September 4, 2008

lead in children's vitamins

You probably heard this bit of information in the news last week, but just in case you're like me and hadn't heard, many children's and women's vitamins have been found to contain lead. LEAD! You know, the stuff we are all freaking out about being in toys, jewelry, imported candies, etc?

The FDA completed a study which tested a variety of vitamins for elevated levels of lead. You can look at their complete list of brands tested at the FDA website. Now, I'm no scientist, but it sounds to me like the FDA is saying that the amounts of lead are very small and that it is within a safe amount. However, everything I've ever read about lead was that there is NO safe amount, and we must limit exposure wherever possible.

Even the CDC wrote this on their own website regarding lead exposure in children:

"Lead poisoning is entirely preventable. The key is stopping children from coming into contact with lead and treating children who have been poisoned by lead. The goal is to prevent lead exposure to children before they are harmed. There are many ways parents can reduce a child's exposure to lead. The key is stopping children from coming into contact with lead. Lead hazards in a child's environment must be identified and controlled or removed safely."

As you know, lead is a very dangerous toxin and can be stored up in the body. If you give vitamins to your children or are pregnant or lactating, I think it is especially important to look at the FDA study and decide how much lead you feel good about swallowing.


Debbie said...

This is the same FDA that claims bisphenol-A is safe for babies, too, right? Uh huh.

This is a scary list! There are lots of brands on here that one would think of as "natural", and they contain lead. I wonder why: is it related to the manufacturing of vitamins somehow? Doesn't make sense.

Of course my prenatals aren't listed, and are probably full of lead since they are some random store brand. Great!

Anonymous said...

i can't believe the list! Why do you think the lead is in the vitamin? Not that it makes it ok but my girls have been given a muti vitamin and are tested yearly for lead and have shown no trace. Scary....

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if Tri-Vi-sol vitamins by enfamil are good to give to infants who are breastfed? I didn't see it on the list but doesn't mean they could have lead. Anyone know where I could find this out? Thanks

Anonymous said...

Does any one know of a list of safe vitamins? That would be helpful!

Unknown said...

There is so much confusion about this subject, I hope that my explanation to one of our customers will help you all to understand the real issues regarding lead.

I have heard from one other customer like yourself who had seen the report from the FDA and were confused and did not know what to make of it. When I first heard the news I was sure there would be a flood of people wanting information so I began drafting a document that I could send to them that would clear up the issues. I hope once you read my response it will be very clear that in fact supplements and in particular Ola Loa are actually safer than food. The fact is through a variety of means we ingest lead everyday. To put this into perspective your typical flu shot has 150x more mercury and aluminum per dose than a packet of Ola Loa. Mcg per mcg mercury is much more toxic than lead and injecting it poses an even greater risk. Most of the lead that is consumed through food and water is processed via sulphur in your gut. As for the products that did not find lead, as I mention in my response they also contain virtually no minerals and in fact almost no other nutrients. Many of the other products are lacking in so many ingredients that you have to take 30-50 doses to equal 1 Ola Loa. By the way, a key to detoxifying lead is in fact Vitamin C which generates oxalate, which is a metal chelator.

It should be noted that due to the recommended doses on our KIDS product, which lists 1-2 per day the actual total lead content was calculated based on 2 packets. Sadly the FDA does not make any of this clear to the end user and because of this we are actually going to change the wording on our packets to read "take 1 per day or as directed by your health professional".

Please let me know if I can answer any questions. I hope my response is not too wordy and if you would like to discuss anything, please don't hesitate to email or call me.

My thoughts on the most recent analysis of kids and prenatal multi vitamins follows:

As usual our government excels at misleading and confusing the public. In an attempt to validate the safety of the vitamin industry they have actually confused many of you. What they should be saying is that after the analysis of 324 kids and prenatal vitamin products that the nutrition industry is doing a good job of providing safe products. All of the samples were found to have a safe level of lead, in other words vitamins are safe and contain less lead than food!

By way of background I am the founder of Ola Loa Products and one of our products is in fact on the list. My father Richard Kunin, M.D., is one of the world authorities in Orthomolecular Medicine (nutrition medicine) and was in fact the first M.D. in the U.S. to regularly test patients for lead back in the 1960's and is responsible for putting the hair test on the map. For those of you who are interested you may find this article from Prevention Magazine in 1972 which highlights our work with hair analysis:

Here are the highlights of what everyone needs to know regarding the FDA analysis on lead in kids and prenatal vitamins.

1. Every product tested by the FDA was found to be SAFE. What they didn't make clear is that the amount of lead found in these products is less than that of the food industry. We get more lead daily by eating, drinking and breathing. In other words supplements are, just like foods, they contain a certain amount of lead, but your safer taking vitamins than eating!

2. Minerals come from the ground....they are in fact DIRT. The amount of lead is so small, especially in our case that it is impossible to completely remove it without removing the other minerals.

3. Our product has a guide, take 1-2 packets per day. The FDA calculated our total lead content based on 2 packets. In other words we're actually 1/2 the total amount they listed.

4. Of the 4 products that were found to not contain lead, you will also find there mineral content to be close to zero!

5. No other children's formula offers as much nutrient support as Ola Loa. In fact many of these products would require you to take 10 doses or more to equal 1 Ola Loa. In reality per dose Ola Loa has far less lead than the others.

5. Lastly, most are lost when it comes to measurement and how small these amounts are. In our case 2 packets has less than 1 mcg of lead. A microgram is 1 millionth of a gram, for comparison a large grain of salt is 140 mcg. To put it another way. Take a 1-gram vitamin C pill, break it into 1,000,000 pieces. Take one of those pieces and remove 65% of it, that's how small this other words...YOU CAN'T SEE IT.

As a percentage of weight this amount of lead is equal to .00000005% which represents .0005 parts per million or less than .5 parts per billion. Our tap water contains many times that amount of lead and even with the new low level standards does not become a concern until you reach 15 ppb or roughly 30 times what you will find in our packet. For example when you eat a typical serving of cereal, bread or porridge you can get up to 15 micrograms per day of lead which is 40 times greater than what you get out of 1 of our packets.

6. Don't be fooled. You consume lead EVERY DAY. The good news is the major contributor to lead toxicity for humans has been significantly reduced with lead being removed from gasoline.

If anyone would like more information or discuss this further feel free to contact me directly at

(this article from the FDA may be interest to you as well. In this article they discuss the amounts of lead in certain foods:,M1