Consumer Reports: Protein Drinks May Contain Unwanted Ingredients

UPDATED: Thursday June 24, 2010 11:54 AM

Trendy drinks could help you shed pounds, but some health experts warn they may contained more than you bargained for.

Companies manufacturing and marketing protein drinks say they are e a scientifically advanced way to loose weight, build muscles, or fight the aging process, but Consumer Reports found that if you drink too many you may get unwanted ingredients, Consumer 10's Chuck Strickler reported.

Scott Baker turned to protein drinks to bulk up, and quickly learned that extra protein is not always a good thing.


"The stomach issues and diarrhea, it just didn't agree with me for the most part, having so much," Baker said.

He said he cut back on the protein drinks and his stomach issues went away, but plenty of people see protein drinks as a nutritious and time-saving snack or meal replacement.

Myoplex and Muscle Milk, two manufacturers of protein drinks, suggest that their products are designed after human mother's milk, Strickler reported.

Consumer Reports conducted an investigation, including tests at an outside lab, of 15 protein powders and drinks.

Multiple samples of each were evaluated for arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead, Strickler reported.

"Our investigation found that some of these drinks can pose health risks, including exposure to potentially harmful heavy metals, if you drink them too frequently," said Consumer Reports' Andrea Rock.

Three products were of particular concern; two Muscle Milk powders, the Vanilla crme and chocolate; and the EAS Myoplex original Rich Dark Chocolate shake.

Consumer Reports said consuming three servings a day could give you more arsenic, cadmium, or lead than some health experts think is advisable.

"At high enough levels, all of these metals can have toxic effects on several organs in the body," Rock said.

Abbott Labs, which has offices in Columbus, makes the Myoplex shakes and disputes the findings, Strickler reported.

The company released a statement that said "There is no safety risk from the trace levels of cadmium and arsenic in our Myoplex protein shakes. Our quality testing shows the level of these elements is below all current, well-established safety standards, including those from the Environmental Protection Agency and World Health Organization.  Consumers can continue to use Myoplex shakes with confidence."

The company recommends no more than two shakes should be consumed in one day.

Consumer Reports said a balanced diet is a better, less expensive way to meet your daily protein requirements, with foods like milk, eggs and grilled chicken, Strickler reported.

Federal regulations generally do not require that protein drinks and other dietary supplements be tested to ensure safety or effectiveness. 

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