According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), hundreds of millions people worldwide are taking supplements for potential health benefits. Unfortunately, it might be dangerous to consume the wrong types, quantities or brand of supplements. All supplements are not created equal
Many supplements contain chemical compounds that are not found in nature and that can be detrimental to your health. While they may not kill you, your body cannot utilize them as it can ingredients from plants or other real foods. Some of the chemicals used in these supplements may include nicotine, coal tars and alloxan, which are toxic substances.
According to the Organic Consumers Association, most fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) are especially dangerous in synthetic form, as they can build up in your body's fat tissues and liver. Because they are unnatural substances that your body cannot readily metabolize, when taken in large megadose these synthetic supplements can potentially be toxic. The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals reports that nine trace minerals should be consumed in very small amounts because all trace minerals are toxic at high levels. These minerals include chromium, copper, iodine, iron, fluorine, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc. Always question the coloring and preservatives
Many supplements contain ingredients to help preserve their appearance and stability. BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
has been linked to liver toxicity and some forms of cancer. It prevents the breakdown of fats and is used in a range of products to improve the shelf-life of fat-based products. Binders are chemicals that hold ingredients together, often to keep them in the "shape" of a tablet. They are also used to add volume if the active ingredient in the actual pill is very low. Lactose and sucrose are often used as binders. Lactose intolerant should pay careful attention. Coatings such as gelatin are used to make capsules smooth and easy to swallow. Gelatin
is made from animal products, not good for vegans. Coloring and flavoring used in many vitamins use artificial colors
to make them look appealing. Colorants like FD&C Blue, Green, Red, and Yellow
are approved by the FDA and particularly notable in children's vitamins. Many are linked to ADHD and immune system problems. Titanium Dioxide
is used as a colorant to give supplements and cosmetics a clean, white appearance. Studies link it to immune system problems, inflammation, DNA damage and kidney toxicity. Fillers can be killers Fillers are used to "bulk" a product up so that it looks larger or more potent. Magnesium Silicate
- is talc (as in talcum powder or baby powder) and is used as an anti-caking agent in powder supplements. Studies link it to stomach cancer and lung inflammation. Magnesium Stearate / Stearic Acid
- is made from a combination of magnesium and stearic acid. It is used as a lubricant or "flow agent" to keep the materials from sticking to the machines during the manufacturing of supplements. Magnesium stearate
is also used as a coating for tablets. Controversy surrounds the use of magnesium stearate
because the stearic acid is often taken from cottonseed, canola or palm oil. Most cottonseed and canola oils are sourced from GM crops, and palm oil is unsustainable. Sodium Benzoate
is linked to various cancers. Sodium benzoate
may form benzene when taken with ascorbic acid. Sodium benzoate
damages cells and DNA.
Many supplements contain heavy metals and toxic chemicals. In March 2010, the Mateel Environmental Justice Foundation commissioned testing on several fish oil supplements. It was found that the supplements contained PCB, a cancer-causing chemical that was banned from use in 1979 but is still very much present in the environment. The group consequently sued the manufacturers of these supplements, including CVS Pharmacy, GNC, Now Health Group, Omega Protein, Pharmavite, Rite Aid, Solgar and TwinLab.
A May 2010 article in the "New York Times" reported that almost every herbal dietary supplement tested in a congressional investigation contained trace amounts of contaminants such as lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic. Sixteen of the 40 supplements tested also contained pesticide residues. Who will you trust?
The FDA reports that, while the government is responsible for corrective action, it is the responsibility of supplement manufacturers to ensure safety. For this reason, choose a manufacturer that can prove that safety testing has been done on both the supplement ingredients and the finished product. So, what can you do?
Now that you know which chemicals and additives to avoid, you can take extra care... Click to continue reading online...
Disclaimer: The Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated these statements. These statements and products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.