4 Dangerous (and Common) Vitamin Fillers You Must Avoid

Despite the decline in health today, the supplement industry is a billion dollar a year business (topping in at $6 billion in 2008.) You would think that with so many Americans spending their hard earned money on one type of supplement or another, chronic disease would be on the decline. Sadly, the rate of chronic disease continues to climb each year.

So what’s going on here? Americans are gulping down the vitamins but our health remains in a crisis mode. Some of these vitamins may not be the answer to our health problems and maybe some of these vitamins are actually contributing to our state of declining health.

Do you take a daily vitamin? Are you having your kids take vitamins on a regular basis? Let’s explore a bit more about what we’re really putting into our bodies and learn how to make informed choices so you spend your money on supplements that are actually good for you.

Fillers Found in Vitamins

Before we get into the specific five dangerous vitamin fillers let’s talk about fillers in general with supplements. Supplement manufacturers often add in a variety of fillers to their vitamin and mineral supplements for numerous reasons:

  1. Easier and faster production
  2. More appealing to the eye (colorants)
  3. Easier to swallow (coatings)

The reasons for using fillers aside, the real problem lies in how these fillers impact your body and health. Simply put, it’s not good. Just like processed foods being loaded with additives and fillers, the same goes for vitamins. Any supplement that has additives and fillers will be harmful to your health in the same way those processed foods are.

The body doesn’t need or want these ingredients so don’t put them in there. They also block the absorption of nutrients. Now let’s get to the specific problems with certain dangerous fillers.

Dangerous Filler #1: Hydrogenated Oils

That’s right, hydrogenated oils are added to vitamins. These are the same hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils I’ve told you to avoid in the foods you eat. These are the oils found in many bakery products as well as highly processed, nutritionally devoid foods.

In fact, it’s been found that partially hydrogenated soybean oil is one of the major fillers in the majority of vitamins sold on the market today.

Partially hydrogenated (and hydrogenated) oils damage the body in numerous ways. They encourage heart problems, strokes, nervous system problems, block the absorption of essential fatty acids, upset blood sugar regulation and more.

You don’t want these in your food and it’s certainly not a good idea to have them in your vitamins.

Dangerous Filler #2: Artificial Colors

Artificial colors are being added to vitamins too. Artificial colors have been linked to problems from cancer to hyperactivity in children. These colors are added to vitamins to make them more appealing to the consumer in hopes this will encourage the sale.

Some of these artificial colors are derived from toxic coal tar. Coal tar is used for a variety of purposes some of which are roofing, outdoor sealants, exterior paints, heating…the list goes on but nothing on the list would indicate in any way that you should consume coal tar.

Dangerous Filler #3: Magnesium Stearate

This is one of the most controversial topics in the supplement world today. Many argue that this toxic ingredient shouldn’t be added to vitamins and is of serious health consequence. On the other side some say that it has not been proven by the scientific community to cause serious health problems in humans – yet.

Again, I urge you to remember that many times the science to back what we suspect can lag behind. It’s vital to make your own informed choices. When it comes to magnesium stearate you should know a few facts.

Magnesium stearate is used as a lubricant so that the vitamins don’t stick to one another or the equipment being used. This is the sole reason that magnesium stearate is used in vitamins.

The controversy surrounds a few studies on magnesium stearate. One study links this compound to creating a suppressed immune system. Other studies show that this ‘chalk’ will create a biofilm in the body. This biofilm blocks the body from absorbing any of the needed nutrients.

(This is yet another reason why you should rely on whole food sources for nutrients.)

Dangerous Filler #4: Titanium Dioxide

Titanium oxide is a naturally occurring oxide of the element titanium. This widely used mineral is used in vitamins as a pigment. It is also used for this same reason in many cosmetics.

However the research is now showing that exposure to this metal (along with other metals) can lead to problems with the immune function in the body.

If you’re taking a vitamin to improve your health why would you even consider taking one with such a filler as this (or any of the others?) Clearly this is an unnecessary, unhealthy filler ingredient used by the huge vitamin producers in order to sell more of these low quality vitamins.

Choosing Whole Food Vitamin Supplements

When it comes to supplements there are some that are better than others. Steer away from the mass produced vitamins by huge conglomerates (often owned by pharmaceutical companies) and opt for smaller operations that you learn about first.

Look for a company with a philosophy that reflects their genuine interest in improving the health of the nation. Companies exist, do your homework and find one you trust for all of your supplement needs.

I use Garden of Life products like their Raw Vitamin C and Raw Vitamin D supplements. These supplements are made from real whole foods and will provide the body with a source of nutrients much closer to the ones straight from nature. Your body will recognize and use these nutrients much better than any synthetic ones in the form of these filler laden vitamins.

Read this recent article on multi-vitamins and choosing the right multi-vitamin for you.

Vitamins are No Substitute for a Healthy Diet

There’s no doubt about it no matter how high quality your vitamin or mineral supplement is it’s simply no match for eating straight from nature the way God intended. There’s a reason they are called supplements.

Eating a whole food diet full of fresh, raw, and local foods is the best way to improve health and fight off disease no matter what. There’s no substitute for the original source.

Sources:

Josh Axe

Dr. Josh Axe is on a mission to provide you and your family with the highest quality nutrition tips and healthy recipes in the world...Sign up to get VIP access to his eBooks and valuable weekly health tips for FREE!

