I don’t know about you, but standing in the supplements aisle can be SUPER overwhelming! How many times have you been stumped, wondering how on Earth to choose between so many options with so many different ingredients?
Plus, you probably know even less about the actual ingredients going into all these supplements–some of which can be very harmful to your health. You are not alone! I’ve been there myself recently and now I’m here to help.
You know supplements are vital for your health–from boosting your immunity to increasing your mood, to so much more. And it’s essential we’re getting these vitamins and minerals into our bodies. But sometimes, there can be risks when taking certain supplements (and certain brands of supplements) that have added potentially dangerous ingredients. Ingredients that, over time, could lead to things like immune suppression, diseases, and even possible cancers.
But don’t worry. Not all supplements are like this, and we’ll dive into this further shortly. A good rule of thumb to ensure you’re getting safe ingredients is to always choose a high-quality supplement.
If you’re already consistently taking supplements, I applaud you! You’re ahead of the game. But now let’s take time to make sure your supplements are providing you with an effective dose– without any harmful ingredients.
What Ingredients to Look for on Your Supplements’ Label
I have to tell you… NOT all supplements are created equal!
Even if two supplements seem the same, it’s important to note that they can contain totally different ingredients. Ingredients other than the actual vitamin or mineral labeled on a supplement bottle are called “inactive ingredients” or “other ingredients”. This is what I want you to be aware of.
Just because an ingredient is “inactive” doesn’t mean it’s harmless.
Many manufacturers list inactive ingredients on their product labels. Yet they’re not required by law to do so. Whether one of these ingredients is on your label or not, it’s up to YOU to learn what these terms are, and how they may affect you. Let’s dive more into how to recognize ingredients that may sneak their way into your supplement, especially if they’re disguised as something else.
Avoid these 10 Ingredients in your Supplements
Next time you’re deciding on a supplement, make sure to check the label. Here are the top 10 ingredients to look out for in your supplements. And you will not find any of these 10 ingredients in my Essentially Whole Supplement Line.
#1: Stearic Acid and Magnesium Stearate
Magnesium Stearate and Stearic Acid (a simpler form of magnesium stearate) are two related compounds, and they’re commonly found in most supplements. It’s estimated about 90% of nutritional supplements contain one or the other.
Often they’re used to help speed up the production process. They also help supplements absorb quicker in your intestinal tract. But some side effects of long-term stearic acid use are:
- Immune suppression
- Slowing of digestion
- Formaldehyde risk
- Possible toxic contamination due to poor manufacturing practices
As our first ingredients on the list, it’s not that they’re the most dangerous, but they are the most common. Make sure to keep an eye out for these when buying your supplements.
#2: Gluten-Based Substances
Gluten-Based substances are also high on our list because inactive ingredients containing gluten can be disguised as other substances. They too are very common.
If you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, gluten-containing ingredients can cause you discomfort, and could even lead to further health complications.
Some of these ingredients you may see are:
- Wheat starch
- Starch hydrolysate
- Modified starch
- Dextrins and dextrates
Being aware of these ingredients is essential, especially if you have an underlying health condition.
#3: Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
A lot of us know about this one, but did you ever think it could be found in some of your supplements? Unfortunately–yes, they can be. MSG can cause toxic side effects including damage to the brain.
And the worst part is–some supplement companies are sneaky about this ingredient. Can’t blame them. Who would want to buy a supplement they knew had MSG in it?
Many “natural flavors” could be substances containing MSG. So, take the safe route and AVOID any supplements (and processed foods, while we’re at it) containing “natural flavors”. Not so natural after all!
This brings up a great point that sometimes when you see “natural” on any label, it’s best not to trust it right off the bat. For more tips on what to look out for on your food labels, read my blog Junk Food Disguised as Health Food.
Lactose is a sugar found in all dairy products, and many people can’t digest it. If you’re lactose intolerant, even supplements containing lactose can cause a problem for your health.
