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A. Kumar, E. Haselhorst, N. Kumar, M. Gallardo, J.C. Macdonald, R.P. Glickman; Spectrophotometric Analysis of Beta–Carotene Content in Commercially Available Age Related Eye Disease Study Recommended Formulations . Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2005;46(13):1573.
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Purpose: : The Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) has recently shown that a combination of vitamin A, C, E, and Zinc can reduce the risk of progression of age related macular degeneration. Several companies have manufactured over–the–counter tablets that contain AREDS formula vitamins/minerals. Comments in the ophthalmic literature suggest certain brands may contain less than the vitamin amount listed on the product label. The purpose of the present study was to analyze five different brands of vitamin supplements containing the AREDS formulation to determine the concentration of beta–carotene, one of the principal antioxidants. Methods: We studied 5 brands of vitamin supplements manufactured with the AREDS formula (Ocuvite (Bausch and Lomb Inc.), ICaps (Alcon laboratories Inc.), Equate ProtectaVision (Wal Mart Stores Inc.), Ocutabs (Walgreens Stores Inc.), and Vision Health Formula (Target Corp)). Beta–carotene extracted from three different production lots of each brand was analyzed using a Beckman spectrophotometer prior to expiration date listed on bottle using the United States Pharmacopeia Protocol 27: Oil and Water Soluble Vitamins with Mineral Tablets. Only two lots of Target’s Vision Health Formula were analyzed due to availability. Results: On average, all samples analyzed yielded beta–carotene concentrations greater than the stated label amount. As a percentage of the label amount, the values for each brand were 133.33% (Equate ProtectaVision, Wal Mart Stores Inc.), 145.78% (Ocutabs, Walgreens Stores Inc.), 150.99% (Ocuvite PreserVision, Bausch and Lomb Inc.), 159.53% (Vision Health Formula, Target Corp.), and 162.28% (ICaps, Alcon laboratories Inc.). Conclusions: Published analyses of various vitamin supplements reported a high degree of variability in the actual amounts of vitamin contained in the product compared to stated label amounts. For example, only half of the supplements analyzed contained at least fifty–percent of the stated label amount of beta–carotene. This high degree of variability may be due to autoxidation of beta–carotene. To compensate for this, manufacturers may be producing vitamin supplements with higher than the label amounts of beta–carotene. Our study results are consistent with this practice, in that all of the supplements we tested contained at least the label amount of beta–carotene or more. Although this excess concentration ensures that the patient will receive the AREDS–recommended amount of beta–carotene, it may also lead to excessive beta–carotene intake.
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