43 Supplement Additives to Avoid For Men’s Health

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