Why Is The New Centrum Advanced Formula Causing Stomach Pains?

Kevin writes, “I have been experiencing stomach pains after buying the new formula of Centrum Multivitamins. A co-worker had the same pain.” It turns out, Kevin and his co-worker aren’t alone—the Amazon product page for the reformulated (“now with lycopene!”) vitamins are overwhelmingly negative, with


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  1. ornj says:

    I found this new formula gives me some incredible heart burn. Stopped taking it.

  2. ConsumptionJunkie says:

    As a man, I avoid Centrum because it contains iron.

  3. FlipSwitch says:

    I haven’t taken this at all, but I was once involved in a research study where they monitored the absorption of lycopene from capsules into my blood stream. I didn’t experience stomach pain or any discomfort, but I later heard that it made some people’s feces a little red (because lycopene is red – it wasn’t blood).

  4. anatak says:

    Probably all that damn lycopene. just a guess

  5. Chongo says:

    how old is this new formula? I have a bottle of centrum which gives me stomach pains as well but I don’t think its the one with lycopene. Always thought it had to do with what type of food you ate before taking it. good heads up!

  6. bohemian says:

    Can’t you complain to the FDA? Not sure if they will do anything since they seem a bit over their heads right now but at least having it in their records might show a pattern or raise a red flag.

  7. mgy says:

    @ConsumptionJunkie: You’ll have to explain. A google search for “Iron Man” has proved to be little help.

  8. FLConsumer says:

    Just want to remind people that vitamins aren’t regulated by the FDA…. Buyer beware.

  9. Pro-Pain says:

    Overpay and buy GNC multi vitamins. @ least they won’t make you sick.

  10. Been taking One a Day with Lycopene and haven’t experienced any problems. I can’t take centrum though, it has iodine, which I’m allergic to.

  11. misskatybean says:

    I’ve had stomach pain/extreme heart burn with a number of adult multivitamins. I don’t believe I’ve tried Centrum, however. I always assumed it was something to do with the big giant pills full of stuff. Kids gummy vitamins are fine though.

  12. ConsumptionJunkie says:

    @mgy: According to Dr. Weil, supplemental iron is only good for men with an iron deficiency. It can be very harmful for a non-anemic man:


  13. valleyqueen says:

    @mgy: over his head i believe?

  14. polyeaster says:

    I thought that the “new with Lycopene” thing came out like 2 years ago…

  15. madrigal says:

    I use this formula. I haven’t had any problems. Take it after you eat.

  16. IcarusRisen says:

    @ConsumptionJunkie: Yes, the thing is, women need a constant intake of iron because, once a month, they have a net loss of iron. Men don’t have this problem, and if you don’t bleed (say from giving blood, or from joining Fight Club, or some such) the iron can build up in your system and thus become harmful.

  17. Coelacanth says:

    I’ve heard a lot of reports related stomach discomfort associated with iron, if I recall correctly.

    Does the “new” formulation have a higher dose of it or contain it in a different form?

  18. NotATool says:

    Is this formulation made in China? That might explain it.

  19. I recently picked up One-A-Day and read reports of stomach pains with that too, which leads me to think that it comes with the multi-vitamin territory. I’ve had only fleeting pains so far and take the “take with food” instruction very seriously.

    I say switch to a different one (or none at all) if pain persists. Everyone’s different and there are other options. There’s no sense continuing to take something that makes you sick.

  20. whatdoyoucare says:

    Centrum…Now made with melamine! :(

  21. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    Just a thought… I had stomach pain when I was taking a vitamin C supplement made with the commonest and cheapest form of the vitamin, ascorbic acid. If Centrum increased the amount of C in their multi, it might be the culprit, particularly if sour food tends to upset you anyway. Calcium or sodium ascorbates aren’t acidic, but they cost multiple times what ascorbic acid does.

  22. mindshadow says:

    I take zinc tablets and I get some horrible stomach pains if I don’t eat first. I’ve made that mistake twice (absent mindedness) and threw up both times lol.

