As you have read so far, the supplements we are consuming are full of fillers and sugars. There are other hidden dangers within these capsules, tablets, liquids, and even powders: DYES.
According to the FDA, in 2007 Americans were consuming five times more artificial food colorings than they were in 1955. That number in no way has decreased in the mast eight years. http://www.organicauthority.com/blog/organic/banned-in-europe-food-coloring-linked-to-behavior-problems/
Artificial colors are being added to our vitamins, supplements, and medicines (as well as our foods, skin products, bath products, etc.) at an alarming rate. Somehow the rate is increasing even though studies are linking these dyes to everything from cancer to hyperactivity in children. The risks can be deadly, and the benefits: a more appealing product to draw consumers in, to make a sale.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of these dyes, even as they are band in other countries across the world due to their significant side effects. Countries throughout Europe have banned against food dyes and insisted on strong labeling with warnings including all health risks to these dyes. But yet, here in the United States we not only promote the use of dyes, but they are included as ingredients within our health-boosting supplementation and medications.
The seven FDA approved food dyes include: http://www.fda.gov/ForIndustry/ColorAdditives/
- FD&C Blue No. 1 – Brilliant Blue FCF, E133
- FD&C Blue No. 2 – Indigotine E132
- FD&C Green No. 3 – Fast Green FCF, E143
- FD&C Red No. 40 – Allura Red AC, E129
- FD&C Red No. 3 – Erythrosine, E127
- FD&C Yellow No. 5 – Tartrazine, E102
- FD&C Yellow No. 6 – Sunset Yellow FCF, E110
Some of these artificial colors (Yellow Dye 5 & 6) are derived from toxic coal tar. Coal tar is a mixture of many chemicals, derived from petroleum. It is recognized as a human carcinogen, with the main concern of using it for individual colors (whether produced from the coal tar or synthetically) is the potential to cause cancer. These colors may also be contaminated with low levels of heavy metals and even be combined with aluminum substrate. Aluminum compounds and many heavy metals are toxic to the brain. Coal tar is used for purposes such as: roofing, outdoor sealants, exterior paints, and heating. This should obviously NOT be ingested. http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/health/science/toxics/chemicals-in-your-cosmetics—coal-tar-dyes/
Current research is working towards providing the direct link from synthetic supplements and artificial dyes to autism, sleep disturbances and other chronic problems in children. Previous studies show links to artificial dyes and cancer, hyperactivity, ADHD, allergies, and sterility. http://melisann.hubpages.com/hub/Know-Which-of-Your-Vitamins-and-Medicines-Contain-Toxins
This research is eye opening, even for myself. I have a four year old son with sensory processing disorder, food allergies, food sensitivities, speech delays, and sleep troubles. We were told by wonderful natural-minded pediatric doctors and chiropractors to keep toxins away from him. This meant vaccines, chemicals, processed foods, etc. We learned of a wonderful diet that removed all dyes, fillers, and chemicals from the body to heal the gut. We have had great success on this diet, but hadn’t looked into the hidden details of his supplements (or ours!). While we have been making smart supplement decisions, there were a few with hidden dyes that have since been eliminated. I know that it sounds extreme to most people, but I am telling you from our personal four year journey that what you put into your body makes a world of difference.
Common ailments linked to these dyes include headaches, mood response, hyperactivity, skin rash, and swollen gut, trouble falling asleep, or breathing problems. An actual allergy to dyes may be difficult to diagnose. However, if removing dyes from the diet is linked to absence of symptoms, this may prove dye sensitivity. Allergy testing for dyes is not conclusive, but an IgG antibody test can be part of your investigation. (We had IgG testing done as early as 15 months of age with our son.)
Each dye can be traced to its own set of possible side effects: http://www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm
Blue Dye No. 1 can cause hyperactivity, skin rashes, bronchoconstriction – especially when combined with other artificial colors- and chromosomal damage. It may also cause issues with the gastrointestinal tract while inhibiting cell respiration and lead to ADHD, asthma, and other allergic reactions. (This dye is banned in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Norway Switzerland, and Sweden.) New studies show that Blue Dye is also absorbed through the skin. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23127598
Blue Dye No. 2 is a synthetic coal tar dye commonly added to pharmaceutical drugs and is also used as a medical diagnostic aid. The dye, which is banned in Norway, has been known to cause nausea, vomiting, high blood pressure, skin rashes, breathing problems, brain tumors and other allergic reactions.
