97% of supplements are toxic, ineffective or both
A study from the Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association (2000) found that 97% of vitamin and mineral supplements now being sold in “health food” stores are toxic, ineffective or both. There are even studies that have shown low quality supplements lead to hormone disruptions, liver failure, high blood pressure, and even heart attacks.
In this blog you will find many different types of ingredients that in some way are toxic and should be avoided if possible. However, there are almost no absolutes. To start, I always recommend muscle testing and consulting a nutritionist, homeopathic or naturopathic doctor for advice with what supplements are right for you.
The most important part of health and healing are the basics of proper diet, exercise, detoxification, structure, mental/emotional and spiritual health which all must be in order for true healing to occur. No supplement will work on its own if these foundations are not in place.
I will also say, that for some people, pure grades are possibly not the best for them. This is because they require a lot of detox and too many nutrients can put them in a healing crisis and make them feel worse. I will say though more than three months of the lesser grades or toxic ingredients may cause other problems. I myself often take a supplement for a few months, depending on what my body requires, based on muscle testing, then stop using it. But I am always supplementing with the highest grade whole food organic supplements I can find.
Do We Need to Take Supplements?
- Mineral Depletion in Soil:
Our foods don’t have the nutrients they used to years ago. This is partially because our soil is depleted of the minerals necessary to support nutrient dense foods but also because most soil is full of toxins from polluted air and water coming from above and below.
- Exposure to Toxins
This combined with the fact that our modern world is full of chemicals that create free radicals in our bodies - pesticides, auto exhaust, industrial pollution, formaldehyde, VOCs and other chemicals from home building and furnishing materials, as well as from paints and carpets. In addition most of us are exposed to chemicals from synthetic fragrances daily - even if you don’t use perfume, scented laundry detergents, fabric softeners or dryer sheets, there is also cosmetics, skin and hair care items, and household cleaners. And even if you have eliminated all that from your environment, every time you go out - to school, work, the store or the mall, or even to visit friends, you will most likely encounter synthetic fragrances that your body will need to detoxify and add nutrients necessary for basic function.
What Can You Do?
Our body uses nutrients especially vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to deal with these free radicals and detoxify the chemicals. So even if you eat 100% organic foods, 100% water and air filtration, 100% toxic free cleaning products and green household, you will still be exposed. This toxic exposure is more than ever before and non-stop. It should go without saying that the best source of natural vitamins is whole, unprocessed natural food but considering the above mentioned environmental issues causing less nutrition in food and more toxins to remove, in addition to a good diet, most nutritionist will agree we need to supplement.
10 out of 10 supplements are somehow Impure
With over 97% of vitamins having some bad ingredients in it, that means if you pick up 10 bottles of vitamins all 10 of them are bad. So you have to do your research, until you find one that is not. Every vitamin I take, I thoroughly research to be sure what I’m taking. (See what I supplement here)
Do your research to find reputable manufacturers of organically produced, natural, whole food, complete vitamins. Thanks to the efforts of watchdog organizations like the Organic Consumers Association, there’s a new manufacturing standard in place called the Naturally Occurring Standard (NOS). As the name implies, the criteria set to allow products to be labeled NOS not only ensures that they are organic and naturally occurring, but also fair trade certified and free of genetically modified (GMO) ingredients, synthetics and nanoparticles.
Steer clear of the Big Name brands that are often owned by giant players in the pharmaceutical industry. Also avoid products that are re-packaged for store brands designed to attract consumers with a cheap retail price. This is one case where cheaper is not better.
Why are there toxic ingredients in Supplements and how do I find them?
Most supplements contain harmful fillers and binders (also know as excipients) in order to put them in a usable form so they could be produced and sold on a mass scale. There are even unlisted fillers that have been shown to be present in supplements that are NOT listed on the label. This is why familiarity with the manufacturer is important.
List of Toxins in Supplements:
GMO’s in Supplements:
In order to save money, most common vitamins, including children’s vitamins, are found to contain GMOs. In fact, children’s vitamins are by far the most toxic because they’re usually formulated with a much higher concentration of toxic ingredients such as artificial sweeteners, artificial colors and GMO-derived materials. For example, Flintstones Vitamins, are loaded with genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), aspartame, aluminum, petroleum-derived artificial colors, and all sorts of other toxic additives that are literally poisonous to humans, and especially to children. In addition to all the other problems associated with GMOs these are shown to kill your gut bacteria.
High-fructose corn syrup,
– These are often GMO and don’t have to be labeled as GMO because they are so heavily processed that all DNA is destroyed in the process, having no genetic material remaining, thereby sweeping their origins under the rug. Unless it specifically states from Non-GMO sources, assume that it is GMO.
