What Ingredients Should You Avoid in Supplements?

Unnecessary additives such as magnesium stearate, silicon dioxide, titanium dioxide are often found in supplements but offer no nutritional value and can even be harmful to your health. Learn what ingredients you should avoid when taking supplements.

What Ingredients Should You Avoid in Supplements?

Unnecessary additives, such as magnesium stearate, silicon dioxide, titanium dioxide, starch, microcrystalline cellulose, stearic acid, simethicone, vegetable gum, talc and propylene glycol, are often found in supplements. These ingredients offer no nutritional value and can even be detrimental to your health. Titanium dioxide is a common additive used in paints, cosmetics, paper and sunscreens. It has no real nutritional value and only serves as a filler to whiten products.

Although approved by the FDA in very small quantities (less than 1 percent of the formulation), health advocates blame this dye for side effects such as allergies, stomach cancer, autoimmune disorders and organ toxicity. When inhaled as a powder, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies titanium dioxide as possibly carcinogenic to humans. Magnesium silicate is another additive used commercially in deodorants and cosmetics. It is mixed with most white-coated minerals, supplements and vitamins.

Some supplements also contain fillers such as hydrogenated oil from genetically modified (or non-organic) soybeans. This filler is known to cause cardiovascular problems, diabetes, nervous system problems and lack of absorption of essential fatty acids. Unfortunately, many supplements sold online and on main streets contain harmful ingredients such as magnesium stearate, talc, titanium dioxide (a carcinogen) and even boiled pig hands, animal intestines and lamb's tongues. Most people don't know how to check the label or what ingredients contain hidden harmful additives.

Collagen supplements are made from boiled skin and bones of cows or from fish skin, bones and scales (“marine collagen”). There is no such thing as a vegan collagen supplement: the only vegan collagen is the one that the body produces on its own. Increasing the body's collagen production through diet or natural supplements that stimulate the amino acids needed to produce collagen is more effective for healthier, brighter skin than taking a collagen supplement. Skin Saviour is a plant-based prebiotic and probiotic designed to do just that. Magnesium stearate is one of the most common and unpleasant additives in supplements.

Animal-based magnesium stearate is made from pork fat, beef fat or chicken fat and is used as a coating in tablets or as a filling in capsules. Plant-based magnesium stearate is made mainly from palm oil and is used for the same purpose. Too much magnesium stearate has a laxative effect, irritates the mucous membrane of the intestine and causes diarrhea. Titanium dioxide is classified as a carcinogen by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Some of the biggest brands have used titanium dioxide to color their supplements white for decades.

Not only is it now rightly considered unsafe but it also stimulates free radicals that can damage the body's cells. Glucosamine is found naturally in cartilage, the tissue that protects joints, and is often taken as a supplement for joint pain and inflammation. Glucosamine can be obtained from shellfish shells or manufactured synthetically in a laboratory. Tablets contain a large amount of unnecessary additives so it's best to avoid them if possible. Capsules can also contain unpleasant or unnecessary additives such as magnesium stearate, lanolin or glucosamine so it's important to check the ingredients list before taking them. At HUM Nutrition we consciously choose to formulate our supplements without certain ingredients which we believe are bad for our health or do not meet our safety and quality standards.

We never formulate with things like titanium dioxide which is currently banned by the European Union or artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, acesulfame-K or neotame which have been linked to adverse health effects including deterioration of gut health. We also avoid pharmaceutical polish which can contain up to 51 percent shellac or titanium dioxide which does not need to be disclosed on labels. Talc has been used for years in cheap and expensive supplements to prevent other ingredients from sticking together but it should be avoided due to its potential health risks. When selecting supplements, it's important to read labels carefully to make sure they don't contain any unnecessary additives or fillers that could be harmful to your health.

At HUM Nutrition we have developed our list of 12 difficult ingredients with which we always formulate our supplements without so you can be sure you're getting only safe and effective ingredients.

Darlene Flint
Darlene Flint

A blogger who covers about health supplements in depth and educating people before they start taking it.