  23. AimeeGee says:


    Yeah, I was wondering if these people experience acid reflux/stomach problems because they aren’t following the instructions that say “take with food.” As a refluxee, I follow the “take with food” rule like it is the only rule on earth.

  24. josephlevin says:

    I had difficulty with this vitamin (heart burn, odd taste, reflux), so I actually switched to a children’s chewable that doesn’t cause heart burn or any other issues.

  25. BugMeNot2 says:

    I prefer Jeff’s Rolex and Ferrari pills in a baggie over the Centrum, but guess I could give it a shot assuming it doesn’t cause that awful teeth grinding.

  26. Febryle says:

    Why does anyone need a vitamin supplement at all? Nutritional deficiencies are exceedingly rare in this country. Unless one is a vegetarian or has other unusual dietary habits, there’s no need for vitamin supplementation. That is, unless you feel the need to give your kidneys something extra to do. Save your money and eat a balanced diet.

  27. Shutaro says:

    @ConsumptionJunkie: Iron helps us play!

  28. Shutaro says:

    Reading through the reviews, I think this guy had the most disturbing side-effect… And he gave it four stars!

  29. NcSchu says:

    Probably because scientists actually have no idea how vitamins affect the human body when you don’t just get them from natural foods.

  30. Cycledoc says:

    Turns out all those vitamins and antioxidents probably do no good and may cause increased mortality. This from the Cochrane Reviews website: ([www.cochrane.org]

    “Overall, the antioxidant supplements did not seem to reduce mortality. A total of 17880 of 136,023 participants (13.1%) randomised to antioxidant supplements and 10136 of 96527 participants (10.5%) randomised to placebo or no intervention died. In the analyses of the trials with low risk of bias, beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E significantly increased mortality.”

    They noted also that Vitamin C showed no effect and that selenium in a few studies showed some lowering of mortality. They suggest we need more studies of Vitamin C and Selenium.

    Be careful what you take! Lycopene is another antioxident for which, so far, there are no conclusive studies showing benfit. If the rationale for it’s use is that it is an antioxident then it may, like the others, cause more harm than good.

    I agree with Feryle, eat well save your money–also don’t smoke, exercise and use alcohol in moderation.

  31. Parting says:

    @Shutaro: EEEWWWW!!

    ”I have an admittedly poor diet(almost entirely tofu hotdogs, slim jims and vegan frozen pizzas), so I decided to get some vitamins to help balance things out. Well, Centrum is probably the biggest name in the vitamin world, so I figured why not start there. And thus my journey into health began…

    I used this product for 4 weeks and noticed some strange effects. After about 3 weeks of taking my vitamins I was feeling better than ever, but I noticed that I started to exude a cabbage-like odor. At first I thought nothing of it and attributed it to my now higher nutrient intake from the vitamin pills and the accumulation of these nutrients in my skin cells. However, about 5 days after I first noticed the smell(which had intensified each day) I went to take a shower and to my horror, saw a broccoli-like growth on my inner thigh. I quickly cut it off with my bunion shears and continued to shower as normal. I convinced myself that the growth was just a one-time side effect that would go away once my body adapted to the new super-concentrated amounts of nutrients I was now feeding it. But alas, five or six days later another growth sprouted up, this time on the top of my right foot. Well, that was about all I was willing to put up with, so despite my increased vigor and vitality, I immediately stopped taking my vitamins.

    I’ve since come to the conclusion that the human body is just not meant to digest such a massive quantity of potent nutrients as is provided in these Centrum pills. I am not an expert on the human genome, but my theory is that the flood of plant-based vitamins and minerals somehow “tricks” the body’s DNA into thinking it is in fact plant DNA! Perhaps given enough time the body will re-adjust to its new nutrient supply and the DNA will go back to normal, but I was not willing to wait and see. I hope that other more resilient reviewers will report on their long term progress with these vitamins.

    In the end, despite Centrum’s EXCELLENT value among vitamin supplements, I believe that it is too potent for the average human being and therefore must award it only 4 stars.”

