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There are 323 approved EU additives. We dont use any of them.
They are often allergens. They can reduce the effectiveness of your supplements. And the more there are, the more complex reactions may be.
Additives ensure a consistent look. They add bulk. They ensure machinery runs very quickly. But they don’t do anything for your health and vitality.
Working with a UK manufacturer with over 30 years experience, (working to GMP - Good Manufacturing Practice standards), we insist on 100% pure and natural. With innovative research and development, and a genuine passion for health, it is absolutely possible to manufacture "additive free, naturally!"
IF products genuinely need a carrier to make it through the machinery, we use for example wild rosehips or brown rice powder - truly natural and healthy!
We don't think so! Let's take magnesium stearate, usually described as a "natural". This is one of the most widely used additives. It is made by hydrogenating plant and animal fats - definitely not natural nor healthy. There are many additives like this that are listed as natural, but in fact have been very heavily processed. You can read more on the natural issue here.
The more additives, the greater the reactions that may take place in the body. In the study "The influence of additives on the presentation of a drug in hard gelatin capsule", it was found that large changes in response occured by the addition of a third factor (3).
It is not uncommon to see multiple additives. Whilst the better brands may only use one or two, you can often see 10 - 20 additives in a single product (especially in tablet form). We can only ask the question, WHY?
The additives and excipients used are not bio-available and most are potential allergens, in particular in sensitive individuals and those with a compromised digestive system. (4) Some research even shows that certain additives may be immunosuppressive in some individuals (5). You will find a list of some of the most commonly used additives at the bottom of the page.
Additives can interfere with absorption and much of the nutritional value may never even reach your system. In the most famous study of its kind, published in Pharmaceutical Technology, the dissolution of capsules without stearates was 90% after 20 minutes compared to 25% with stearates. (1). In another study Lee et al also found increasing the concentration of magnesium stearate decreased the dissolution rates (2).
First and foremost - profit. Additives ensure the quickest manufacturing runs. They are cheap to buy. And the supply chain is relevant in many cases - lets not forget pharmaceutical companies own many supplement brands. It makes commercial sense to use the same ingredients across all their brands.
Shelf life - some additives serve to increase this, but do customers really need a three year shelf life?
The "look" - although we dont understand why we need all the crazy colours?
And finally, perhaps some of these big multi-million companies just dont care?
(That would be an unfair accusation to level at some of the small, dedicated companies who are passionate about what they do, and keep additives to the absolute minimum).
Aspartame - absolutely no place in the food chain or supplements considering its neuro toxic effects. Accounts for 75% of all adverse effect reporting in America.
Calcium Stearate - used as a stabilizer for plastics, in cosmetics and supplements. Also used in lacquers, coatings & inks, and as an additive in concrete, textiles and paper. May cause gastrointestinal irritation. Recommendations if it comes into contact with skin - "flush skin with plenty of soap and water for at least 15 minutes while removing contaminated clothing and shoes"
Carnauba Wax - obtained from palm leaves - highly refined then bleached. Used as an anticaking and coating agent.
Dicalcium Phosphate Dihydrate - widely used in supplements "may be safely consumed in moderate amounts. Ingestion of large quantities may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps"
Glyceryl monostearate - an emulsifier also used in shampoos
Indigo (E132) - A blue synthetic coal tar dye, normally produced by a synthesis of indoxyl by fusion of sodium phenylglycinate in a mixture of caustic soda.
Magnesium Stearate - (the magnesium salt of stearic acid), hydrogenated fat used as a lubricant in manufacturing, generally derived from plant sources, but pork is also used. The molecular structure is substantially altered. As much as 5% of many supplements consists of magnesium stearate.
Maltitol - a sugar alcohol made by hydrogenating maltose from corn syrup.
Microcrystalline Cellulose - (E460) a binding agent and excipient, starts off as a natural wood pulp, but is subjected to considerable processing to create a free flowing product.
Propylene Glycol - a solvent also used in antifreeze and paints and many cosmetic products. Regarded as a "safe" food additive, but excessive exposure is thought to cause metabolic problems. It’s use in large volumes in children is very much discouraged: PG has been associated with cardiovascular, hepatic, respiratory and CNS adverse events, especially in neonates where the biological half-life is prolonged (~17h) compared with adults (5h). PG also has a laxative action at high oral doses through high osmotic pressure effects.
Polysorbate 80 an emulsifier also used as a food additive, derived from polyoxylated sorbitol and oleic acid, known to be a contact allergen.
Polyvinylpyrrolidone (E1201) PVP - a polymeric material used as coating agent also used in inks, hair products, pesticides, paints and toothpaste.
Sorbitol - a sweetener and thickening agent, found naturally in fruits, but highly processed.
Sodium Benzoate - a preservative shown to have toxic effects in numerous studies, including non-immunological contact reactions in young children such as urticaria and atopic dermatitis. Coca-Cola removed this from their drinks in 2008, yet still found in some "health" supplements.
Sunset Yellow (E110) colouring linked to behaviour problems in children.
Talc - some will argue talcum powder is a natural substance (magnesium silicate hydroxide) and indeed it has been shown to have some therapeutic value. For example Chinese Medicine considers it has some value for the kidneys (as a short term treatment). In the West, it can be used as an injection to treat fluid build up around the lungs (with noted side effects). But, and these are big buts, the grade and type of talc can vary tremendously - no standardization exists for talc production, and there have been many issues with contaminating agents. It has been noted for an ability to provoke an inflammatory response, and talc deposition in various organs has been observed. There have been some links with ovarian cancer, but it must be emphasised these are tenuous. But make no mistake, talc in supplements is there for free flow and definitely not for any potential therapeutic value, and there are far too many questions for us about potential long term risks.
Titanium Dioxide (E171) - also known as titanium (IV) oxide or titania - colourant, although generally considered safe, but the International Agency for Research on Cancer believes that it may be a possible carcinogen to humans.