Doctors Urge FDA to Ban Multivitamins Containing Iron or Copper
The Physicians Committee is urging the Food and Drug Administration to require vitamin manufacturers to reformulate common multivitamins that contain iron or copper, due to possible links with Alzheimer’s disease.
The Physician Committee’s new report, Metals of Concern in Common Multivitamins, finds that common multivitamins, including One a Day Women’s 50+ Healthy Advantage and One a Day Women’s Active Metabolism, contain up to twice the amount of copper a person should consume in an entire day. In research studies, ingestion of copper and iron in even slightly elevated quantities is associated with increased risk of cognitive problems.
“We need traces of iron and copper for health, but because most people already obtain these metals from everyday foods, the added amounts in multivitamins increase the risk for overdose,” Neal Barnard, M.D., president of the Physicians Committee, writes in a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, M.D. “Given that nearly half of Americans develop Alzheimer’s disease by age 85, we need to urge consumers to err on the side of caution.”
Dr. Barnard asks the FDA to work with vitamin manufactures to remove metals from the formulations.
“Research on the links between metals and brain damage is ongoing. Even so, the evidence that excess iron and copper contribute to brain deterioration has reached the point where we have to take it seriously,” says Dr. Barnard.
Recommendations about vitamin supplements and a list of metal-free vitamin products are available at PCRM.org/Multivitamins.
Be Sure to Take Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D
Vitamin supplementation is mainly required for vitamins B12 and D.
The U.S. government recommends vitamin B12 for everyone over age 50. However, it is prudent for everyone, regardless of age, to take vitamin B12. Drugstores and health foods stores sell B12 supplements, as well as “B complex” (a mixture of B-vitamins), including B12. All typical brands have more than the 2.4 micrograms adults need, and there is no toxicity from higher amounts. Fortified breakfast cereals, fortified soy milk, and fortified meat analogues often supply the vitamin, as well.
Although vitamin D’s best-known function is to help you absorb calcium from the foods you eat, it also has a cancer-preventive effect. The natural source is sunlight. Fifteen or 20 minutes of direct sunlight on your face and arms each day provides the vitamin D you need, but if you are indoors most of the time, you’ll want to take a supplement. The U.S. government recommends 600 IU per day for adults up to age 70 and 800 IU per day for older people.
Because of vitamin D’s cancer-preventing effects, some authorities recommend daily doses as high as 2,000 IU per day. This level of supplementation appears to be safe, but higher doses should be taken only under a physician’s directive.
Fortified cereals, grains, bread, orange juice, and soy or rice milk are healthful foods that sometimes provide vitamin D, as you’ll see on their labels.