It's a sign of confidence when a health guru uses their own product. Null's Ultimate Power Meal apparently had 1,000x more vitamin D in it than it should have had. That is, two MILLION instead of two thousand IU's. It's pretty well known at this point that the AI (adequate intake of 400-600 IU) and UL (upper tolerable limit of 2000 IU) specified by the government are too low for most North Americans, but Null was definitely taking a toxic overdose. The NY Post Headline got a guffaw from me: "Putting the DIE in diet". Not that I have any ill will for Gary Null; I am happy he is getting better after 3 months of slow recovery, and sad that his kidneys may be permanently damaged. He's 65 years old, sort of late in life to take such hard hits.
Now Null is suing his source for the supplement because his kidneys are damaged. He was eating the toxic product for a month, and even after he became ill he kept eating it because he thought it would help him recover. They're saying that only one batch was contaminated. Six other people besides Null were hospitalized for vitamin D toxicity. Back in 2004 another product was found to have dangerously high levels of vitamin D.
I've heard plenty of stories about how hard it is to find a lab that will actually evaluate the contents of your product. Apparently it's not unusual for labs to do what is known as "dry labbing" in which they basically don't test the product at all, rather, they just tell you that what you said was in there is in there, plus or minus little bits to make it look like scientific findings. One of our professors sent the same sample to the same lab several times, each time telling them something different was in the powder. Each time, the lab reported its findings differently, slanted toward the suggested ingredients, but the powder was the same every time. I will not reveal here the name of this company, but I think that the FDA ought to do some such examination of in-house and "out-house" testing labs, and put the ones who are dry-labbing out of business.
The moral of the story: even the health food gurus have no way of knowing what is actually in a product. The regulations on supplements are lax enough that there are really no guarantees that what the label says is anywhere close to the truth. The companies will tell you that their products are tested and guaranteed, but that is just a marketing line. I'm coming to the point that I will only trust companies that spend the dough on outside batch testing of their products, because in-house testing labs have too much incentive to make the product look just fine. And frankly, even trustworthy companies might sometimes make mistakes. In other words, you eat it and you don't know what's in there, you are taking your chances. Far as I am concerned, that is one more great argument for getting your nutrition as much as possible from live whole food.
BELOW HERE TEXT FROM CONSUMERLAB, AN EXCELLENT SOURCE FOR INFO ON SUPPLEMENTS
Latest News: Vitamin D Overload in Supplement Sickens Users
(Date Posted: 4/29/2010)
On April 28, 2010, the New York Post reported that Gary Null, a nutrition promoter, was apparently sickened by his own product, Gary Null's Ultimate Power Meal, due to a manufacturing error that caused an excessive amount of vitamin D to occur in the product. Citing papers filed in a suit by Null against his manufacturer, Triarco Industries, the Post reported that the product contained 2,000,000 IU of vitamin D per daily serving instead of 2,000 IU -- a 1,000-fold increase. (As noted in the ConsumerLab.com Product Review of Vitamin D Supplements, the Upper Tolerable Intake Level for vitamin D is 2,000 IU per day. The Adequate Intake level is 400 IU to 600 IU per day, although 1,000 is often suggested for adults, particularly those with limited sun exposure.) According to the suit, Triarco was responsible for mixing the vitamin D for the product and failed to do proper testing.
Over the month during which Null ate the powdered product, he suffered "excruciating fatigue along with bodily pain," and "began to suffer from extreme cracks and bleeding from within his feet," the suit says. "Null had to be in bed with his feet elevated because it was so painful he did not have the strength to walk" -- but he kept eating Gary Null's Ultimate Power Meal, "thinking that it would help him and relieve his condition."
"It took three months to get his blood seemingly back to where he was able to function. Even now, Null's condition is questionable, as he continues to occasionally urinate blood," the suit says. While he was recuperating, "six consumers were hospitalized with severe kidney damage, and Null, in the midst of all this, while he was suffering in bed, had dozens of his customers calling him, along with condemning and threatening him," the suit says, according to the report in the Post.
In a response to media reports about the case, Gary Null posted a note on his website on April 28 indicating that only one lot of the product was affected, the product was removed from the market and recalled, and none of the product reached the retail market.
In ConsumerLab.com's view, the case demonstrates the importance of verification of the contents of dietary supplements and the need for consumers to be vigilant if they experience unexpected side-effects when using supplements. Another case of excessive vitamin D in a supplement was reported in 2004, in which a product claiming 400 IU of vitamin D per serving contained 188,640 IU.