Consumers Cautioned to Be Aware of Side Effects with High Dose Products —

WHITE PLAINS, NY — announced today that all but one of the twenty-one products analyzed in its B Vitamin Product Review contained the claimed amounts of B vitamins. However, nine of the products exceeded Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (ULs) set by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. The risk of adverse effects increases when consumption of vitamins exceeds the UL on a regular basis. The most common ingredient found at high doses was niacin (B3), for which potential side-effects range from skin flushing to liver toxicity.

Use of B vitamins has increased dramatically in recent years as a result of research indicating the roles of vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid in reducing the risk of heart disease, and of niacin (B3) in lowering cholesterol. Consequently, sales have grown rapidly among B complex products; unit sales were up 57% in 1999 compared to the prior year according to The Hartman Group (Seattle, WA). However, neither the U.S. government nor any other agency is responsible for routinely testing B vitamin products or other dietary supplements for their contents or quality and the FDA does not require labels to warn of potential side effects.

Tod Cooperman, M.D., President of cautioned, “While there is scientific evidence behind the excitement over B vitamins, consumers should be aware that more than forty percent of the products that we evaluated exceeded levels at which they are known to be safely tolerated — some having more than 10 times the upper limit. There may be good medical reasons for exceeding these levels, but there may also be significant side effects. People interested in using high doses of B vitamins should consult with a healthcare professional.” He added, “Consumers should also be aware that, because of deficient products, they may not get the full benefits.”

The complete list of products that passed the review, as well as ConsumerTips™ on buying and using B vitamins are now available to’s online subscribers at General findings and examples of approved products are also available free from the Web site. Similar information is available online from’s Product Reviews for Asian and American ginseng, calcium, chondroitin, CoQ10, creatine, echinacea, ginkgo biloba, glucosamine, iron, MSM, multivitamins/multiminerals, nutrition bars, omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) from fish/marine oil, phytoestrogens (soy and red clover isoflavones), SAM-e, saw palmetto, St. John’s wort, valerian and vitamins C and E. Other Product Reviews scheduled for release in coming months include nutrition powders and beverages and weight loss/slimming supplements.’s Guide to Buying the Best Vitamins, Herbs and Supplements is scheduled for publication next year. To further assist consumers, licenses its flask-shaped CL Seal of Approved Quality (see The CL Seal) to manufacturers for use on products that have passed its evaluations.

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