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Are Your Supplements Toxic?


According to the CDC, nearly 90 percent of adults are nutritionally deficient. Basically, this means that most Americans are not eating the 5 or more servings of vegetables and fruits that are recommended daily. Add to this the environmental toxins from the air we breathe, the water we drink, and processed foods, and you have the “perfect storm” for chronic disease. In fact, statistics indicate 70 percent of adults have some form of chronic disease requiring treatment. Many of these individuals end up with chronic disease due to poor lifestyle behaviors and choices over many years, plus poor dietary intake with excess empty calories, excess starch, and too much sugar in the diet.

Almost 80 percent of adults currently take some form of vitamin or mineral supplement daily. But do you really know what you are taking? Is it a pharmaceutical-grade, professional product that has been manufactured under GMP (good manufacturing practices) in a state-of-the-art facility with independent third-party testing for validation of its purity and potency? Is it free of contaminants like heavy metals, fungicides, herbicides, or mold? Or, are your vitamins contributing to your ill health and putting you at risk of future disease?

Toxic Ingredients or Dangerous Substances to Watch Out for in Your Nutritional Supplements

Here is a listing of the worst or most dangerous ingredients or substances to watch out for in your dietary supplements:

  • Artificial colors – these are synthetic or artificially made food colorings that can be especially dangerous for children. They have been linked to behavioral changes, hyperactivity, and inattention in children. The artificial colors to watch out for are FD&C Blue No.1, FD&C Blue No. 2, FD&C Green No.3, FD&C Red No. 3, FD&C Red No. 40, FD&C Yellow No. 5, FD&C Yellow No. 6.
  • Hydrogenated oils – some supplement manufacturers will cut costs by adding hydrogenated soybean oil as a filler. Hydrogenation is a process in which a liquid unsaturated fat is turned into a solid fat by adding hydrogen. This produces the dreaded harmful fat called trans fat, which increases LDL (low-density lipoprotein), decreases HDL (high-density lipoprotein or “good cholesterol”), and increases the risk for cardiovascular disease.
  • Lead, mercury, and PCB’s – If the supplement manufacturing facility is not FDA registered or does not follow GMP (good manufacturing) standards, there is a possibility that some supplements like turmeric, ashwagandha, echinacea, and green tea contain lead. Sometimes lead is introduced into supplements by its use as a colorant (for example, lead chromate added to make turmeric have a more robust yellow color). Also, industrial waste includes mercury and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), which can pollute our oceans and seas and may affect large fish such as salmon and tuna. Because of this, it is recommended to make sure your fish oil supplements (omega-3 fish oils) are molecularly distilled, come from cold waters, and are third-party tested to ensure their safety and quality.
  • Titanium dioxide – this ingredient is added to some lower quality or substandard nutritional supplements as a filler and to whiten products. It has no nutrient value and has been linked to allergies, stomach cancers, and autoimmune disorders.

And Now For The Rest Of The Story

  • Consumers take a real risk if they use dietary supplements not independently verified by reputable outside labs.
  • Heavy metal contamination is known to cause cancer, dementias, and brittle bones, to name a few.
  • In June 2019, the FDA seized 300,000 supplement bottles because pills contained excessive lead levels.
  • Bacterial and fungal contamination is not uncommon. These are linked to liver, intestinal, and esophageal damage.
  • Sometimes the herb you think you are buying contains little to no active ingredients. Occasionally, another herb is substituted.
  • In an assessment of CBD products, only 25% of liquid tinctures and 45% of oils contained the promised amount of CBD on the label. A few CBD products had enough THC to put the user in legal jeopardy of marijuana possession (CBD must contain less than 0.3% THC by dry weight to be federally legal as an over-the-counter non-prescription product).
  • A New York Attorney General’s office investigation of dietary supplements at big-box chain pharmacies, including CVS pharmacies, suggested wide-spread fraudulent under-dosing of active ingredients with about 100 products failing standards resulting in the removal of the products from the CVS Pharmacy shelves.
  • Consumers can do their homework and go to one of three highly regarded independent laboratories to verify nutritional supplement quality. These include U.S. Pharmacopeia, NSF International, and ConsumerLabs.com.

Pharmaceutical-Grade Quality Matters

Because not all supplements are created equal, the products you are consuming might have toxic chemicals and unnecessary or substandard ingredients. Some companies seek out the least expensive raw materials at the cost of quality, purity, and potency.

Look for manufacturers that use the highest quality ingredients that are tested for purity and potency by certified labs multiple times during the manufacturing process. Herbal extracts and natural products should also be standardized to provide consistent levels of their primary active compounds.

It is important to consult with healthcare professionals who recommend only the highest quality third-party validated nutritional supplements and vitamins, to ensure that you are taking in only the best the industry has to offer to optimize your health. In addition, healthcare professionals understand your medical history, evaluate your prescription medications, and recommend safe and effective supplements based upon your specific, individual needs.

A Summary of Vitamins and Nutritional Supplements

Vitamin and supplements are typically used to improve an individual’s diet and provide nutrients they may not get from their foods. In other words, the supplements provide the nutrient gaps that are missing with the standard American diet (SAD diet). Most Americans need to be taking nutritional supplements because their daily diet is lacking horribly in essential vitamins and minerals. It is crucial to work with knowledgeable healthcare providers who have experience with supplements, so they may guide you in your supplement choices. Just because something is natural does not mean it is safe, especially in combination with other things, so it is not recommended to blindly begin a supplement .  Some supplements may interfere with prescription drugs or other supplements or could have side-effects, so it is wise to consult your physician or another qualified professional before starting any new nutritional supplement or dietary regimen.

About Dr. Stan Headley

Stan Headley graduated with a Doctor of Medicine in 1991 from Spartan Health Sciences University. Dr. Stan continues to update his knowledge by attending continuing education conferences as a member of the American Naturopathic Medical Association, the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, and the Age Management Medicine Group. As a Natural Health Consultant, his entire focus is on getting to the underlying root cause of your symptoms and helping you to determine why you are not well or at risk of chronic disease. He does not diagnose or treat but educates patients on how to make the necessary lifestyle and behavioral changes that will lead to the long-term goal of preventing illness and promoting optimal health.

One thought on “Are Your Supplements Toxic?

  1. Pingback: Do You Know Your Vitamin ABCs? - Wellness Solutions Blog

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