Supplement quality is a subject that is very near and dear to my heart. In fact, Nature Works was founded on a commitment to quality, because I want my products to truly make a difference in the lives and health of my customers. Unfortunately, there are a lot of companies out there without this same commitment. A glance at the nutrition facts on many supplement labels will show fillers, chemical preservatives, artificial colors, and other toxic ingredients. Also, studies show that many products contain only a fraction of the herb or vitamin ingredients on their labels--if any at all. This is frustrating because, by taking these supplements, you are making a conscious decision to better your overall health. So what do you need to watch for, and where do you find them on the label?
When you look at a supplement label, you'll see the dietary and nutrition facts. Underneath that, you'll see "other ingredients". This is where things like the capsule (hypercellulose or gelatin) are usually listed, as well as any fillers, binders, flow agents, preservatives, or other ingredients that were used in the manufacturing.
What are fillers? Fillers are substances that either help absorb moisture, act as flow agents to prevent powdered product from sticking to manufacturing machinery, or simply to fill the space in a capsule, reducing the amount of active ingredient contained within each serving.
The four main types of fillers that I frequently see in supplements are:
Silicon Dioxide, aka Silica: This ingredient is often used as a flow agent. Silica is found in nature as sand or quartz. To be used in supplements, it is ground into a very fine powder. Silica isn't necessarily a toxic ingredient. In fact, it's found in most table salt because it absorbs moisture and prevents clumping. Because silica can pull double duty as a flow agent to speed manufacturing process as well as a capsule filler, you'll find it often in many supplements.
Microcrystalline Cellulose: This ingredient is simply a refined wood pulp. That's right, it's sawdust. Like silica, microcrystalline cellulose is also a relatively harmless filler that is used as an anti-caking agent, an emulsifier, and a capsule-filler in supplements.
Magnesium Stearate: Magnesium stearate is not the same as the mineral magnesium that you want to ingest as a supplement. Commonly referred to by other names, such as “vegetable stearate” or “stearic acid,” This is chemical is used to take space in capsules and prevent binding in manufacturing. Of the four fillers we often talk about, this ingredient is most likely to create a negative reaction, such as stomach discomfort, skin flushing, and headaches.
Magnesium Silicate: Magnesium Silicate is another name for talc (yes, the same talc found in baby powder). It is sometimes used as an anti-caking agent in powdered or capsulated supplements. Studies have linked it to ovarian and stomach cancer as well as lung inflammation. Keep a careful eye out for this ingredient!
Some companies use these ingredients as anti-caking or flow agents to create consistency in manufacturing. In some supplements, the dosage of the active ingredients is milligrams or micrograms, which means that capsule fillers are necessary to make a product you can actually consume. Additionally, some raw materials (such as Vitamin D) are very sticky or viscous. In order to put these raw materials into powder/capsule form, they often need to be mixed with something that removes the moisture, like silica. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it is important to know that, generally speaking, when you see more than one of these fillers on a label, it's likely that it's being used as a capsule filler and not a flow agent. When reading your labels, remember that active ingredients can be expensive, while fillers are very, very cheap. When you read a label and see several of these fillers, ask yourself a few questions, such as: 1- Is this product from a company I trust to put herbs or natural ingredients, not fillers in their products? 2- was this product very inexpensive compared to other similar products? 3- if there are 2-3 fillers in this capsule, then how much of the active ingredients or herbs are in there?
Other ingredients to avoid include:
Food dyes: Food dyes are included in many supplements- especially gummies, but they aren't always as safe as you think they are. While it's pretty well known that red food dyes can cause behavioral problems in children (and adults) who are sensitive to them, other food dyes can cause headaches, digestive upset, inflammation in the body, and some are even linked to cancer!
Soy: Unless soy is organic, you can pretty much guarantee it’s genetically modified, and the majority of customers I've worked with have a sensitivity or allergy to Soy in any form. Even small amounts of soy can cause an increase in estrogen levels in the body, causing headaches, migraines, cancer growth, inflammation, and all manner of digestive issues.
