When it comes to buying vitamins and other supplements, you may be surprised at what you’re swallowing unless you know about certain toxic ingredients to avoid in these products. Many people believe that popping lots of vitamins and supplements can enhance their health, and I used to be one of them. I cringe at the thought of what I used to be swallowing, but now I make sure I buy raw and/or whole foods supplements and “eat my vitamins” more than pop them from a bottle. Check out these nasty and downright scary toxic ingredients to avoid in supplements below. Then, I want you to look on the ingredient list of all your vitamins and supplements and trash any that have these on the label. Replace them with some of the suggestions below and you’ll be well on your way to healthier supplementation in no time.
One of the most toxic ingredients to avoid in supplements and foods is maltodextrin. Maltodextrin is a sweetener derived from GM corn, meaning it is laced with GMOs. You’ll find it in artificial sweeteners and tons of processed foods, sports supplements and protein powders, energy bars, sugar-free condiments, frozen foods, artificially sweetened yogurt and vitamins. It is often used to help agents flow during the processing of supplementation development and helps artificial sweeteners flow better during production. It also acts as a stabilizer and thickener in processed foods. Maltodextrin is basically another name for genetically modified corn and GMOs are one of the top toxic ingredients to avoid in today's food supply. The only other option for maltodextrin origination is from tapioca starch instead of corn starch, and if this is the case, the label will most likely say non-GMO, or tell you the maltodextrin comes from tapioca. Otherwise, ditch these products and go for versions without this on the list. Maltodextrin has been strongly correlated with inflammation, gout, digestive upset, and insulin sensitivity since it can spike your blood sugar rapidly like sugar can.
2. Magnesium Stearate
If you’re one of the many people out there who have heard magnesium is good for you, then you’re right. It is good for you, yet magnesium stearate isn’t even a source of magnesium or a derivative, despite its name. Magnesium stearate is just another flowing agent additive that has some pretty nasty side effects. This filler has been linked to digestive upset by causing a harmful “biofilm” in the intestines that can cause toxins to bind up in the intestines and cause various problems over time. Even reputable brands include this filler, so be sure to read the label. I like buying raw, whole foods vitamins and minerals from Garden of Life, which promise to be completely GMO-free and all their vitamins come from raw, whole food sources. You can find a list of their products here: iherb.com.
Dextrose is another name that basically means corn sugar. It is also GM derived, meaning it contains GMOs. Dextrose has been linked to increased abdominal fat and insulin resistance since it can raise blood sugar, even to variable degrees. You’ll find dextrose used as a filler in many diet foods and supplements, especially artificially sweetened foods and certain multivitamins. Be sure to read the label and remember that anything ending in “ose” technically means it is a form of some type of sugar.
4. Titanium Dioxide
I remember seeing this toxic ingredient on many of my vitamins and supplements, but before I was more cautious about what I put in my body, I just assumed it was a harmless agent used in processing. Now I know better and I shudder at the thought of ingesting this chemical that is now being called a carcinogen by certain health experts. Titanium dioxide is simply another additive used in supplements and it has been strongly linked to health risks including autoimmune disorders, cancer and other various diseases. It creates cell damage and has no benefit whatsoever.
Dimethylamylamine, or DMAA, was recently considered to be an illegal substance for manufacturers to include in vitamins and supplements, yet it is still being found on shelves. It is considered a highly toxic and even potentially deadly ingredient used in many weight loss supplements and sports supplements. DMAA has been linked to heart attacks, strokes, irregular heartbeats and problems with breathing. Be sure to buy with caution when buying any weight loss supplements or special sport performance products. If you see DMAA on the label, or the word dimethylamylamine, then put back the item and consider contacting the FDA to report the manufacturer of the product.
6. Synthetic Vitamins
Perhaps you see a food or supplement and it says something like “Added Vitamins and Minerals,” and you assume it is healthy. More vitamins are probably a good thing, right? Wrong, ladies! I used to believe this was a harmless marketing tactic myself, until I learned that anytime an alternative name is given for a vitamin, it comes from a scary synthetic source. All synthetic vitamins are man-made and not whole foods derived. Whole foods based vitamins use unique, bioavailable vitamins and minerals found in actual real foods, while synthetic vitamins are produced in a lab and come from coal tar and petroleum, just to name a few nasty sources. Most all vitamins and supplements on shelves today are man-made. You’ll be able to tell the difference because they include alternate names for real vitamins. For example, synthetic vitamins are typically listed on ingredient labels by their isolated names, such as ascorbic acid, which is Vitamin C; riboflavin, which is Vitamin B2; and dl-alpha tocopherol acetate or tocopherols, which are vitamin E, just to name a few. Unless the product says it is a whole foods supplement, or the ingredient list only includes plant food sources, put it back and seek out a whole foods source instead.
7. Soybean Oil
A lot of supplement providers that tout their products to be all natural include soybean oil on the ingredient list. It is used to make the supplement more gelatinous and used as a filler, much like gelatin is in supplements. All soy bean oil is GM derived, meaning it contains GMOs. Do not buy products with soybean oil because there are plenty of other sources that don’t include this nasty additive. GMOs have been linked to cancer, intestinal damage, diabetes and toxicity in various studies. Avoid them at all cost and consider visiting the Non GMO Shopping Guide's website to learn how to shop smart and avoid GMOs. You can find the list online here: nongmoshoppingguide.com, and even make a printable copy to take to the store with you.
I'm sure many of you were surprised to learn what some of these strange names we so often see on labels mean. I know some of them surprised me when I learned myself. Do you watch out for certain ingredients on the label when you buy vitamins and supplements? If so, what's on your radar?