Printer Friendly puts multivitamins to the test.

Laboratory test results of 60 multivitamins have shown that you can't always judge a supplement by its label--or by its price. "Consumers should know that multivitamins vary widely in quality," said Tod Cooperman, MD, president of "Fortunately, you don't have to spend a lot to get a good multivitamin."'s latest report on multivitamins sold in the US and Canada (including three products for pets) found that the contents of the bottle don't always match the claims on the label. Eight multivitamins contained less of an ingredient than claimed, two contained more than claimed, one multivitamin intended for pets was contaminated with lead, tablets of another multivitamin failed to properly disintegrate, and three supplements listed ingredients in ways that did not comply with FDA requirements. Cooperman also noted that many products contained levels of vitamins or minerals that exceed daily tolerable upper intake levels, potentially increasing the risk of side effects.

Surprisingly, there was almost no connection between price and quality. Many inexpensive multivitamins (ranging in price from 3 to 14 cents per day) passed every test. At the same time, several relatively expensive products--some costing over 50 cents or even over $1 a day--failed to pass's review.

The review, published online, provides test results and comparisons for 60 multivitamin products. (1) Multivitamins are the most popular supplements in the US, accounting for sales of $4.8 billion in 2009 according to Nutrition usiness Journal. tested multivitamins for key nutrients, lead contamination, and proper labeling. Tablets were also checked to make sure that they would break apart properly when consumed.

Among the 48 products that earned an "approved" rating from, there were some true bargains.

* General Adult: One health food store brand costs just 12 cents per day.

* Women's: A pharmacy brand and a supermarket brand each costs 6 cents per day, a relative bargain compared with a popular national brand.

* Senior Women's: A national retail brand costs 12 cents per day.

* Prenatal: A pharmacy brand that costs just 4 cents per day was very similar to a popular national brand that costs more than seven times as much.

* Men's: Two wholesale dub brands cost a mere 3 cents per day. Interestingly, the two most expensive multis for men (costing 58 and 73 cents per day) failed testing because they contained far less vitamin A than claimed on the labels.

* Seniors' (General): A discount store brand and two wholesale club brands each costs 3 cents per day. All were very similar to a national brand that costs nearly three times as much. The most expensive product costs $1.10 per day and failed testing because it contained only 2% of its listed beta-carotene.

* Children's: A national retail brand costs 14 cents per day, less than half the price of a popular gummy bear multivitamin.

* Among pet supplements tested by, one product that costs 8 cents per day was "approved." Two pet supplements failed. One was contaminated with 7.45 mcg of lead per tablet. This product has been tested by in two previous reviews and the amount of lead has increased over the years. The other pet product contained 32% less vitamin A than the label claimed.

Cooperman said consumers should take stock of their personal nutritional needs before considering a multivitamin. Using the report as a guide, they can find real value without any hidden surprises. "You can easily save $100 a year and possibly avoid problems," he said. In addition to the new multivitamin report, provides a free listing of latest recommendations for vitamin and mineral intake. (2)

Products included in Consumer's Multivitamin/Multimineral Supplement Review are:

21st Century Pet Chews

All One Active Seniors

alpha betic

Berkley & Jensen Men's Daily

Centrum Chewables

Centrum Silver

Country Life Maxi-Sorb Max for Men

CVS Pharmacy Spectravite Senior

DG health Adult Formula Complete 50+

Enfamil Poly-Vi-Sol with Iron

Equate Mature Multivitamin 50+ (Walmart)

Flintstones Plus Bone Building Support

Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw One for Women

Glaceau Vitamin Water Multi-V

GNC Men's Mega Men

GNC Men's Mega Men 50 Plus

GNC Men's Mega Men Sport

GNC Women's Ultra Mega

GNC Women's Ultra Mega 50 Plus

GNC Women's Ultra Mega Active

Hero Nutritionals Yummi Bears

Jamieson Chewable Vita Vim

JuicePlus + Garden Blend

Julian Whitaker M.D.

Forward Powder

Kirkland Signature Mature Multi Vitamins and Minerals Adult 50+ (Costco)

Kroger Complete Ultra Women's Health

Life Extension Two Per Day

Melaleuca Vitality

Member's Mark Mature Multi (Sam's Club)

Metagenics Multigenics Chewable

Mountain Home Daily Advantage

Natrol My Favorite Multiple

Natural Factors MultiFactors Women's

Nature Made Multi for Her 50+

Nature's Bounty Ultra Man

Nature's Plus Source of Life Children's Chewable

Nature's Way Alive!

Nature's Way Alive! Once Daily Men's Ultra Potency

NOW Adam Superior Men's Multi

Nutrilite Double X

One-A-Day Men's Health Formula

One-A-Day Women's


Pet-Tabs Complete

Pharmanex LifePak Anti-Aging

Pure Encapsulations Nutrient 950

Puritan's Pride High Potency Time Release Ultra Vita Man

Rainbow Light Certified Organics Women's Multivitamin

Rite Aid Prenatal

Schiff Single Day

Shaklee Vita-Lea

Solaray Women's Golden

Solgar Formula V VM-75

Stuart Prenatal

Thorne Research Basic Prenatal

Trader Joe's Vitamin Crusade High Potency

USANA Essentials Chelated Mineral

USANA Essentials Mega Antioxidant

Vitamin Shoppe Ultimate Women Gold

Vitamin World Ultra Man

Walgreens One Daily for Women

WEIL Andrew Well M.D. Daily Multivitamin

Whole Foods Women's Food Based Multi

Thirty-eight of these products were selected for testing by Twenty-two are included for having passed the same evaluation in's Voluntary Certification Program, as are two products similar to those tested but sold under different brand names. is a leading provider of consumer information and independent evaluations of products that affect health and nutrition. The company is privately held and based in Westchester County, New York. It has no ownership from, or interest in, companies that manufacture, distribute, or sell consumer products. Membership to is available online.


(1.) Product review: multivitamin and multimineral supplements review [Web page].

(2.) Recommended Daily Intakes and upper limits for nutrients [Web page].
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Publication:Townsend Letter
Date:Jul 1, 2012
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