The same artery-clogging hydrogenated fats and oils (aka trans fats) that we are told to avoid for health reasons are also used as cheap vitamin fillers! That’s just one filler to watch out for, warns Elissa Goodman, a holistic nutritionist in Los Angeles, CA. Another is magnesium Silicate (aka talc), which is used in supplements as a filler and anti-caking agent. (Anti-caking agents prevent lumps and bumps.) “Magnesium silicate is similar to asbestos in composition and can cause stomach and lung problems when inhaled or ingested,” she says. Avoid these risky fillers by reading label. And “if you see any ingredients you’re unfamiliar with, look them up,” Goodman adds. Here are more vitamin myths you need to stop believing.
Nutritionists generally recommend getting the nutrients you need from food instead of supplements, and exposure to dyes is one of the reasons. Just like crayons, vitamins tend to come in an array of rich colors, “but there’s really no legit benefit to having vitamins dyed a specific color, and these dyes have been linked to everything from allergies to behavior problems,” Goodman says. They are only added to offset color loss from exposure to light, air, temperature extremes, moisture, and other conditions, or to enhance the appearance of the vitamin. In just one example of the risks, titanium dioxide, a color additive that makes tablets and capsules bright white, may cause lung, kidney and intestine inflammation, according to Goodman. The American College of Healthcare Sciences in Portland, OR, urges supplement takers to steer clear of these dangerous dyes: 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, and FD&C Yellow No. 6.
“Color in natural foods is good. Color in your supplements—not so much,” adds Boston-based nutritionist Dana Greene, RD.