Preservatives: I've seen sodium benzoate, sorbic acid, dicalcium phosphate, proylene glycol, and propylparabens on supplement labels. These artificial ingredients have been linked to a myriad of symptoms ranging from headaches to palpitations, allergies and even cancer.
Artificial sweeteners: Asulfame potassum, asulfame-K, sucralose, saccharin, and asprtame are all common ingredients in gummies and liquid supplements. These artificial sweeteners have been strongly linked to cancer, digestive issues, Multiple Sclerosis, and other nervous system problems. We suggest finding a supplement that is sweetened with xylitol, stevia, erythritol or even sugar instead.
So, what are you waiting for-- go check out the products in your medicine chest, and see what's in your supplements. If you are feel like you need a replacement for some of your supplements and want a recommendation, or if you'd like to chat with me about our company's commitment to quality, give my office a call to schedule an appointment!
I have a story about microcrystalline cellulose, I was taking a natural thyroid med tablet every morning. I don’t have a thyroid, the surgeon removed it because of cancer.
After few years I was feeling some in my stomach every time I drink water and ate.
I continue until I was getting worse and started to loose some weight. I needed up with a gastroenterologist for an endoscopy. My diet was and it is very clean for me to be this way. The results showed that I had a bad inflammation in the lining of my stomach and the doctor told me stop eating Lucy foods, fry foods and watched what I drink etc..
My husband told him that I didn’t eat all that, so it was a puzzled. The doctors started thinking that I was only in my head instead of really investigating why my stomach lining was inflamed?
I started to examined my self since I woke up, what I was consuming and the first thing it was thy thyroid med and after that my breakfast and that is is when the pain started.
I called the lab at that time from my natural thyroid med and I get the surprise that they were not longer that lab that used make the tablet I stated taking few years ago.
They got defensive when I asked them for the composition of my med. I told the lady that I wasn’t planning to do anything legal and that my goal is to find out was us going on with my stomach that was all.
She gave it to me and there it was microcrystalline cellulose in the component of my medication.
I knew right there was happened to me and I decided to treat my self in a natural way and found another lab that later on couldn’t get one of the ingredients and I got in trouble. So I found the solution compound pharmacy.
I can tell you microcrystalline cellulose is damaging people stomach, what about people that have allergies to barks or certain types of trees. I am thankful I am her so now I don’t buy any products with microcrystalline cellulose even my supplements. Labs need to do more research about this hidden ingredient that is in everything we consume. Thank you for your time.
Hi, I get severe diarrhea if I take supplements containing cellulose, microcrystalline cellulose, vegetable stearate.
Could you please let me know where I can get the following without these ingredients. B1 50mg, B2 10 mg, Niacinamide 1000mg,Selenomethionine
100mcg, Molybdenum 100mcg.
First, of all thank God and thank you for educating us on the fillers that is in the other ingredients that are harmful to our bodies. I want to pray that God keeps his loving arms around you and your family. I also ask God to continue to protect us all that chooses to do the right thing in his eyes. I would like to know if you have information on vitamins that doesn’t required these fillers that are harmful to our bodies. Thank you and your team again…May God continues to use you to help others in your purpose.
Good evening. I really enjoyed your breakdown on the “other ingredients” I have been taking a vitamin D supplement which also contains calcium and vitamin K along with zinc. I have taken these because many have suggested they help to be in your body in case u catch Covid. I’d like to take a supplement with these or even separate at your recommendation. Can you please let me know what’s out there that’s good without all the fillers you mentioned? I am currently taking a supplement called Bone Defence. The lable says, KAL. Can you please give me your opinion in this supplement ? Thanks so much
What food supplement do I give to my father with increased level of creatinine. I want to give him supplement to help the creatinine down to normal level. I’m afraid if he will later on engage in dialysis. I need help. Thank you
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