Green Dye No. 3 is linked to tumors and gene mutations in test animals.
Red Dye No. 40 is a petroleum byproduct often used in medications and supplements that can cause allergy-like reactions, hyperactivity in children and potential cancer. Asthmatics and those intolerant to aspirin are at increased risk of a reaction to this dye, which is prohibited throughout Europe. http://www.npr.org/2011/03/30/134962888/fda-probes-link-between-food-dyes-kids-behavior
Red Dye No. 3 has been shown to cause cancer in lab animals.
Yellow Dye No. 5 is one of the most dangerous artificial colors. Derived from Coal Tar, the dye is linked to cancer and provokes asthma attacks, skin reactions, and hyperactivity in children. It has been banned in Norway, Austria, and Finland.
Yellow Dye No. 6 is linked to hyperactivity, allergic reactions, nausea, and nasal congestion. It is often used in medications and supplements Yellow Dye #6 is banned in Finland, Norway, and the UK.
Unfortunately, these reactions and their connections to artificial food dyes have largely been dismissed by the FDA. In 2004, an analysis of fifteen studies found evidence that artificial colors worsen the behavior of children with ADHD. Even after studies found that artificial dyes affect the behavior of children without behavioral disorders, the FDA continues to deny any significant link between food dyes and behavioral problems.
By eliminating food dyes and food additives, studies have continuously shown increased improvements in children’s behavior.
The FDA has approved a number of natural dyes for use in products. These dyes include:
- Beet Juice
- Grape Skin Extract
- Paprika Oleoresin
- Fruit and Vegetable Juices
Some natural dyes can still cause adverse reactions to those with sensitivities. My son, for example, reacts to annatto extract. Annatto, caramel, and cochineal extract (known as carmine) have all been traced to allergic reactions.
A partial list of popular vitamins with toxic dyes: http://www.vaclib.org/docs/ToxicDyesVitamins.doc
- One A Day – Red #40
- One A day for Women – Mixed Berry’s – Blue #1 Yellow #5, Yellow #6 and Red #40
- One A Day Scooby Doo – Blue #2, Yellow #6 and Red #40
- Flintstones (Children’s Vitamin) – Blue #1, Blue #2, Yellow #6, Red #40 and Aspartame Toxic Sweetener
- Centrum & Centrum Silver – Yellow #6 and Red #40
- Geritol – Blue #2, Yellow #6 and Red #40
- Prenatal from Nature’s Bounty – Blue #1, Yellow #6 and Red #40
- Tums – Blue #1, Yellow #5, Yellow #6 and Red #40
In a time where our food quality is not where it should be, health is declining faster than it should, and people are deficient in vitamins and minerals, supplements are on the rise. We should be thankful that there are supplemental options to help our bodies meet their needs; however, so many of these supplements are causing more harm than good. It’s time to learn what is in our supplements. There will be four articles total on the subject – Fillers, Dyes, Sugars, and How to Choose – as it is an overwhelming amount of information to put out at once.
The truth: The supplements lining our store shelves are full of contaminants, substitutes, and fillers. We are being sold (mostly) lies.
A study performed in 2013 (SOURCE) looked at 44 supplemental products by 12 companies and broke down the labels compared to actual ingredients. The results speak for themselves, all but 2 products contained fillers, contaminants, and ingredients not listed on their labels.
The entire process of manufacturing, distributing, and marketing supplements is subject to a completely different set of rules than for drugs. These products may sit on pharmacy shelves, side-by-side with bottles of Tylenol, but they are held to significantly lower safety and efficacy standards. This is a very scary thought, as the safety of Tylenol is truly questionable as we learn more about it.
Supplements are fundamentally different from pharmaceutical grade medicine. Pharmaceutical grade medicines are powerful chemicals that can overpower your body chemistry, or kill pathogenic organisms. And while sometimes they are necessary, they can be deadly when used improperly. Good supplements, instead, allow your body to maximize its natural abilities or provide support to your body’s systems. Supplemental effectiveness, however, cannot override bad lifestyle choices, such as diet, sedentariness, or lack of sleep. Conversely, supplements’ effects are compounded when used in tandem with proper diet, exercise and rest. That being said, you still have to be sure that what you are buying is what you are getting.
