17589-17594. (PubMed)
Drake, Victoria J. Multivitamin/mineral Supplements Overview, Micronutrient Center, Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University. August 2011. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/multivitamin-mineral.html
Fairfield KM, Fletcher RH. Vitamins for chronic disease prevention in adults: scientific review. JAMA. 2002;287(23):3116-3126. (PubMed)
Institute of Medicine of the National Academies Dietary Reference Intakes Tables and Application. Last Updated Aug 1, 2012. http://www.iom.edu/Home/Global/News%20
Announcements/DRI
Pascal, Liza. LLC. https://lynnsheffield.usana.com/webhosting/lynnsheffield?page=page2
Saul, Andrew W. The “Expensive Urine” Myth: What About Those “Wasted” Vitamins? International Schizophrenia Foundation. Nov. 10, 2008. http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v04n21.shtml
Tsouderos, Trine. Dietary Supplements: Manufacturing trouble widespread, FDA inspections show. Chicago Tribune. June 30, 2012.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration Web site. Dietary supplement current good manufacturing practices (CGMPs) and interim final rule (IFR) facts. June 22, 2007. (FDA)
Vetrani C, Costabile G., Di Marino, & Rivellese A.A. Nutrition and oxidative stress: a systematic review of human studies. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. 2012; Early Online: 1-15. DOI: 10.3109/09637486.2012.738651 (PubMed)