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The vitamins you take - or the ones you give your children - may not provide all the nutrients they advertise, warns an industry watchdog group.
A new study by the group, ConsumerLab.com, found nearly half the vitamin brands it tested did not provide all the nutrients listed and some could pose dangers to consumers.
In an interview with ABCNEWS' Good Morning America, Tod Cooperman, the president of ConsumerLab.com, said the study focused on whether different vitamin brands were contaminated or had dangerous lead levels.
The group also tested to see if the vitamins tablets easily broke apart so people could absorb the nutrients. "We have come across products [that] you need a hammer to break apart," Cooperman said.
He added ConsumerLab.com's study found some popular children's vitamin brands may be problematic for kids. According to the study, L'il Critters Gummy Vites, for instance, has 2189; grams of lead, which is above the standard accepted level.
"As children can handle about six micrograms a day, but they are normally getting it from the food, the air, the water," Cooperman said. "It's not something you want to get from your vitamins."
L'il Critters Gummy Vites has denied ConsumerLab.com's findings and insisted their product is safe.
Do Your Homework
Flintstones Vitamins, Cooperman said, provides all the nutrients it advertises, but he had one warning.
"It's not really appropriate for younger children," Cooperman said. "I have three kids - one who is 4 and [another who is] 7. I give them one [Flintstones vitamin]. But for my 2-year-old, I break it [the vitamin] in half. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing."
ConsumerLab.com's study was critical of two products geared towards pregnant women, whose health needs are greater and who require more iron and folic acid. New Chapter Perfect Prenatal vitamins, Cooperman said, do not fully break apart and Stuart Prenatal supplements were slightly low on Vitamin A.
Stuart Prenatal says, however, each of its tablets provides 100 percent or more of the recommended doses of vitamins and minerals for pregnant women - including Vitamin A. And New Chapter Inc. said its products are independently tested for its disintegration capabilities and have passed tests.
"New Chapter's Perfect Prenatal is for women who want their prenatal vitamins to come from organic whole food. Each and every production lot of our whole-food prenatal is independently tested using the standard United States Pharmacopoeia protocol for disintegration," said Tom Newmark, president of New Chapter Inc., in a statement. "In every case our independent laboratory tests confirm that our Perfect Prenatal distintegrates within the accepted USP standard. To demonstrate this, we include disintegration studies on our last three production runs of Perfect Prenatal, which confirm that our organic whole food vitamins disintegrate properly."
Still, Cooperman said, consumers should do their own research on supplements and make sure they use what's right for them. For more information on ConsumerLab.com's study, go to www.consumerlab.com.
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