supplement additives to avoid
Men's Health

43 Supplement Additives to Avoid For Men’s Health

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Nutritional supplements often contain additives that only do not contribute to the health benefits of the product, but can be harmful to your health as well. Here is a list of 43 supplement additives to avoid when shopping. GRAS means “Generally Recognized as Safe”.

Acesulfame potassium (K): artificial sweetener.

Beeswax: derived from honeycomb and then sterilized. Used for flavoring and to coat tablets. Considered safe but should be avoided by anyone who has bee allergies

Benzyl alcohol: an antimicrobial preservative. On the FDA’s inactive ingredient list. Adverse reactions to benzyl alcohol in medications have been noted.

Calcium disodium EDTA: used as a preservative and safe when used as such. Can cause side effects when used in extremely high amounts (>3 grams daily)

Calcium hydroxide: obtained from limestone. GRAS. High amounts can shift acid-base balance, but is unlikely from supplement use.

Calcium sulfate: guards against excess moisture, used as a filler in capsules.  GRAS

Cellulose microcrystalline: derived from a plant source, typically high-quality wood pulp. Used as a binder and to help tablets disintegrate. GRAS

Cellulose, powdered: derived from a plant source. Used as a stabilizer, thickener, and binder. GRAS

Citric acid: preservative and flavoring agent. GRAS. A small percentage of people have citric acid intolerance or allergy

Croscarmellose sodium: derived from plant fibers. A filler and disintegrant. GRAS. There are unsubstantiated claims that this substance promotes harmful bacteria in the gut.

Dextrin (also called modified food starch): produced from starch. Used as a stabilizer and binder. GRAS. Possible allergic reaction from people sensitive to corn.

Dextrose: sweetener.

Ethocel 20: plant source. Used to coat tablets. GRAS

Ethylcellulose: plant source. Used as a stabilizer, to mask taste. GRAS

FD&C Yellow No 6: although acceptable to the FDA, the Centers for Science in the Public Interest lists this food coloring as “best to avoid”

FD&C Red No 40: same as Yellow No. 6.

Fructose: sweetener.

Gelatin: derived from animal protein. Used to form capsules and soft gels. Widely used in foods and considered safe

Glycerin: occurs naturally in fats and oils. Used as a preservative and sweetener. GRAS. Rarely causes irritation to mucous membranes

Glyceryl triacetate: derived from fatty acids. Provides moisture, flavor. GRAS

Guar gum: derived from the seed kernel of the guar plant. Used as a binder. GRAS. Possible allergic reactions

Gum arabic: from the acacia tree. Used as thickener and stabilizer. GRAS, but allergic reactions to acacia is possible.

Lecithin: generally derived from soybeans. An emulsifier. GRAS. May even be beneficial

Malic acid: flavoring agent. GRAS. Loose stools have been reported at high doses, but unlikely from taking supplements.

Maltodextrin: sugar derived from cornstarch. Used as a thickener, stabilizer, sweetener. GRAS. Possible allergic reaction among people sensitive to corn

Maltol, natural: derived from pine needles or chicory. Used as a flavor enhancer. GRAS

Polydextrose: sweetener.

Polyethylene glycol: Enhances flow. GRAS. In higher amounts, used as a laxative to treat constipation.

Polysorbate 80: stabilizer. Shown in scientific research to cause severe nonimmunologic anaphylactoid reactions.

Polyvinylpyrrolidone (Povidone): used as a stabilizer, thickener. On the FDA inactive ingredient list.

Potassium sorbate: antimicrobial preservative. GRAS

Propylene glycol: a binder considered safe by the pharmaceutical industry, but excessive exposure causes kidney, heart, and nervous system damage

Shellac: purified resin. Used as coloring, to enhance flow. GRAS

Silica: prevents stickiness. GRAS. Unsubstantiated claims that excessive amounts can cause allergic reactions

Silicon dioxide: naturally occurring form of silica. Used to prevent stickiness, flavor, emulsifier. GRAS. Unsubstantiated claims that excessive amounts can cause allergic reactions

Sodium benzoate: an antimicrobial preservative. GRAS, although may cause an allergic reaction.

Sodium carboxymethylcellulose: derived from plants. Used as a binder, thickener, stabilizer. Widely used in foods.

Sodium lauryl sulfate: a salt derived from fatty acids. Used as an emulsifier. GRAS

Sucralose: artificial sweetener. GRAS, but avoid

Talc: naturally occurring magnesium silicate. Used as a filler. Talc has been shown to accumulate in bodily tissues and has been linked with pulmonary complaints.

Titanium dioxide: titanium combined with oxygen. Used for coloring and to reduce stickiness. Found in confectionaries

Xanthan gum: a polysaccharide produced through fermentation of a carbohydrate. Used as a stabilizer, emulsifier. GRAS. Possible allergic reaction for those intolerant to corn

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