Vitamin D Supplements Found Inconsistent

From ScienceDaily (2/13) Vitamin D Potency Varies Widely in Dietary Supplements, Analysis Finds

Vitamin D supplement potency varies widely, and the amount of vitamin D in over-the-counter and compounded supplements does not necessarily match the amount listed on the label, according to a research letter published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

The analysis showed that the amount of vitamin D in these supplements ranged from 9 percent to 146 percent of the amount listed on the label. Not only was there variation among different brands and manufacturers, but also among different pills from the same bottle. "We were surprised by the variation in potency among these vitamin D pills," says Erin S. LeBlanc, MD, MPH, lead author and investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore. "The biggest worry is for someone who has low levels of vitamin D in their blood. If they are consistently taking a supplement with little vitamin D in it, they could face health risks."

According to a recent editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, more than 100 million Americans spend a combined $28 billion on vitamins, herbs and supplements each year. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering new safety guidelines for some supplements but, for the most part, the industry remains unregulated.

Some manufacturers participate in a voluntary quality verification program operated by the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention -- an independent, nonprofit organization that sets public standards for the quality of dietary supplements. In order to receive the USP verification mark, manufacturers' facilities undergo annual good manufacturing-practice audits, and their products are tested for quality, potency and purity. Dr. LeBlanc and her colleagues included one supplement from a USP Verified manufacturer in their sample. They found the amount of vitamin D in pills from that bottle was generally more accurate than the other bottles tested. "The USP verification mark may give consumers some reassurance that the amount of vitamin D in those pills is close to the amount listed on the label," said Dr. LeBlanc. "There are not many manufacturers that have the USP mark, but it may be worth the extra effort to look for it."

The researchers tested 55 bottles of over-the-counter vitamin D from 12 different manufacturers. The over-the-counter vitamin D pills used in the analysis were purchased at five different stores in Portland, Ore. The compounded vitamin D was made by a compounding pharmacy in Portland. The analysis was conducted by an independent lab in Houston.

Authors of the letter include Erin S. LeBlanc, MD, MPH, Nancy Perrin, PhD, and Teresa Hillier, MD, from the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore.; and Jeffery D. Johnson, Jr., PhD, and Annie Ballatore, from Eagle Analytical Services in Houston.

Related Info:

Practical Vitamin D Recommendations from Ray Sahelian, M.D.:

Practical vitamin D recommendations based on what I know thus far (your personal doctor is likely to have a different viewpoint): Some people may not need to supplement since their diet includes plenty of the vitamin and they get a lot of sun exposure. Most people may benefit from taking 400 units to 1000 iu a day either as a separate pill or as part of their multivitamin product (in addition to their diet and some sun exposure which could be several hundred units a day).

A few people -- those who do not consume much of this vitamin in their diet, live in Northern latitudes, or some elderly who get little sun -- may benefit from taking 600 to 2000 units daily. More is needed in the winter season and less in the summer season.

Those who have hardly any sun exposure, or have certain chronic medical conditions, may need 2000 to 3000 units a day for a few weeks or months and then down to 1000 to 2000 units daily. The vast majority of people do not need to be monitored by blood tests. Just take 1000 units a day if you are not sure if you are getting enough and don't waste time and money on regular blood tests. There is no need for the vast majority of Americans to take more than 2,000 units a day for the long run. There could be a detriment to taking 5,000 or 10,000 units a day. Many people are taking an unnecessary gamble taking these very high amounts.

From the Newsletter- Supplement Research- Ray Sahelian, M.D. Nutrition Expert and Best Selling Author
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Tanning & Natural Health News is a publication of Tan Plus /Essentials Of Life, Barclay Square, 350 Route 108, Somersworth, NH. This publication is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended to be presented as medical advice. Product statements made have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration.

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