Read Your Labels: Top 13 Things to Avoid in A Supplement

Reading nutrition labels when shopping for cosmetics, personal care products and food items is something we have become quite accustomed to… but what about supplements? Most of us have jumped on board with the idea that we need to take supplements to improve our health, but do we really know what we are buying?

With over 29,000 nutritional supplements on the market these days, choosing the right ones has become increasingly difficult. The truth is not all supplements are created equal. Just as there are varying grades of meat and varying quality in canned and boxed foods, there is a wide range of quality in supplements. In fact, some supplements may even be harmful to the body rather than beneficial. Reading labels and understanding a bit about how supplements are made is key.

In the market for a nutritional supplement? Don’t assume that by popping a healthy pill, you’re automatically doing your body good. Take a moment to browse through this list of things to watch out for when reading those labels…

TCM Take Away: Finding the right supplement brand is not easy, but great ones do in fact exist. A few of our favorites ones include Premier Research Labs, Dragon Herbs, and Pure Encapsulations.

Top 13 Things to Avoid in Supplements


Tablets are made using high pressure and heat to compress the ingredients. This manufacturing process damages the nutrients of the supplement, greatly lowering its health benefits. Toxic glues and flowing agents are then applied, which may pose health risks to the consumer long-term. In addition, tablets are extremely hard to break down and digest, making them barely therapeutic.


Vegans beware: Gelatin is made from animal by-products. These include animal tendons, skin and boiled bones. Some of the animals where these by-products come from are horses, cows, fish and pigs. Most gelatin capsules have been colored with artificial dyes as well. Artificial dyes (colors) have been shown in research to cause poor concentration and anxiety.

Magnesium Stearate

Magnesium stearate is an inexpensive lubricating agent used in production. Research shows it may be immune compromising, suppressing T-cell functioning. It may also be a potential allergen and slow the absorption of nutrients.

Silicon Dioxide

Silicon dioxide is a cheap flowing and anti-caking agent. It is also known as common sand.

Natural Flavors

Natural flavors is a term that can legally contain natural occurring “glutamate” bi-products such as MSG (monosodium glutamate). MSG is a well-known neurotoxin that overexcites your cells to the point of severe damage or death. Excitotoxins can cause nerve disorders resulting in a myriad of diseases from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, to migraines, fatigue and depression.

Corn Starch

Corn starch is almost always derived from GMO (genetically modified) corn. It may invoke allergic responses.

Stearic Acid

Stearic acid is primarily derived from the rendered fat of farm and domestic animals. It may suppress the immune system by suppressing T-cell functioning.

Titanium Dioxide

Titanium dioxide has been classified as a possible carcinogen to humans. It has the potential to cause cell damage, genotoxicity, inflammation and a weakened immune response.

Artifical Colors (Yellow 6 Lake, Red 40 Lake)

Artificial colors are now known through research to exacerbate hyperactivity and lack of focus, including conditions such as ADD and ADHD.

Hydrogenated Palm Oil

The process of hydrogenating an oil turns the oil into a trans-fatty acid. This process damages the fats, causing them to become rancid. Trans fats act as free radicals in the body, damaging cells, leading to heart disease, cancer and weight gain.


BHT (butylated hydroxyanisole) has been shown to be toxic to the liver, thyroid, kidney, lungs, and may affect blood coagulation. BHT has also shown to promote tumor growth.


Talc, also known as magnesium silicate, is an anti-caking agent. It has the potential to be a carcinogen.


Maltodextrin is a starch sweetener that is most always made from GMO (genetically modified) corn.

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