Vitamin C / Acorbic acid (from GM corn)
- Here’s a whopper that’s sure to open some eyes: Nearly all the “vitamin C” sold in vitamins across America right now is derived from GMO corn. This means that many of the supplements sold at Whole Foods, the vitamins sold on Amazon.com, the pills at your local pharmacy, and especially the products at the grocery store are (nearly) all routinely made with genetically modified vitamin C. It’s typically called “ascorbic acid,” and nearly 100% of the ascorbic acid used in the natural products industry is derived from GMOs. Sourcing non-GMO vitamin C requires going outside the United States, since there is no existing supply of certified organic, non-GMO ascorbic acid available anywhere in America (at least not to my knowledge). You can’t even run batches of non-GMO ascorbic acid production in the USA because all the facilities are contaminated with residues of GM corn.
Natural citrus juice, rose hips or even camu camu berry powder is a much better choice of natural, full-spectrum vitamin C. But be careful of the wording, for example, “vitamin C with rosehips” invariably means synthetic vitamin C with added rosehips, although it is often confused with vitamin C from rosehips.
Other GMO’s to avoid in supplements: Soy Lecithin, Inositol, Vegetable oil, Zein, and Vegetable Cellulose (unless they specifically state non-GMO on the bottle, then is okay)
Hexane-extracted soy, rice and vegetable proteins
– A high percentage of the “natural” soy proteins sold in the USA are extracted in China using a hexane extraction method. The only manufacturer and distributor of brown rice protein in the USA, which is not, is called “hexane-free, non-GMO, Prop 65 compliant, Gamma Oryzanol-rich whole grain Oryzatein powder” and the manufacturer is Axiom. They supply brown rice protein in the USA, and this is the best brown rice protein product available, partially because it is NOT hexane extracted. So if you’re buying anything with brown rice protein, make sure it’s sourced from Axiom. Also eat only certified organic brown rice protein, if eating that at all.
Anything from China, by the way, should be double checked for metals content just to make sure it’s all clean. Many nutritional products from China can be contaminated with worrisome levels of metals. I do however use a well-tested source of goji berries (grown in the Himalayas) from China for example. Hexane is a highly explosive chemical, is extremely hazardous to the environment, and there may also be trace amounts of hexane remaining in the resulting protein products. My understanding is that hexane extraction is not allowed in certified organic proteins, so if you have a choice, go for certified organic instead of just “natural” (which means nothing anyway).
More Toxic Ingredients to avoid:
Stearic Acid and Magnesium Stearate
- Despite its name, magnesium stearate is not a dietary source of the essential macromineral magnesium. Made with stearic acid, this compound is an effective lubricant, used for mass supplement manufacturing to prevent capsules and tablets from sticking to each other. It is found in an estimated 90 percent of all vitamin supplements. Studies suggests that magnesium stearate could inhibit nutrient absorption of dietary supplements and that stearic acid could suppress the activity of our natural killer cells, T cells, which could lead "to a loss of membrane potential and ultimately cell function and viability." (source: Immunology) This compound is usually sourced from GMO crops and sprayed heavily as well.
- Both sodium selenite and selenate are classified as dangerous and toxic to the environment. They can be carcinogenic and genotoxic, and may contribute to reproductive and developmental problems in animals and humans.
- The Cornucopia Institute, a highly-effective food activism group recently published a warning about carrageenan in foods saying it is linked to “gastrointestinal inflammation, including higher rates of colon cancer, in laboratory animals.” And goes on to say, Given its effect on gastrointestinal inflammation, Cornucopia urges anyone suffering from gastrointestinal symptoms (irritable bowel syndrome/IBS, spastic colon, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic diarrhea, etc.) to consider completely eliminating carrageenan from the diet to determine if carrageenan was a factor in causing the symptoms.
- Often used as a pigment in vitamins and supplements, has been linked to causing autoimmune disorders, cancer, and various other diseases. It belongs to a class of particles known to cause cell damage. "Titanium dioxide has recently been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as an IARC Group 2B carcinogen 'possibly carcinogen[ic] to humans,'" explains the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety on its website. "This evidence showed that high concentrations of pigment-grade (powdered) and ultrafine titanium dioxide dust caused respiratory tract cancer in rats exposed by inhalation and intratracheal instillation." (http://www.naturalnews.com/027000_titanium_dioxide_vitamins.html)
- Common sand used as an expensive filler that makes the bottle weigh more with the hope that the uneducated consumer will equate weight with higher quality.
