Recently a client of mine brought in supplements that she had purchased at a big box store and was horrified to find that not only was the list of non-medicinal ingredients was very long it was also full of useless fillers, like potato starch and maltodextrin. This is quite common and one of the big differentiating factors between cheaper big box brands and the brands that you would find in a health store.
Maltodextrin is food additive produced from starch; it has sweetness to it and is digested as fast as glucose…..that’s sugar! Pure glucose has a glycemic index of 100 and maltodextrin isn’t far behind at 85.
Other fillers that can be found in cheaper supplements include sodium lauryl sulfate, this is a foaming agent that is found in the chemical based shampoos and soaps. It is a known carcinogen and can also have negative effects on the nervous system. This foaming agent is also quite harmful to the environment as it doesn’t break down easily and can remain in the environment long after its rinsed from your hair, so one can only imagine how long it might hang out inside your body once it’s ingested. It is also know to irritate skin, eyes and the respiratory tract.
The number of non medicinal ingredients in health supplements should be minimal, and good quality products will contain useful ingredients that will help the body absorb the product increasing its bioavailability. Croscarmellose sodium is a compound that helps tablets break down once in the intestinal tract, if tablets break down too slowly it compromises the bioavailability of the product.
Although the amount of harmful ingredients is quite minimal you can’t forget that it’s something you are exposing yourself to on a daily basis for a prolonged period of time and you need to ask yourself what studies have been done on the accumulative effects of these known harmful chemicals. In a society where our chemical body burden is already so great it would be wise to do our part but making informed decisions to limit our exposure whenever possible and not turn a blind eye to the possible detrimental effects of cheap binders and fillers.
Taking supplements is a really good idea as so much is missing from our food, and at times taking supplements is vital for achieving and maintaining good health but it’s important to make informed decisions about what you are putting in your body.