Supplement manufacturers often add in a variety of fillers to their vitamin and mineral supplements for numerous reasons:
- Easier and faster production
- More appealing to the eye(colorants)
- 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.
In February 2015, four of the largest retail stores (GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart) were accused of fraudulently selling herbal products that in many cases were contaminated or did not contain any of the herb listed on the label. Among the attorney general’s findings was a popular store brand of ginseng pills at Walgreens, promoted for “physical endurance and vitality,” that contained only powdered garlic and rice. At Walmart, the authorities found that its ginkgo biloba, a Chinese plant promoted as a memory enhancer, contained little more than powdered radish, houseplants and wheat — despite a claim on the label that the product was wheat- and gluten-free.
GNC (Herbal Plus brand): http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/03/sidebar-whats-in-those-supplements/
- Gingko biloba: No actual Gingko biloba found, detected garlic, rice, spruce, asparagus
- John’s wort: None found, detected garlic, rice, and dracaena (a houseplant)
- Ginseng: None found, detected rice, dracaena, pine, wheat, grass and citrus
- Echinacea: None found, detected rice
- Saw palmetto: One sample had the product
- Garlic: Contained garlic
Target (Up and Up brand)
- Gingko biloba: No actual Gingko biloba found, detected rice, garlic and mung bean
- John’s wort: None found, detected garlic, rice and dracaena
- Garlic: Contained garlic! (one test detected no product)
- Echinacea: Found in most samples
- Saw palmetto: Found in most but not all samples
- Valerian: None detected, found allium, bean, asparagus, pea family, rice, wild carrot and saw palmetto
Walgreens (Finest Nutrition brand)
- Gingko biloba: No actual Gingko biloba found, detected rice
- John’s wort: None found, detected garlic, rice and dracaena
- Ginseng: None found, detected garlic and rice
- Garlic: None found, detected palm, dracaena, wheat and rice
- Echinacea: None found, detected garlic, rice and daisy
- Saw palmetto: contained saw palmetto!
Walmart (Spring Valley brand)
- Gingko biloba: No actual Gingko biloba found, detected rice, dracaena, mustard, wheat, radish
- John’s wort: None found, detected garlic, rice and cassava
- Ginseng: None found, detected rice, dracaena, pine, wheat/grass and citrus
- Garlic: One sample had product
- Echinacea: None found in supplement
- Saw palmetto: Some samples contained small amounts. Also found garlic and rice
This is just scratching the surface. Think of the vitamins and other herbal supplements behind your cabinet doors. The ones you take religiously, or have your family members take daily. Chances are, unless you have done your research, that you are swallowing your money along with that rice-filled capsule.
Supplement companies are trying to validate their products by stating “these contaminants are actually acceptable fillers.” Another problem, studies are showing that there is little consistency from one capsule, tablet, or scoop to another. https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/searching-for-the-supplement-in-your-supplement/
Not only are we being lied to, and throwing our money away, but for some people this crosses the line to dangerous. Those with allergies (like soy, or even plants) or are strictly gluten-free may have severe reactions to fraudulent supplements.
Many of the fillers found in the most common supplements: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/07/24/pharmaceutical-drugs-vs-nutritional-supplements.aspx
- Corn Starch
- Steric Acid
- Hydrogenated Oils: The most used filler being partially hydrogenated soybean oil, which encourages heart problems, strokes, nervous system problems, block the absorption of essential fatty acids, upset blood sugar regulation and more.
- Talc: a cheap filler and anti-caking agent
- Magnesium Silicate: Magnesium silicate is similar in composition to asbestos and can cause lung problems when inhaled
- Magnesium Stearate: a lubricant so that the vitamins don’t stick to one another. It may create a suppressed immune system and some studies show that this ‘chalk’ will create a biofilm in the body that can keep the body from absorbing any of the needed nutrients.
We can also add GMO/ and pesticides to the list as the above fillers are not organic and most come sprayed with pesticides and herbicides.
A note: Do research on the companies whose supplements you buy. Ask companies about their methods or where they source their ingredients. Ask for independent lab results verifying the contents of their supplements. Many will be happy to provide you that information, because they stand by their products. If they are reticent to provide that information, look elsewhere for your supplements.