Life Extension Magazine®


A late-breaking story about Canadian government's suppression of two life-extending nutrients.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, in August 2023. Written by: Life Extension Editorial Staff.

Canada Bans Melatonin and Chromium Picolinate
By John Hamell, Political Coordinator, Life Extension Foundation

On Sept. 19th, the Health Protection Branch (HPB) of Canada drafted a memo calling for a nationwide ban on melatonin and chromium picolinate, which have both been arbitrarily reclassified as "drugs".

image In a letter signed by D.W. Shelley of the HPB 's Western region office in Burnaby, British Columbia, he stated that they were aware that "some health food stores are selling products containing melatonin," and that melatonin is a "drug" because "it is a human hormone and has an effect on the nervous and glandular systems."

Ignoring reams of published medical Literature attesting to the safety and efficacy of melatonin, Shelley went on to say that "Melatonin is a new drug because this hormone's safety and efficacy has not yet been established Melatonin is not a traditional herb or botanical and it is also not a food Products containing melatonin cannot be legally sold or distributed in Canada."

The letter concluded by urging people to turn in any storekeeper who persisted in selling melatonin so that "the Branch can investigate reports of sale and importation and take enforcement action as appropriate. " The letter was maned on Sept.. 26, 1995 to all health food manufacturers, importers and retailers in the HPB's western region.

I spoke with several health food store owners in British Columbia and one told me that "95% of all health food stores are continuing to sell melatonin despite the ban, but if anyone asks him officially, he does not sell it.". He said that, although he personally did not sell melatonin from his store, he continued to make it available to long time customers and friends. He said he has a sign on his shelf where melatonin used to be urging people to work hard to amend Bill C-7, which would severely limit Canadians access to supplements [As we go to press we have learned that C-7 was successfully amended]. It is crucial that foreign members join with us in our efforts to defeat the Codex Commission's efforts to ban diets supplements worldwide. LEF urges all Canadian members to join "My Health- My Rights" which is based in Ottawa. Call president Ron Dugas at 1-800-684-3060. We have linked with Ron in this international struggle against Codex.

Melatonin In The U.S.

In the United States, melatonin is correctly designated as a dietary supplement under P.L. 103-407 (The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1995). However unless H.R. 1951 and an as yet unintroduced Senate companion bill are passed, there will still be a threat to melatonin in the U.S. The purpose of H.R. 1951 is to plug the gaping holes in the DSHEA's safety and new products sections (which still allow the FDA to classify dietary supplements as "drugs"). The Canadian move to ban melatonin and chromium picolinate should serve as a wake-up call to all Americans who have not been writing letters and making cans to help pass H.R. 1951, and to oppose the Codex Commission.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Canadian move to ban melatonin and chromium picolinate is that, within the past few months, melatonin has been prominently featured in the U.S. as a potential breakthrough therapy for insomnia, cancer, and aging. Media spots featuring melatonin have appeared in Newsweek, Tony Brown's Journal, CBS Evening News, and the Miami Herald to name just a few.

The safety of melatonin has been well documented. Most people take a 3 mg melatonin supplement to help them sleep and to slow aging. Studies in humans show that doses of 40 mg, 75 mg, 300 mg and even 1000 mg can be taken daily with no adverse reactions. What this means is that if a person swallowed all the melatonin capsules in a bottle (60 capsules x 3 mg= 180 mg) there would be no toxicity.

If you take melatonin, and you want to KEEP taking it, you had better be working very hard to pass HR 1951 (and to get a Senate Companion bill introduced), If you value continued access to dietary supplements, I cannot urge you enough to work on HR 1951, and on stopping the Codex Commission, because the multinational pharmaceutical companies are working hard to crush health freedom throughout the world. They will succeed if you do nothing! Please use the form letter for HR 1951.

Chromium Picolinate Banned in Canada

The HPB has banned another big selling dietary supplement: chromium picolinate. The HPB Status Manual dated 2/19/93 states: "Chromium is an essential trace element for humans and animal. Products represented as a source of Chromium and regulated as drugs. It is part of the Glucose Tolerance Factor (GTF) which is involved in the regulation of blood sugar by potentiating the action of insulin. No case of dietary deficiency of chromium has been reported in Canada or the USA. Chromium is an unacceptable ingredient in children's vitamin-mineral supplements. Acceptable sources: Brewers or chromium yeast, trivalent mineral salts, chromic chloride, chromic sulphate, and chromic oxide but not chromic trioxide or chromium HVP 'chelate. Products containing chromium picolinate and chromium polynicotinate an treated as New Drugs. Notified products containing chromium acetate, chromium aspartate, chromium citrate, chromium dioxide, chromium glutamate, and chromium trioxide an currently under review regarding safety, efficacy, bioavailability, and appropriateness as a source of chromium."

On Oct 25, 1995, me New York Times published a terribly biased article by Jane Brody entitled "Chromosome Damage in the Lab is Tied to a Chromium Supplement". The article was derived from a paper in the Dec. FASEB Journal (Foundation of American Society of Experimental Biology), which receives numerous FDA contracts and is located just down the road from the FDA in Bethesda, MD.

The Chromium Information Bureau, Inc. POB 189 1562 First Ave. NY, NY 10028 (1-800-111-8824) took out an ad in the NY Times on November 2 to rebut Brody's biased article. LEF agrees with their views. What allows is excerpts from the CIB's statement entitled "Chromium Picolinate: The Science Supports Its Safety".

FACT: In the FASEB study, chromosome breakage was produced, not in living animals, but in cells grown In a test tube directly exposed to abnormally high concentrations of chromium picolinate.

FACT: The lowest concentration of chromium picolinate that could produce chromosome damage was 6,000 times higher than the serum levels of chromium that result from supplementation. To put this in perspective, consider calcium, a safe nutrient which is essential for bonding bones and teeth and also critical for normal heart contractions. Merely DOUBLING the serum level of this mineral can led to fatal heart abnormalities.

FACT: The "picolinate" part of the chromium supplement is actually a natural substance made by our bodies in significant amounts which is even present in breast milk.

FACT: Dr. Richard Anderson of the USDA and a leading chromium research scientist recently completed a long-term study on chromium picolinate in rats. He found no toxicity at even the extreme dosage of 10,000 times the recommended dietary intake. These findings agree with those of previous studies examining nutritional chromium. Chromium Is one of the safest of nutrients.

LEF readers should consider calling Jane Brody at the New York Times at 1-212-556-1234 to discuss her lack of objectivity about chromium picolinate. As you have seen, Canada has just banned melatonin and chromic picolinate. Articles and news shows attacking these products and all over-the-counter dietary supplements have appeared worldwide. With FDA rulemaking expected in December, and the German delegates proposal on Codex, you have no choice but to fight or your health freedom will end! Action must be taken!