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Vitamins: Does Laboratory Tested Mean Safe?

Today at the grocery store a big pink bottle caught my attention:

"Formulated for Pregnant or Lactating Women" in big letters at the top. "Quality Assured" and "Laboratory Premium Tested."

The "Laboratory Tested" protects you from fraud about what's in the bottle and in the pills: it means what's inside is what it says is inside. So far so good.

Now the bad news:

"Laboratory tested" on the vitamin bottle does not protect you from ingredients that have been found to be at best useless and possibly dangerous.

Here are three things (on this vitamin bottle label) I noticed:

1. All the vitamins listed (under Supplement Facts) are isolated synthetic vitamins. This is not a good thing.

2. The first ingredient listed in Supplement Facts for these Vitamins is synthetic Vitamin A. This is more bad news. Here's why:

a. The New England Journal of Medicine reported in 1995:

22,000 pregnant women were given synthetic Vitamin A. The study was halted because birth defects increased 400 percent. - New England Journal of Medicine, 1995.

b. The prestigious Cochrane Library's massive review of the vitamin literature (published with great fanfare last month) noted that "Vitamins A, C and E are 'a waste of time and may even shorten your life." (Cochrane Library, a publication of the Cochrane Collaboration, a well known international organization which evaluates healthcare research.)

3. This bottle, 'formulated for pregnant or lactating women' includes artificial food coloring: FD&C Yellow #6 Lake. (Artificial food coloring is known to be toxic and detrimental to children, among others.)

Laboratory tested, while a good thing, is not sufficient. It does not mean safe.

To protect yourself:

On the labels of any vitamins you buy, check for two things:

1) artificial food colorings. Words like Yellow #6 Lake or Blue #2 Lake.

If a company puts that in a vitamin for pregnant women, how concerned are they with the woman's health or that of her baby?

2) all or mostly synthetic vitamins, especially vitamin A. Use the list in the educational guide, "How Safe Are Your Vitamins?"

Buy whole-food supplements. Either from me or other health food stores.

Read the label.

Just because it's tested and directed at pregnant women (as these were) doesn't mean it's safe.