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Potency of OTC Vitamin D Supplements Varies Widely

Over-the-counter pills from USP-verified manufacturers may have better accuracy

Potency of OTC Vitamin D Supplements Varies Widely

TUESDAY, Feb. 12 (HealthDay News) -- The potency of over-the-counter (OTC) and compounded vitamin D (cholecalciferol) supplements vary widely, according to a research letter published online Feb. 11 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Erin S. LeBlanc, M.D., M.P.H., of Kaiser Permanente in Portland, Ore., and colleagues assessed the vitamin D potency of OTC supplements (five pills from 15 sealed bottles of dietary supplements purchased at five stores from 12 manufacturers).

In analysis of the five pills from the same bottle, the researchers found that the potency of vitamin D was 52 to 135 percent of the expected dose. Less than 10 percent variability was seen in two-thirds of bottles. All five pills from the U.S. Pharmacopeial (USP)-verified manufacturer were within 10 percent of the expected dose. The potency of five pills taken from five bottles with the same lot number varied from 57 to 138 percent, while those from different lot numbers ranged from 9 to 140 percent of the stated dose. For the USP-verified manufacturer, the potency of pills from different lots was within 90 to 120 percent of the expected dose. For the USP-verified manufacturer, the potency of the 1,000 IU pills was more variable (70 to 140 percent of expected dose). For compounded 50,000 IU pills, only one-third of pills were within 10 percent of the expected dose.

"Lack of accuracy in cholecalciferol dosing may not cause harm in most consumers," the authors write. "However, supplementation may be less effective and dose adjustments inaccurate in inconsistent users, which may harm women with severe vitamin D deficiency."

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