- Not as common in reputable brands, but many mainstream supplement, such as the Pfizer-owned brand marketed as Centrum, contain toxic coloring agents like FD&C Blue No. 2 Aluminum Lake and FD&C Red No. 40 Aluminum Lake, both of which are potential neurotoxins.
- a common term for toxic MSG used to disguise bland tastes.
Other fillers to avoid in supplements: Methylcellulose, carnauba wax, silica, sorbitol, benzoic acid, sodium benzoate, gums, plasdone products, povidone, starch (corn), Sodium Starch Glycolate, Talc, Pregelatinized Starch, Croscarmellose, (anything with propyl or ethyl) Hydroxy Propyl Cellulose, Ethylcellulose, Crospovidone, Shellac, Propylene glycol, sodium laurly sulfate, laureth sulfate, Potassium Sorbate, acrylamides, yeast extract, glaze,
How Bad Are These Toxins?
Although it is true that most healthy people will have no obvious side effects from ingesting the small amount of toxins found in cheap vitamins, the long term consequences of continuous, daily intakes are potentially dangerous. Over 7% of the population displays sensitivity to some of these chemicals which, for the most part, do not elicit immediate allergic reactions in the average healthy person. Allergic reactions can affect any organ system in the body including the brain which often displays symptoms such as fatigue, memory loss, depression, anxiety, hallucinations and insomnia. This is also not to say that they have no benefit in all situations. Although I would not use a supplement with these myself, I know the placebo effect can help as well as a deficiency of a certain vitamin or mineral will be helped, in the short term, but over time the toxic build up will cause other deficiencies, so why not just find a better brand.
What are your supplements made with?
(V caps or Vegatable Capsules are the best choice, as long as it states Non-GMO on the label)
- Tablets - Contain hidden toxins. When the FDA first approved the use of tablets, they were never intended to be used long term. By their very nature, tablets need glues and binders (both of which are toxic) to hold them together. In addition, the nutrients become highly heated when smashed together to form a hard tablet. This greatly reduces the effectiveness of the nutrients. Tablets are hard to digest and assimilate. When tablets are consumed long term, the toxic chemical agents can bio-accumulate and later create new symptoms, toxicity and absorption problems. Stay away from vitamins, minerals, herbs and other supplements that are made out of tablets.
- Gelatin Capsules - Gelatin capsules are also hard to digest, requiring a certain temperature of liquid in order to dissolve. When taking gelatin capsules, a sticky glue-like effect can be created in the intestines, inhibiting assimilation and causing digestive problems. Ever feel sick at your stomach after taking a nutritional product? Your body is relaying the message back to you that the product is toxic to your system. Gelatin, coming from animal hooves and other animal parts, may contain toxic preservatives, chemicals, hormones, and antibiotics that have been fed to the animals. Soybean oil is also often used as a filler in gelcap-based supplements, and is a common source of GMOs.
- Time release tablets are perhaps the most worrisome. For example, the release of 1000 mg. of Vitamin C over a period of 6 hours may require the addition of 400 mg. of hydrogenated oil (plastic butter) to the tablet. The addition of more oil prolongs the release, while the use of less allows quicker disintegration.
- Vcaps - The Best Choice, as long as it is a non-GMO brand. Vegetable capsules (Vcaps) are easy to digest and assimilate, add increased fiber to the intestines, dissolve regardless of the temperature of the liquid in the stomach, and create no problem with nausea or indigestion. Take only pure vegetable capsules for healthy digestion and absorption.
Supplements in a vegetable-based capsule, powder or liquid form do not have such requirements to bind or make easy to swallow and are far less likely to contain toxic additives.
In Part Two, I show you how to identify synthetic ingredients which also should be avoided
Which vitamins should you take?
Every body is different. Just because clever marketing on TV or a health magazine makes out a particular supplement to be beneficial in a study, does NOT mean that this particular supplement is what YOUR body needs. Examples of supplements I believe most people can benefit from, simply because it's very difficult to get enough of them from your diet, include high-quality omega-3 and probiotics. If you do not get sufficient amounts of sunshine then an oral vitamin D3 supplement would also be in order. A high percentage of people are also deficient in magnesium, so that is a good start, but I suggest going to a naturopath or someone that does muscle testing to help you figure out what particular nutrients your body may be lacking.
Click here to see (part 3) my blog on which supplements I take and why and which I feel can be replaced with foods.
How to Choose a Supplement:
Generally speaking, all natural, non-synthetic, whole food ingredient supplements that are contained in vegetable capsules tend to be the best supplements to purchase. A high-quality supplement will also be free from additives and potential allergens. Certain superfoods, such as Moringa oleifera, wheatgrass, chlorella and spirulina, tend to be far better sources of nutrients than manufactured multivitamin supplements, even if the latter are free from undesirable binders and fillers.
