Isn't your health worth taking the extra time to eat healthy as well as make sure that you are taking the vitamins and supplements that your body needs? We take vitamins so that we can stay healthy, but many people don't realise that low-quality vitamins can do more harm than good. Low-quality supplements often contain toxic fillers and binders that are bad for your health and wellbeing, minimising the beneficial effects you think you'll be getting from the vitamins.
Not only do low-quality supplements have fillers, they oftentimes also lack real nutritional value. A rule of thumb to use is to look at the ingredient list: if you can't pronounce something in the supplement, you probably shouldn't be taking it. Another thing to look out for is food colourings.
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Many common food colours are known to be toxic, have been linked to ADHD, aggressive behaviour and hyperactivity, and can even disrupt proper brain function. Lastly, be aware of the ingredients that come from GMO crops. Maltodextrin and ascorbic acid most often come from GMO corn you know, the corn that is genetically engineered to have pesticide in the corn itself, making it toxic to the bugs that eat it. Cheap multivitamins are likely to contain toxic elements and be contaminated with heavy metals from raw materials sourced from areas with possible water, air, and soil pollution or questionable agricultural practices.
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There's also risk for product contamination during transport or during processing when supplements may be diluted or adulterated with fillers or other additives. Another concern is the use of excipients, the non-active ingredients in any given supplement, which are used in the manufacturing process to aid in product stability, bio-availability, appearance etc. These ingredients theoretically must be GRAS generally recognised as safe but may include unwanted substances like GMO soybean oil, modified cellulose gum, chemical sweetening agents like aspartame, and more.
Health risks include allergic reactions and potential for interactions with other drugs the patient may be taking. Potential microbial contamination poses a risk for infectious disease. There are also concerns involving carcinogenic risks, neurologic risks, and potentiation of other chronic diseases which may impact long-term health and quality of life. Excipients is the fancy word for fillers. These are additives used to formulate medicines.
They include preservatives, diluents, binding agents, and colourants to name a few.
Most are not harmful; however, they do have pharmacological activity and can cause side effects. Below are a few examples of excipients found in multivitamins. Certain colourants may cause hyperactivity in children. Some colorants that can cause this are allura red, carnosinemia or quinoline yellow. If you notice this symptom with certain medications, you can ask to have it formulated without colourants. Lactose can be used as a filler to bulk up supplements.
Lactose intolerance occurs in patients who lack the intestinal enzyme lactase. You can present with abdominal bloating, cramping and diarrhoea. These symptoms are rare but can occur if you are severely allergic. Do you have a peanut allergy? If your medication has arachis oil this is derived from peanuts. Though used in small amounts, those with severe peanut or soy allergies should avoid medications containing this derivative.
Preservatives such as chloroform, parabens, benzoates, sorbates and sulfites should be avoided in children due to potential exacerbation of hyperactivity and possibly death. Sweeteners are used to formulate liquid medicines. These contain glucose, sucrose and may cause dental caries or increase blood sugar levels in diabetics. Sorbitol is a sweetener that also acts as a laxative and can cause diarrhoea. Some have controversial ingredients such as silicon dioxide and corn maltodextrin. Though there are studies in animals that have shown an increased risk of cancer and organ damage there have not been any links to these adverse events in humans.
In summary, the more natural your multivitamin is the safer it is for you and reduces the risk of developing adverse reactions. Some multi-vitamin supplements contain various artificial colours including titanium dioxide, which is also sometimes used as a 'filler' , which may be involved in health and behavioural problems. Others can contain hydrogenated trans-fatty acids which pose health risks. Sometimes as a filler or anti-caking agent, magnesium silicate is used it is similar in composition to asbestos and can cause lung problems when inhaled.
Unnecessary binding agents and other chemicals are often found in supplements. A lot of supplements use things like sodium starch glycolate as their major disintegrant: since this ingredient is made from starchy foods, it can have negative effects for people who have gluten intolerance or mycotic infections.
But probably the biggest problem, overall, is that most multivitamin supplements contain "nutrients" in chemical forms that are NOT found in nature. Chemicals such as cupric sulfate and boric acid can be present in many best selling supplements and some believe they can cause DNA damage and birth defects.
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Vitamins and supplements are not regulated by the FDA when purchased from random retailers - even well-known retailers such as GNC, CVS, Vitamin Shop - they can be full of literally all substances you mentioned and more, including yeast, pesticide residue, benzopyrene, residual solvents, salmonella, etc.
