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SAM-e Tests Show Some Labels Mislead

Review: ConsumerLab finds that levels of key ingredient matched the stated quantity in seven of 13 products.

March 27, 2000|SHARI ROAN | TIMES HEALTH WRITER

An independent laboratory that tests herbal and other dietary supplement products said that its review of a popular treatment for depression and arthritis found that a majority of the products tested failed to meet quality standards.

ConsumerLab.com, which provides online reviews, consumer information and testing of natural products, said last week that only seven of 13 SAM-e products it tested actually contained the amount of the key ingredient (S-adenosyl-methionine) stated on the label.

The SAM-e results will be posted on ConsumerLab.com's Web site (http://www.consumerlab.com) Tuesday.

In one product that flunked the test, the amount of SAM-e was below detectable levels. Three others were labeled in a way that might lead consumers to believe that twice the amount of SAM-e is in the products than actually was, said Dr. Tod Cooperman, president of ConsumerLab.com.

SAM-e is an unstable substance that requires special care during manufacturing, such as the addition of a nonactive salt compound.

But some manufacturers, Cooperman said, "used the salt weight as part of the SAM-e weight. While many manufacturers are putting out a good SAM-e product, too many others appear to be skimping on ingredient or playing a bait-and-switch game with consumers."

SAM-e is produced naturally in the body from a substance called adenosine triphosphate, which is found in protein-rich foods and has long been thought to affect mood and mental functions.

In supplement form, SAM-e may help relieve depression and arthritis pain. However, many scientific questions remain unresolved about the risks and benefits of the substance. SAM-e products are among the most expensive natural remedies, with a one-week supply typically costing about $20.

The products that passed ConsumerLab's test include:

* GNC SAMe, 100 milligrams.

* Natrol SAMe, 200 milligrams.

* Nature Made SAM-e, 200 milligrams.

* Puritan's Pride Inspired by Nature SAM-e, 200 milligrams.

* Source Naturals SAMe, 200 milligrams.

* The Vitamin Shoppe SAMe, 200 milligrams.

* Twinlab SAM-e, 200 milligrams.

SAM-e is the fifth dietary supplement to be evaluated by the White Plains, N.Y., company since its launch last year. The next ConsumerLab review, due out next month, will be on vitamin C products.

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