  32. utensil42 says:

    @Cycledoc: I love the ambiguity of the last sentence. Should I not exercise and not drink in moderation? Or should I exercise, drink in moderation, and not smoke?

  33. howie_in_az says:

    @Victo: That has to be the most amazing amazon ‘review’ I’ve ever seen. Three coworkers and myself were lolling from it.

  34. @Febryle: people like to spend money, that is why. i think taking a one a day vitamin does help them feel mentally better which can’t really hurt in the long wrong. placebo ftw!

  35. @AimeeGee: Second that, can’t even eat oranges anymore … all hail nexium.

  36. GamblesAC2 says:

    @Victo: EEEW omg that is nasty ” went to take a shower and to my horror, saw a broccoli-like growth on my inner thigh. I quickly cut it off with my bunion shears and continued to shower as normal” but strangely I just cant stop laughing at that. I’m sending this to my freinds Its just too awesome to keep to my self.

  37. GamblesAC2 says:
  38. gig says:


    It is a good bet that it is. Most synthetic vitamins are made in China. China is the largest exporter of vitamins. Buyer beware indeed.

  39. juri squared says:

    @Febryle: Actually, the Journal of the American Medical Association recommends all adults take a daily multivitamin. It’s not like we’re out there getting scurvy, but we’re not getting enough vitamins to maintain an optimum immune system.

  40. Gin&Yonic says:

    I’ve had exactly the same problem. Intense stomach pain for 10 – 15 minutes after taking Centrum. My husband doesn’t have the same problem, even though we were taking vitamins from the same bottle.

  41. tkayo says:

    IMO the best quality vits you can buy are from LEF (lef.org). Don’t overpay at GNC.

  42. Phexerian says:

    You should take any multivitamin with some food. The fat soluble vitamins absorb better when taken with some food. Also it decreases chances of stomach pain. Some people can be sensitive to multivitamins; especially if they are not taking them with food. Worst case scenario, you have a bad batch of vitamins that are contaminated with something and could cause harm to your body. Try taking them with food for a few days and if that doesn’t work either switch vitamins.

    BTW, I just briefly glanced over that cochrane study. The design looks flawed to me. You don’t do a retrospective meta-analysis with mixed groups of “healthy” and “patients with various diseases” then claim your study is strong. The study should have been done on healthy individuals then possibly another on “diseased” individuals. The study makes it look like they were stuck in the same group and then the data extrapolated out as to separate groups. Also the fact that the P-values were not displayed disturbs me. Did the authors round the P-values? (they are known to do this)
    This study has flaws that I don’t like. Also, the authors perspective of low risk of bias probably differs from mine.

    -3rd Year PharmD/MBA Candidate

  43. astrochimp says:

    @Phexerian: I agree. I thought it was pretty much common knowledge that you should take (most) pills with food.

    A few vitamin/mineral supplements can almost make me vomit if I don’t take them with food.

  44. Mom2Talavera says:

    Our bodies recognize Isolated/synthetic vitamins as poison. Centrum and all vitamins like it are crap. Yes this includes the pricey GNC stuff.

    I’ve been taking Garden of life brand vitamins(check your local health food store). For 3 years. the vitamins are made from food sources. These dont give me head aches.

    I also take them every other day. I dont think they need to be taken daily.

  45. Okaasan says:

    @IcarusRisen: My brother has this disease(?) It’s called hemochromatosis. He has to go to the Blood Bank and be bled every so often. And, no, they only use his blood for studying this disease.

  46. chutch says:

    @NotATool: Not that a label makes it inherently true, but my bottle says “Made in USA.”

    I’ll agree with the criticisms of this formula of Centrum. I just recently bought this once-a-day vitamin and have been feeling much like I’ve had a stomach virus.

    I thought it was coincidence, but I quit taking the vitamin and suddenly feel just fine. Hmmm.

  47. Me - now with more humidity says:

    utensil42: all things in moderation, including moderation.

  48. strathmeyer says:

    Aren’t “vitamin pills” a scam???