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10 comments so far - add yours!

  1. Kip Nickell says:

    I find it backwards logic when an additive must be proven harmful before being removed from foods. One would assume it should be proven not to be harmful before being introduced in the first place.

  2. Karen Tucker says:

    Dr. Axe,
    Really appreciated your article on “4 dangerous vitamin fillers you must avoid.” My problem is that I take several tablets of HCL each day (probably 5) to help with my digestive problems. It really does make a difference and helps me to ward off heartburn. I also take enzymes with each meal. So my question: do you have any suggestions for me in regards to either finding a supplement brand of HCL that does NOT contain magnesium stearate? Or is there something else I can take to help with digestion (apple cider vinegar? etc.).
    thank you so much for you thoughts,
    Karen
    P.S. I have been taking several of the vitamin code GOL supplements and actually had a mini miracle take place–I was selected as the grand prize winner of a recent webinar and was awarded 12 bottles of raw pribiotics. Praise God!!!

  3. Joy Sloan says:

    Dr. Axe,
    I really appreciated this article. I am very careful which vitamin supplements I take. So many people go for price rather than quality.

    I did a brief synopsis of your article on my blog and included a link back to this article so that people can read the complete article and see the additional information references.

    Thank you for all that you provide to help us make better choices.

  4. Excellent article! I know for me personally, almost every vitamin out there gave me a migraine – then I clued in it was the fillers. I love the Garden of Life products, no allergic reactions (ie migraines. fatigue etc) because there are no preservatives, chemicals, additives in them.

    What really gets me going are the Flinstones vitamins (and others like them) that are filled with synthetic colours, chemicals and aspartame of all things!?!

    ~Laila :o)

  5. Doug Lee says:

    Please don’t think me the skunk at the garden party, because I like the Garden of Life products and use their Raw Code multivitamin religiously. However, I was looking at the ingredients for Primal Defense, Berry Greens Perfect Food, FYI Ultra, and Omega-Zyme Ultra on the Store page and they all list magnesium stearate on the labels. I just figured I would mention it. I am struggling to find adequate replacements for several supplements now (many from Now Foods) because of this article, which stinks because supplements cost so much!

    Thanks for the info! I love listening to your show on the web and look forward to getting your cookbook.

    Doug

  6. Malibu says:

    I was so excited to get my first order from Dr. Axe. got the cookbook and three supplements. I was reading over the ingredients on each and was shocked to find magnesium stearate in the Perfect Food Berry. I thought I remembered it being one of the worst additives, so I came back to the site and sure enough it is on the list. I normally don’t leave feedback on anything, but I am, like I said, shocked that you would sell something that contains Dangerous Filler #3. I am very happy with the cookbook (I try to eat as much raw as possible, I have an anti-raw husband so this book will help with compromise meals) and the Women’s vitamin and the raw calcium. Please tell me you will either remove the Perfect Food Berry from your product list or find a replacement with no Magnesium Stearate so I can sing your praises to everyone! :O)

    • Dr. Axe says:

      Malibu,

      This has come up before and I appreciate your concern and applaud your attention to detail, never stop learning and questioning things. Below is the explanation I’ve posted on my “Do Your Supplements Contain Junk” article.

      Garden of Life does not use magensium stearate as an ingredient in their supplement. They use vegetable stearate as a Lubricant on the
      machines they make the products on. It’s like a product putting on their label: is manufactured in the lab as peanuts.

      So really it’s just something they still had to put on the label because it is still used in the same facility.

      I am actually at a seminar right now with Jordan and we are about to do lunch at Whole Foods here. Just so everyone knows
      I am not crazy enough to write an article discrediting the very brand I sell on my website and the very brand I take myself.

      I should have made everyone aware that the magnesium stearate was used on the machines and not IN the supplements.

      Sorry for all the confusion this has caused and thanks for all the feedback!

      Blessings,

      Dr. Axe

  7. Margot says:

    Click here: Jordan Rubin and Garden of Life Ordered to Stop Making Unsubstantiated Advertising Claims

    The above is a LINK if yiu copy & paste it in a mail..

    I was reading your article on Dangerous Fillers
    and noted the Garden of Life you suggested.

    Right now take quite a bit of vitamins and now being diagnosed with extreme Acid Reflux,Gastritis,Esophagitis with Hiatal Hernia being aggrivated by all of the above.

    Please email me any feedback..

    i AM NOW about to dump quite a few Vitamin Bottles looking for a Good Vitamin Source.

    TY
    Margot

    • Margot says:

      Garden of Life does not use magensium stearate as an ingredient in their supplement, PER DR> AXE BUT, was looking at Garden Of Life from Your Site here and noticed
      Probiotic Primal Defense Ultra Garden of Life and it HAS Magnesium Stearate in it.

  8. Patti says:

    Thank you for this ..I have been taking vitamins for years..and I’ve gotten off of asthma and arthritis meds because of them. Now I do try to get more organic wholefood supplements ..good advice. Just a point..I believe another reason there is more illness perhaps because of the processing of even whole non-organic foods..containing pesticides, hormones, steroids? antibiotics etc. I’d like to see more awareness of that. Actually, I believe it’s a really big problem, now GMOs on top of it all that are banned in 30 countries but not here. Thank you.

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