- Tablets contain sodium bicarbonate, which makes them fizz and then dissolve
- The sodium is considered a potential health concern and blamed for high blood pressure which causes strokes and early deaths
- Waitrose blackcurrant tablets found to have the highest levels of sodium
Big brand fizzy vitamin C tablets contain chemicals that are equivalent to the salt found in two packets of crisps, it is claimed.
The effervescent tablets, which are sold as a vitamin-packed healthy start to the day, are simply added to water.
However, they contain sodium bicarbonate, which makes them fizz, bubble and dissolve. And it is the sodium, a constituent ingredient of salt, which is considered a potential health concern and blamed by doctors for an epidemic of high blood pressure, which causes strokes and early deaths.
The salt in the vitamin tablets comes in the form of sodium bicarbonate and contains the equivalent of two packets of crisps
Sodium chloride, the scientific name for salt, is known to increase blood pressure. Sodium, when paired with bicarbonate, is thought to do the same, although there is conflicting science on the issue.
The concerns have been raised by supplements firm Healthspan, which has launched a rival fizzing vitamin product that does not include sodium. It commissioned an independent laboratory to survey nine supermarket and big brand fizzy vitamin C products.
The highest level found was 1002 milligrams in a Waitrose blackcurrant flavoured vitamin C effervescent. This, Healthspan said, is equivalent to the salt in 2.2 packets of ready salted crisps or 17 per cent of the 6000mg maximum recommended daily amount for an adult. A standard-sized packet of Walkers ready salted crisps has 460mg of salt.
The Vitabiotics Wellwoman Energy tablets come in at a salt equivalent of 796mg, which is equivalent to 1.7 packets of crisps, and Berocca at 718mg, which comes in at 1.6 packets of crisps.Rob Hobson, head of nutrition at Healthspan, said: ‘Each of these products contain a startling amount of sodium – particularly concerning if you are older or suffer from high blood pressure.’
Berocca was fairly low down the list with own pharmacy brands from Boots topping the chart
Medical nutritionist Dr Sarah Brewer said: ‘While a vitamin C effervescent is a popular way to consume high doses of vitamin C to boost immunity, the level of sodium almost outweighs the benefits. Too much salt will raise your blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease, stroke and heart attack.’
The official line from the NHS is that most people can get all the vitamins and minerals they need from a healthy balanced diet.
Last night a Berocca spokesman said: ‘Comparing Berocca to a packet of crisps fails to take into account the many nutritional benefits a vitamin tablet offers. Berocca is packed with energy-releasing vitamins and minerals.’
Boots added: ‘Our packaging states that the products contain sodium. We would always advise customers to read the instructions carefully and not to take more than the recommended number of tablets daily.’
Waitrose disputed the results and said the official level of sodium in its vitamin tablets is below the figure claimed in Healthspan’s tests.
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