Monday, 29 March 2010

*Macushield - help for meso-zeaxanthin deficiency sufferers!

I don't know about you, but I'm stubbornly proud of my bottle green eyes, and so I was excited to read about a new product that will help keep them sparkling.

UPDATE, 4 Aug: The ASA write to confirm the advertiser has agreed not to repeat the advert, and to amend future advertising in line with the rules.

The advert for "Wellbeing" in Natural Health magazine is full of scientific pseudo-gibberish that hardly any of its readers could be expected to comprehend - a usually reliable sign that the advert is complainable.

I'll let the ASA try to work it all out.

"I write to complain about an advert in “Natural Health" Magazine (April 2010, page 58), which promotes the "Macushield" health capsules.

I suspect that the advert may be in breach of three sections of the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP) code.

I have submitted a scan of the advert. I can provide an original copy of the advert by post, if required.

1. The CAP Code, Section 3.1, states "Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove all claims, whether direct or implied, that are capable of objective substantiation."

2. The CAP Code, Section 50.1, states "Medical and scientific claims made about beauty and health-related products should be backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of trials conducted on people..."

3. I challenge whether the advertiser holds documentary evidence to prove any of the following claims, and I challenge whether the claims are backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of trials conducted on people:

(i) The claim that Macushield capsules "protect and support eye health" and "help maintain eye health into our later years"

(ii) The claim that "New scientific research has found that supplementing will all three yellow carotenoids...has resulted in the body taking up these vital compounds, and macular pigment levels being maintained."

(iii) The implied claim that the findings of this "scientific research" are applicable to Macushield capsules

4. The CAP Code, Section 7.1, states "No marketing communication should mislead, or be likely to mislead, by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise."

5. I challenge whether the advert is likely to mislead when it implies that the benefits (as explained in the advert) of naturally-produced cartenoids can be replicated by taking Macushield capsules.

6. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser, with the magazine, or with the publishing and alternative medicine industries in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser or the magazine.

7. I confirm that I am happy to be identified as the complainant."


  1. Hello - I'm very interested in your complaint about Macushield advertising, as my partner(who is himself a doctor) has macular degeneration and has been told by an optician that Macushield is producing "amazing results" within 2 weeks. A quick internet search did not produce any peer-reviewed papers or reports of double blind controlled trials. Of course my partner is appropriately sceptical but also of course these kind of claims can give people false hopes in a very cruel way. Have you had any resonse to your letter?

  2. Hello,

    Thanks for your comments. Regarding this complaint, I haven't had a reply yet. Issues of evidence are rather difficult and it's quite common for complaints of this sort to take a few months to resolve.

    I had also done a research for published evidence and drawn a blank.

    This doesn't necessarily mean the company's claims are not justified. However, I've noticed in previous adjudications that the ASA usually require evidence of the claims made about the product itself, not the individual ingredients it might contain. So, we shall have to wait and see.

    The apparent lack of clinical evidence ought to convince your partner to seek a second opinion - I'm not any kind of doctor, so it's not for me to offer one, but your partner's GP might be a good start.

    I'm assuming that your partner is aware of something called the "Macular Disease Society", and therefore also aware of a Daily Mail article and the following response:

  3. Please look at current eye research april 2010 and all these claims will be answered, Macushield is sold thru opticians only, and all research is available thru your local optician.

    A double blind placebo controlled study has been published at ARVO May 2010, with 100% success rates plus a safety analysis on the product has been published in Peer reviewed articles.

    4 More studies are currently in progress, with another paper to be published, I believe.

    This product is not another snake oil.

    It has the research.

  4. Does the research you mention concern Macushield specifically, or does it concern carotenoid supplements in general?

  5. the supplement concerned contained the same ingredients as macushield, ie meso-zeaxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin, nothing else, no other vitamins.

  6. That's interesting, but it may not be enough to substantiate the claim, for the reasons I explained above.

    Let's wait and see what the ASA have to say.

  7. We have been selling Macushield on line at for a few years. Whilst i am usually very sceptacle about these kind of claims, i have read the research (and have a research background (PhD)), met with researchers about this and have been very impressed. I think people should not expect a cure or even a slow down of progression from this product. Indeed, the papers have been a little irresponsible as it is not a 'Miracle' cure. However, i think it worth noting i have been warmed by a few people anicdotally who have found fabulous results but that is certainly not everyone. Let's hope the results provide some proof.

  8. I was just searching this as my mother has macular degeneration, and there does seem to be evidence that these compounds increase the level of macular pigments in the eye, and that these pigments protect against AMD. So it is reasonable to assume that taking these supplements will protect against AMD, though there's no evidence mesozeaxanthin is more effective than just the other two I think. Also it's only useful if your eyes are deficient in macular pigments.

    However there is no evidence that taking these compounds will improve AMD once it's developed, or even slow its progress. The advert is quite careful not to claim this, but it does kinda allow people to assume it.


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