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5 Harmful Ingredients Hiding In Your Supplements

Let's face this! While you may be consuming your vitamins and minerals daily to optimize your health, the quality of the supplements makes a huge difference. Many over-the-counter supplements contain harmful ingredients that you might be unaware of. Although FDA considers these substances to be generally safe, however, there are multiple evidence-based studies showing these substances can cause immunotoxicity, allergies, developmental disorders, infertility, cancer, and more chronic diseases. Therefore, it is important to learn about and pay attention to the ingredients!


1. Titanium Dioxide

Titanium dioxide, a common non-active ingredient in many dietary supplements. It is used as a white colorant and color enhancer. In the United States, titanium dioxide is commonly use in food, drugs and dietary supplements, however, in Europe countries, it has been banned as a possible carcinogen.


The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) lists titanium dioxide as a Group 2B carcinogen. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has also concluded that titanium oxide should not be considered safe as a food additive because of possible inflammation and genotoxicity - a chemical substance to damage cellular DNA.


Aside from damaging cellular DNA, titanium dioxide has also been shown to cause lung inflammation and damage. Taken it internally has been shown to cause kidney damage in mice and to induce small intestine inflammation. This is scary considering how many people suffering from Crohn's, ADHD, autoimmune diseases, asthma, gluten sensitivity and more are probably taking supplements containing titanium dioxide.



2. Sodium Benzoate

Sodium Benzoate is one of the widely used synthetic additives within food, beverage and supplements, it acts as a preservative to prolong the life of supplements. However, ingesting food and supplements containing high levels of benzene can cause side effects of stomach irritation, tiredness, dizziness, and even vomiting and convulsions. What's worse is when this additive reacts with Vitamin C, it becomes the carcinogen substance known as benzene. Unfortunately, a lot of food and supplements still contain both of the ingredients.



3. Soybean Oil (Hydrogenated Oil)

A lot of supplements have hydrogenated oil from genetically-modified soya bean as fillers. Hydrogenated oil, like trans-fat and solid fat, increases low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and decreases high-density lipoprotein (HDL) which results in coronary heart disease. Hydrogenated oil has been known to cause diabetes and obesity, but research has shown it could also affect neurological conditions like autism, Alzheimer's disease, anxiety, and depression.


Genetically modified soy has been heavily exposed to chemical pesticides, glyphosate, during production. Glyphosate is one of the widely used herbicides and it has been linked with a lot of chronic illnesses. It does not only disrupts the microbiome in the gut, but also has a cytotoxic and genotoxic effects, causes inflammation, and affects lymphocyte functions and the interactions between microorganisms and the immune system.


Unless it's organic soybean oil, you can pretty much guarantee it’s genetically modified.



4. Artificial Colors

The addition of artificial colors and dyes in supplements should be of particular concern to consumers. They are added simply to make your supplements look more appealing, however, they add no nutritional value plus many of the bright colors used for supplements have been linked to increased risk of cancer, allergies, and hyperactivity in children.


Artificial color and possible side effects

  • Red 40: hyperactivity, various cancers, and allergies.

  • Yellow 5: hyperactivity, chromosomal changes, allergies, and possible carcinogen

  • Yellow 6: hyperactivity, kidney and adrenal gland tumors

  • Blue 2: ADHD, allergies and brain tumor

  • Caramel color: Disrupt immune system and cancer

  • Green 3: Testicular & bladder cancer


If you are looking at labels for other products, steer clear of these names: FD&C Blue No.1, FD&C Blue No.2, FD&C Green No. 3, Orange B, Citrus Red No. 2, FD&C Red No. 3, FD&C Red No. 40, FD&C Yellow No.5, and FD&C Yellow No. C.



5. Magnesium Silicate

Magnesium silicate, aka Talc, is an addictive that most supplements contain. Unlike other forms of magnesium, magnesium silicate is synthetic and is not consider a food grade and could lead to more problems when ingesting it. Magnesium silicate is similar to asbestos in composition and can cause lung problems, as well as, increasing risk of stomach cancer when ingesting it.



How To Choose High-Quality Supplements?

It is always important to read the ingredients, these harmful substances are often under the "Other Ingredients". Watch out for the misleading or meaningless claims, including "Tested by an FDA approved laboratory" (FDA does not approve labs), "Contains clinically-tested ingredients" (Tested doesn't mean proven plus the combination of ingredients might not be tested). Find supplements with vegan ingredients and has third-party testing.


I always recommend my patients to go on Fullscript for supplements. Fullscript is an online dispensary with high-quality supplements. All featured products meet or exceed certified Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP), which means the supplements have passed inspection for authenticity and freedom from contamination or impurities.


References:

Winkler, H. C., Notter, T., Meyer, U., & Naegeli, H. (2018). Critical review of the safety assessment of titanium dioxide additives in food. Journal of nanobiotechnology, 16(1), 1-19.


Carbon Black, Titanium Dioxide, and Talc. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans Volume 93. 978-92-832-1593-6.


Olofinnade, A. T., Onaolapo, A. Y., Onaolapo, O. J., & Olowe, O. A. (2021). The potential toxicity of food-added sodium benzoate in mice is concentration-dependent. Toxicology Research, 10(3), 561-569.


Rueda-Ruzafa, L., Cruz, F., Roman, P., & Cardona, D. (2019). Gut microbiota and neurological effects of glyphosate. Neurotoxicology, 75, 1-8.


Argou-Cardozo, I., & Zeidán-Chuliá, F. (2018). Clostridium bacteria and autism spectrum conditions: a systematic review and hypothetical contribution of environmental glyphosate levels. Medical Sciences, 6(2), 29.


Bakthavachalu, P., Kannan, S. M., & Qoronfleh, M. W. (2020). Food color and autism: A meta-analysis. In Personalized Food Intervention and Therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorder Management (pp. 481-504). Springer, Cham.


Vojdani, A., & Vojdani, C. (2015). Immune reactivity to food coloring. Altern. Ther, 21, 1-100.


Hollinger, M. A. (1990). Pulmonary toxicity of inhaled and intravenous talc. Toxicology letters, 52(2), 121-127.

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