Written by Katrina Pascual
Do your vitamins and supplements contain this potentially harmful ingredient?
Americans consume large amounts of processed and junk foods that may be convenient but lack nutrients, but these foods lack essential vitamins and minerals and can increase your risk of nutrient deficiencies.
By taking a dietary supplement like a multivitamin, you can acquire the essential nutrients that you fail to get from your diet.
But in order to get the best value for your money, you must make sure that the supplement you’re taking is safe and effective. Beware, because many supplements today are actually loaded with harmful additives and ingredients.
Many drugs, vitamins and supplements use additives, preservatives and other chemicals to make them usable. Manufacturers use them in large quantities to encapsulate and hold the active ingredients in the supplement together.
Flow agents are one example of an additive that US supplement manufacturers use in their products. Their main purpose is to prevent ingredients from sticking to the equipment during mixing and compression. Flow agents make manufacturing faster and easier, and help the manufacturers save money. However, they do not offer any health benefits.
Unfortunately, some of these cheap additives, like magnesium stearate, may be dangerous.
What is magnesium stearate?
Magnesium stearate is a commonly used, but potentially harmful additive found in many supplements. This compound is formed when a magnesium ion is added to stearic acid. Magnesium stearate has lubricating properties that allow machinery to run smoother and faster, preventing pills and capsules from sticking to each other.
But while it is useful in supplement manufacturing, magnesium stearate may actually wreak havoc on your health. Research has shown that stearic acid can suppress T cells, your natural killer cells that are an essential component of your immune system. This ingredient causes your cell membrane to collapse, which can ultimately destroy cell function.
What’s more, stearate is commonly acquired from hydrogenated oils like cottonseed oil, which is often genetically engineered and tends to contain very high levels of pesticide residues.
A December 2011 report by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that several batches of magnesium stearate manufactured by Ferro Corporation contained harmful contaminants like:
• Bisphenol-A (BPA), a potent endocrine disrupter
• Calcium hydroxide (slaked lime), which is considered toxic by the National Institutes of Health
• Irganox 1010, a “moderately hazardous” chemical classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)to have potential developmental toxicity
The cross-contamination was caused by improper cleaning of the air milling equipment that was installed in the Ohio Ferro plant. Although this is not a chronic problem, it confirms how easily contamination can occur.
Remember these criteria when buying a supplement:
Supplements like multivitamins are useful for supporting a nutritionally lacking diet, as long as they are made from organic ingredients and produced by a reliable manufacturer who complies with safety standards. Therefore, it is very important to be thorough when selecting one.
So how do you tell if a supplement is really a good choice? Here are some important factors you should look for:
• It is as close as possible to its whole food form.
• It follows industry standards for quality assurance, such as Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP) certifications.
• It uses independent third party labs to check the raw materials for contamination and proper dosage.
• All phases of its production has been done with utmost care, from growing of ingredients to testing for potency and quality control.
• It works—you can actually see and feel the results.
However, remember that supplements cannot fully take the place of wholesome, organic foods in terms of providing you with high-quality nutrients. Always make healthy eating your first priority, along with healthy lifestyle habits like regular exercise, high-quality sleep, and proper stress management.
Be sure to check out all the great healthy and wholesome recipes in The Green Divas Foodie-Philes.
Listen to the latest Green Divas Health & Beauty podcast for more ways to keep your routine healthy…
Katrina Pascual writes for Mercola.com. She is researching dietary supplements, such as superfood supplements and multivitamins, and how they impact lives and change people’s eating habits. However, she believes that consuming a well-balanced, wholesome diet of fresh organic foods is still better than taking supplements.
~Asst. Ed. Green Diva Christine