  49. shikaningen says:

    @strathmeyer: Mostly, yes. I’d say so.

    I have tried many different multivitamins, including Centrum, and they all give me stomach pains. Usually, they induce an agonizing feeling of needing to vomit; sometimes, they actually do induce vomiting.

    However, if I buy the vitamins separately, I don’t have any problems.

  50. nardo218 says:

    Take it back to the store, tell them it made you sick. They’ll prolly let you pick a similar product to replace it.

  51. Toffeecake says:

    “Broccoli-like growth” has to be the most horrifying thing I can think of coming across while in the shower.

    I’m pregnant, but I haven’t been taking multivitamins because I throw up every time that I take one with my meal. I never consciously connected the throwing up with the vitamins though.

  52. mammalpants says:

    holy crap!!! this happened to me too!! i thought i was alone.

    i know this might sounds crazy, but it also caused me to have fits of rage. i noticed that i was so much more angry and hostile on days i was taking these vitamins, so i stopped. then i started them again out of curiosity and the violent, angry fits returned. i just wanted to punch brick walls all day!! i was so angry!

    fyi, i was taking them on a full stomach and with plenty of liquids, too.

  53. mmstk101 says:

    @Shutaro: yeah, for real.

    If, after taking a multivitamin which I suspected was causing a “broccoli-like growth on my inner thigh” not only would I not give it four stars, I’d probably be consulting a lawyer/doctor/exorcist.

    heehee . . . also, the guy who wrote that review on Amazon is from a city/town called “Lupus.” Is that ironic?

  54. Peach422 says:

    Prenatal vitamins made me sick, too. I would eat Flintstones chewables instead, so at least I was getting something. I think I took 2, with iron.

  55. Eat Food, healthy food, and Not processed crap, and you should never need to take vitamins.
    Most nutrients are absorbed into the body only when you eat the whole food. Most of the content of a multi vitamin gets flushed down the toilet and does nothing to help your body.

  56. Toffeecake says:

    @Peach422: Good idea; I’ma get me some Flintstones. Hope there’s no ill effects from not going near prenatal vitamins for all of six months already though…

  57. Cycledoc says:

    What’s important about the Cochrane study is the lack of evidence of benefit in studies with huge numbers of people.

    We take these things on intuition having been sold the notion by the manufacturers that they are “good” for you. In reality there is no evidence they help a person who has a normal diet and some evidence that they may cause harm.

    To rephrase the last paragraph of my original post–eat well, exercise, don’t smoke and if you must use alcohol do it with care and moderation.

  58. Shutaro says:

    @mmstk101: Yeah, it’s NEVER Lupus.

  59. mattpr says:

    Anyone who takes vitamins should be aware that they may cause stomach pain, and the pain is amplified if you don’t take it with food. It is their most common side effect.

  60. girly says:

    @COELACANTH: I think you have something there with thinking it could be caused by iron.

    Maybe Centrum users will have more sympathy for colicky babies

  61. Michael Zarif says:

    I started centrum recently, I experienced a crazy HEARTBURN directly after taking the new formulated centrum.. and it was also relieved by taking antacids.
    Right now I tried the old formula (I had a small bottle that I haven’t used) and there is no pain at all!!
    It has to be due to Lycopene and probably leutein too. By the way they are both carotenoids. And carotenoids are not soluble in water, their might be a correlation with that.

  62. Anonymous says:

    I used Centrum for years with no problem. With the first capsule of the ‘new formula’, I experienced nauseau and stomach upset. Took them about a week with same result. Switched to One a Day and haven’t had a problem yet. I want my money back from Centrum!

  63. Daniel Dixon says:

    Started taking the “new” Centrum and have since been dealing with blood sugar problems.

    The next stop for these pills are the trash!!

  64. Anonymous says:

    After a few minutes of taking this new Centrum Advanced Formula I was having a stomach pain for about 15 to 30 minutes. I had it for a week and I stopped taking it anymore. I’ve taken Centrum before and never felt any pain, what is in this new advanced formula?