Additives, Fillers, & Binders
Companies often add fillers and binders to supplements to keep them shelf stable and to form their shape. These fillers can be detrimental to your health by causing allergies and binding to the active ingredients which prevent them from being absorbed. Fillers and binders to watch out for include:
Wheat, Lactose: Watch carefully for these if you have a wheat and dairy intolerance/allergy. There is also a concern that this ingredient has a GMO source.
Magnesium stearate: There is a concern that the source of this ingredient is a GMO. This can bind to the active ingredients and prevent absorption. There is some evidence that this negatively impacts the Natural Killer cells of your immune system.
Hydrogenated oils: These contain trans fats which are detrimental to your cholesterol and blood lipids, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Talc/Magnesium Silicate: This is a cheap filler which can have detrimental effects when inhaled, and has also been speculated to increase the risk of stomach cancer.
Carrageenan: This thickening agent can cause inflammation in the digestive tract and worsen IBS, Crohn’s and Colitis.
Potassium Sorbate: This is a preservative however it may cause digestive upset and nausea.
Silicon dioxide: This is the main compound in sand and rocks. It will not be absorbed and is therefore, less of a concern.
Parabens, Benzoates, Sorbates, Sulfites: These synthetic preservatives are used to prolong the shelf life of supplements, yet can cause harm. Beware of these additives as there are concerns of hypersensitivity, allergy, asthma, hyperactivity, neurological damage and cancer.
Gelatin: Supplement lines with products using gelatin capsules are likely cutting corners in other areas of quality control, and their use of gelatin is a good tell.
People who buy supplements are often a more health-conscious subset of the population; this includes a significant proportion of vegetarians and vegans. Given that this group does not consume animal products, they would not purchase a supplement with gelatin, which is made from the skin, bones and connective tissues of animals. Supplement companies that are comprised of knowledgeable, quality focused people, and who produce top of the line supplements, gear their products to suit the vegan and vegetarian population, since they make up a large proportion of their clients. Therefore, they would never use gelatin capsules in their products. The exception to this is fish oil or other animal derived supplements as they already contain animal products.