The source of lactose in supplements can also cause an issue. If it’s commercially derived and non-organic, you’re likely ingesting GMOs and unnecessary hormones as well. Regardless of if you’re lactose intolerant or not, it’s best to avoid this one.
Sometimes sugar is found in supplements. Even if your diet is sugar-free, do you know if your supplements are? Unfortunately, the biggest culprit for high sugar load is seen in children’s vitamin and mineral supplements.
Many popular kids’ vitamin brands contain high amounts of:
- Corn syrup
- Artificial color and artificial flavors.
Your kids may love those gummy vitamins, but try to encourage a vitamin with fewer additives and sugar. To learn more about spotting when companies may sneak in sugar, check out my podcast where I go in-depth on How to Spot a Glucose Spike on any nutrition label on packaged food.
Soy is another ingredient that may be listed in your supplements. Other names for soy products in supplements include:
- Soybean oil
- Soy lecithin
- Soy protein
Unless the label specifies it’s organic, soy products sold in the United States are almost always GMO-derived, which has been linked to reproductive cancers.
#7: Titanium Dioxide
Titanium Dioxide helps make your pills look pearly white. Many experts say it’s an unnecessary supplement ingredient because it’s only for aesthetics.
It’s a pigment found in many popular commercial supplement brands. But it’s man-made, and can lead to health issues. The European Chemicals Agency recently linked it to lung and respiratory tract cancers. It can also decrease the liver’s effectiveness.
Do your best to avoid any supplements with titanium dioxide, who needs shiny white pills anyway?
#8: D&C Red #33
Artificial colorings carry warning labels in Europe because of the link between them and hyperactivity in children. In the U.S., no warnings like this are required, but you should still recognize that these dyes may affect you or your family’s neurological health.
Again, these dyes are purely aesthetic to enhance the color of a pill.
Leave these toxins out of your supplements and out of your diet completely, for that matter.
#9: Methacrylic Copolymer
Methacrylic Copolymer is a coating agent used in many commercial supplement formulas. Studies on rats showed it can have “teratogenic” effects, meaning it can disturb normal fetal development. If you’re pregnant, it’s a must to avoid this known toxin.
#10: Methyl and Propyl Paraben
This category of supplement additives has a definite link to breast cancer, and cancers affecting the reproductive and endocrine systems. A study from the Journal of Reproductive Toxicology shows exposure to parabens can change hormone levels of the thyroid and the reproductive system.
Enough said on this one–the negative effects could be substantial, so make sure your supplements are free from these parabens.
The Bottom Line on Supplements
Supplements are essential to healing your hormones and maintaining good health. But SO much of what’s out there on the shelves can actually have the opposite effect– depending on their ingredients! Many supplements commonly sold are mass-produced and can contain toxins like the ten listed here.
But also keep in mind many “other ingredients” listed on your label are perfectly safe.
Some of these safe ingredients include:
- Organic plant cellulose
- Acacia fiber
- Vegetable stearate
- Silicon dioxide
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Fermented sprouted purple maize
- 100% organic, non-GMO gelatin and glycerin
Rest assured, you’re safe with me! I have a super high standard when it comes to my supplements. I always provide the optimal dose with high-quality ingredients to deliver results.
For example, my Vitamin D Complete Supplement helped to boost my low levels well into optimal range–with NO unneeded or unsafe ingredients.
And it may surprise you what that optimal range is. Learn more about how to get the most out of your Vitamin D supplement in this podcast. Supplements like my Neuro+ Support blend also increased my serotonin levels from a low to an ideal range. It enhanced my health as a woman dealing with an autoimmune disorder.
So, if you’re spending money on supplements for your health, make sure they help your body actually feel better, and are worth it! Check out more of my Essentially Whole supplement top sellers here. And as mentioned before, my supplements include none of these harmful ingredients, and they’re designed with you in mind!
FREE DOWNLOAD: Dr. Mariza’s Top 11 Supplements for Hormone Health
Ready to take charge of your own health?