Not so Vital Vitamins - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Not so Vital Vitamins

By Amanda Hanson - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Vitamins are a three-billion dollar a year industry.  And with all that money people pour into these different vitamins, how do you know you are really getting what you pay for?  If you look at the back of a pill bottle you will find the break down off all the nutrients you are suppose to get from the supplement.  But if you look a little farther down,  you might find there's no guarantee they do what they say.

"The FDA does not regulate vitamins.  You could be looking at vitamins from some company, and if it's labeled properly, they can put it out on the shelf with little, to no testing," says pharmacist Lee Shinabery.

Everybody needs vitamins from the infant to the elderly.  "I feel like sometime I need vitamins," says Christie McNeill, who takes vitamins every day.  But she says when you walk into the drug store, deciding what to buy can be a challenge.  "I take fish oil because they are always saying this something that you need.  I'm not an expert on vitamins, and you go to the store and you see tons and tons of vitamins. So you wonder which ones you need to take," says McNeill.

So where do you start?  Shinabery says for the average Joe, "It's almost impossible. There are too many forms."  He says the key is to look for pharmaceutical grade vitamins.  "It just means that they are tested, and proven to do what they say they do. They approve the vitamins that are absorbed," says Shinabery

There is subscription websites like Consumer Lab whose sole purpose is to test vitamins and nutritional supplements for its members.  "We look at quality of the products.  We test whether it has contaminants, whether it can release properly, so you can actually absorb everything. Just so the consumers are getting what they think they are paying for," says Dr. William Obermeyer, who is a chief researcher at Consumer Lab.  He works in a lab just outside of Annapolis Maryland.  Day-in and day-out, he conducts pill testing.

One tested showed how quickly some tablets break down in the stomach.  "Some of the disintegration problems that we've had have been so dramatic that you actually had to take a hammer to a pill a tablet to actually break it apart," says Obermeyer.

Shinabery says if that's the case, "If they're not absorbing, they are flushing out of the body. It's literally just flushing money down the toilet."

He adds price is not always an indicator of quality.  "Expense really has nothing to do with it. There are some expensive vitamins out there that aren't worth anything. There are some cheap vitamins out there that are really good," says Shinabery.

So when faced with all these choices, how do you make the right choice? There's no easy answer.  Everyone is different.  "You really have to watch what you're getting, how you're getting it, and there again rely on a professional to help you with what you're needing with your vitamins," says Shinabery.

As for McNeil, she sticks with what works best for her.  "If I take them and I feel like it's doing me some good then I continue taking them, but if I can't tell anything in a couple of weeks I don't take them anymore," says McNeill.

Shinabery says it's important to find a brand you can trust.  For more information about vitamins and selecting the right ones for you, just go to or

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