You want supplements that are researched, third-party assayed, medical-grade products! While most multivitamins sold in drugstores offer the "one-a-day" type dosing, this strategy may not be optimal for absorption. Unfortunately, many people are not able to properly digest these tablets to extract all the nutrients due to decreased stomach acidity. This is especially common in the elderly and those taking antacid medications. Another common problem with multivitamins is the presence of Vitamin A and beta carotene.
Vitamin A and beta carotene are fat-soluble and therefore have a higher potential to cause liver damage if taken in excessive amounts.
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High doses of vitamin A are also known to cause birth defects if taken by pregnant women. However, even lower doses have been shown to increase cancer risk in smokers and those who consume alcohol excessively. When it comes to getting your recommended daily intake of Vitamin A, its best to stick to food sources such as carrots, sweet potatoes and other red and orange vegetables. Vitamins and minerals all have various chemical forms, some of which are more absorbable than others.
An example of this is vitamin B12, which can typically be found in 3 various forms: cyanocobalamin, hydroxocobalamin, and methylcobalamin. Cyanocobalamin is synthetic and cheapest to produce, therefore this is the one most commonly found in multivitamins. However is it less absorbable to the body. For best absorption, look for a multi with either methylcobalamin or hydroxocobalamin as the sources of B A similar scenario is true for both folate and Vitamin E.
If this sounds like a daubing task, as your Naturopathic Doctor to recommend a product that's best for your needs.
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Many brands of multivitamins often contain artificial colours, flavours and other various unhealthy ingredients such as polyethylene glycol and hydrogenated oils. Always make sure to chose professional brands that have undergone third-party laboratory testing. The supplement label should clearly state that the product does not contain preservatives, artificial flavour or colour, yeast, soy, gluten or sugar as these can trigger sensitivity reactions in many people.
Supplements are not regulated strictly as pharmaceutical medication and there have been many industry discrepancies over the years. Consumers face issues buying supplements over-the-counter, buying supplements out of convenience stores, at online retailers like Amazon, and buying supplements because a good-intentioned influencer such as a family member recommended it. Nearly dietary supplements sold over the counter from through contained unapproved drug ingredients. What does this mean for the consumer? Potentially harmful active pharmaceuticals continue to be found in over-the-counter dietary supplements.
There is also a lot of discrepancy with the quality of over-the-counter supplements. While integrative pharmacies may carry a selection of professional-grade supplements most pharmacies carry lower quality supplements. Therefore, individual health concerns should be taken into consideration when choosing a vitamin or supplement to see if these ingredients or even the main ingredient will cause any problems. The caveat of course if they and their influencer mom, dad, brother, sister, friend, cousin, or others have the same health goals and same health history. When choosing what supplements are right for your unique body chemistry medication use, health history and health goals need to be considered by a professional such as a Wellnicity Clinician.
Also, online retailers raise the risk of counterfeit products - which in turn have a higher risk of having unhealthy ingredients or ingredient ratios. Online shopping on Amazon is becoming our go-to for anything and everything from cookbooks to dog food to sofas. But buying supplements at online retailers including Amazon, Walmart and eBay can be risky business as all have faced surges in counterfeit shops repackaging knock-off supplements.
I think the main issue with cheap multivitamins has less to do with the binders and more to do with the actual supplement. There's a huge misconception that the supplement industry isn't regulated, it is! The problem is, there are standards that supplement companies are supposed to abide by, but the FDA doesn't check every single company unless there is a complaint. So, some supplement manufacturers will cut corners and either not put the actual ingredients in the supplement at all, or put a much lower amount and thus leading to a low-quality product.
Another problem with cheaper multivitamins is that many of the vitamins are in the poorest absorbable form. With so much information online and so many supplement brands to choose from, it's difficult to know what option is going to be best for your health. The most important thing to look for is purity of ingredients and only go with supplements without added fillers, colours, or preservatives because these can continue to perpetuate inflammation and symptoms for those with chronic health problems.
Additionally, it's also important to only choose brands that provide information on their ingredient testing and sourcing. Even if the supplement doesn't contain any fillers, if the ingredients aren't pure or organic they could still have been exposed to toxins that you are therefore ingesting. While some consumers believe that common, inexpensive multi-vitamins and supplements might be ineffective, the consensus is that they are still safe.
In my experience as an Acupuncturist routinely educating patients on the use of dietary supplements and vitamins, my biggest concern is always drug-herb or drug-supplement interactions and supplements that are poorly produced which often contain contaminants and do not contain the correct dose of active ingredients as listed on the label. When multivitamins are formulated poorly without proper acknowledgement of how the vitamin will break down in the body and be absorbed, another issue arises where the components of the multivitamin serve as antagonists toward each other producing the opposite of their intended effect for the consumer.
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