Mislabeled Gummies May Have Too Much Melatonin

In a survey of more than two dozen brands, most weren't properly labeled
By Steve Huff,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2023 2:00 PM CDT
Mislabeled Gummies May Have Too Much Melatonin
Label for a bottle of melatonin pills   (AP Photo/Patrick Sison)

Here's some bad bedtime math: Researchers discovered that those melatonin gummies many people take to ensure a good snooze might pack a heftier melatonin punch than advertised, reports the Wall Street Journal. According to the results of a survey of 25 brands published in JAMA, research found that most gummies were sometimes packing as much as a whopping 350% more melatonin than the label said. Additionally, one brand promising a melatonin-cannabinoid oil combo was just made with cannabidiol, or CBD. The New York Times quoted study co-author and Harvard Medical School associate professor Dr. Pieter Cohen, who said consumers "are at the mercy of the dietary supplement industry." Cohen also indicated his team tested one bottle per brand, which leaves open the possibility that melatonin amounts could change in each new batch.

Overall, Cohen and his co-authors' test results demonstrate massive differences between consumer expectations based on labels and what actually goes into a given person's body. A spokesperson for the FDA told the Journal that while the agency won't comment on just one study, it does take concerns regarding accurate product labeling seriously. Meanwhile, reps from various companies making the supplements insist they put out a safe product. A customer care rep for Naturelo Premium Supplements, which sells melatonin gummies for kids, told the paper that the "safety and efficacy of our products is our number one focus, and we have thorough testing and quality control procedures in place."

As the Times notes, this isn't the first study to show just how variable melatonin amounts in sleep aids can be. The paper points to a study conducted in Canada five years ago that found over 400% more melatonin than the number on the product label. The Sleep Foundation lists several possible side effects from overconsumption of the sleep hormone. They include headache, low blood pressure, high blood pressure, drowsiness, and vomiting. The Times says that for those who rely on melatonin, best practices for picking a safe brand include asking a pharmacist for recommendations, making sure the brand has third-party certification on its label, and choosing the lowest dose possible.

(More health study stories.)

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