Next, you need to make sure that the manufacturer is doing its job in finding quality raw ingredients, and during the manufacturing process. A good starting point is to ask for opinions for which companies are best at a reputable health food store, and also look for manufacturers that are ISO 9000, ISO 9001, or NSF certified. To gain these certifications a manufacturer will voluntarily submit to exhaustive -- and costly -- auditing of their processes to be sure they are superior.
These Two Sites Check for Toxic Ingredients and Review supplements for free:
My suggestion is to check each supplement you want to take through these sites as well as word search all the ingredients on the label with this blog:
- www.Toxinless.com - This is an excellent free resource for when you want to buy a new product to find out what toxins, fillers or anything else unnatural is in it or not. It can tell you if your products are pure or not.
- http://www.consumerlab.com/ - this site also reviews vitamins and mineral supplements
Some of the Better Brands:
The higher-end retailers such as Natural News, Mercola, Gary Null, etc., all routinely test their raw materials for contaminants. I'm pretty sure Gaia herbs (www.GaiaHerbs.com) routinely tests all their batches, and I know that VitaCost, before it changed hands a few years ago, was running their own lab to test raw materials on-site (for their in-house formulations). Also look for the USDA organic logo when you buy "organic" products. If they don't have the logo, they aren't really organic.
Here are some companies that I have found that use whole food, organic ingredients and do not use fillers, toxic ingredients, or synthetics. Anything you decide to purchase I would check through the above websites as well. (toxinless.com & consumerlab.com)
Thorne Research - available only through licensed health care professionals and in some pharmacies.
Global Healing Center - http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/?a_aid=52a01bbfd0ec6 - Global Healing Center is a great source for organic living and natural health. They offer a wide variety of high quality, green living lifestyle products to help you maintain a clean body and live a healthy lifestyle. They are 100% organic, non GMO, non Toxic and environmentally and animal friendly. I especially like there colon and liver cleansing products.
Premier Research Labs - www.qnhshop.com/home.php Pink Salt, Greens Mix, Digest, and HCL are among some of the execeptional products PRL produces. They are committed to developing and providing 100% non-toxic, high quality products. They only use vegetable capsules since tablets require excipients to bind nutrients together and their products are guaranteed to not have any herbicides, insecticides, pesticides, heavy metals, fumigants, irradiation, etc. They only use “once living” sources instead of syntheitc ingredients so you're getting food based supplementation. Finally, they package their products in Violite™ containers that block the range of light known to rancidify fats. They are truly top quality.
Body Ecology bodyecology.com - Based on the book The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates, these products are all specifically designed to help cultivate, nourish, cleanse and repair the digestive system. Since our digestive systems are intimately linked to our immune, endocrine, circulatory and central nervous systems, starting with digestion can get right to the root of many illnesses. This is a fabulous, comprehensive dietary plan that we have begun recommending to just about anyone and everyone, so we highly suggest you read the book and check out their products!
MegaFood receives the first non-GMO certification in the industry
When it comes to high quality food-based nutrients in a pill format, nobody beats MegaFood, the supplier Natural News has chosen as its supplement partner.
MegaFood’s manufacturing facility is the first and only facility in the United States to be certified non-GMO. Certification of all the company’s products is under way, but I have personally been informed that the entire product line has been 100% non-GMO since 2007. (Actual certification takes time and will be announced when the process is complete.)
Consumers looking for truly non-GMO sources of health-supporting minerals can check out MegaFood’s Balanced Minerals formulation.
Those seeking thyroid support should take a look at MegaFood’s Thyroid Strength formulation.
And for non-GMO multivitamins made from real food rather than isolated chemicals, MegaFood offers a full line of daily multivitamins for men and women.
– gmos in vitamins – www.healthy-holistic-living.com/consumer-alert-common-vitamins-including-childrens-vitamins-found-contain-gmos.html#
– synthetics – thenaturalhealthpage.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/the-10-worst-toxins-hidden-in-vitamins.html
– synthetics – Brian Clement PhD NMD. Nutri-Con: The Truth About Vitamins & Supplements. The Vitamin Myth Exposed. 2005 December 31.
– Synthetics – www.foodmatters.tv/articles-1/how-to-tell-if-a-vitamin-is-natural-or-synthetic
Standard FDA Disclaimer: All statements on this website are for informational purposes only. No product mentioned here is intended to cure, treat, prevent or diagnose any disease. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved these products. We recommend that people consult their health practitioner for advice.
As with most supplements, you should always use caution and read up on potential side effects before self-medicating. Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it can’t cause potential problems.