People take multivitamins and dietary supplements for various reasons. Be it to attain a certain fitness goal or to simply fill a nutritional gap lacking from whole foods. Although most think you don't need supplements, having a select few can help you fill in something you're lacking from your diet and improve your overall health. The downside is that reading through the ingredients list to find a good quality supplement can be quite difficult. A lot of ingredients aren't common household ones, so it can be hard to decipher which ones to look out for and avoid.
We specialize in workout supplements, but all types of supplements share common ingredients. One of those is additives, like fillers and binders. Several vitamins and supplements are filled with these unnecessary additives, and unfortunately, some could have potentially dangerous effects when consumed in high amounts. That is why knowing what ingredients to avoid is so important! It'll help you find a better supplement or vitamin for you, and help you avoid the potentially dangerous fillers. Since we know a lot about supplements and the ingredients found in them, we're going to tell why supplement companies use fillers, and which ones to look out for!
Why are fillers used?
Fillers, also known as bulking agents, are used for what it sounds for – to fill or add substance to the supplement. Supplement manufacturers commonly use fillers to increase the size of the capsule or the amount of substance in a container due to the active ingredients being in smaller amounts. Another reason they use them is to reduce manufacturing costs. Bulking agents are cheap and, some companies, in an effort to increase revenue, use these ingredients to reduce the manufacturing cost and make a more affordable end product. However, these ingredients can also help manufactures achieve the desired consistency or texture they want their supplements to have. They work as stabilizers and help reduce the clumping or separating of the ingredients. So, there is some good that comes from these ingredients, in fact, there are fillers that some supplement manufacturers use that are better than the ones we'll be discussing!
Binders and flow agents are two other common additives found in supplements. Binders do as the name suggests, hold the ingredients together. Without them, pills would break apart! They are also used to add weight to the very small amount of active ingredients. Flow agents are also known as anti-caking agents and are used to help make supplements get through the manufacturing process efficiently. They work similarly to fillers in that they help prevent the ingredients from sticking together and clogging the machines being used to manufacture the product.
These additives aren't necessary ingredients because they offer no nutritional value. But they make the manufacturing processes much easier and can even help reduce the cost for supplement manufactures which is why they're so widely used. They may be totally unavoidable, but the list below will help you avoid at least the most dangerous ones found in common vitamins and supplements!
7 food additives to look out for
Before you purchase that bottle of vitamins or tub of supplement powder, read the nutrition label and ingredients list carefully, and try to avoid these ingredients...
Hydrogenated oils are not only found in supplements, but it's also commonly found in highly processed foods! Both serve completely different purposes, so why do supplements and processed foods contain them?
They help increase the shelf life! These oils are typically cheap vegetable oils, like soybean oil, that undergo a hydrogenation process in which hydrogen is added to it to turn it into a solid fat at room temperature. These types of fats should not be confused with good, healthy fats because they contain trans fat. Trans fats are linked to increasing LDL (bad) cholesterol and decreasing HDL (good) cholesterol. Overconsumption of these facts can have significant adverse effects on our nervous systems, and can even limit the body's ability to absorb essential fatty acids and contribute to heart disease.
It's especially hard to avoid these particular ingredients because they're found in so many popular processed foods. However, make an effort to reduce your intake of them by reducing the number of processed foods in your diet (and being pickier about the ones you do consume) and by avoiding hydrogenated oils in your supplements.
Artificial colors and food dyes are commonly found in those multivitamin gummy bears you loved as kids, but also in your favorite energy drinks or pre-workout powders. Bright artificial colors have been linked to health-related issues and even hyperactivity in kids. Probably because some colors are derived from toxic coal tar which is used for roofing and exterior paints... So, definitely not something you want to consume! Plus, they have no nutritional value, they only add a pop of fun to your foods.
Here are a few artificial food colorings you should avoid...
- FD&C Blue No. 1 and 2
- FD&C Green No. 3
- FD&C Red No. 3 and 40
- FD&C Yellow No. 5 and 6
What should you look for instead?
Look for natural food colorings, like our Chocolate Cheesecake Whey Protein Powder contains cocoa powder to give it that nice deep brown color! Or like our Pineapple Mint BCAA's which contains beta carotene to give it a vivid yellow color that your body ends up converting into vitamin A! There are other natural food dyes used like berries, sweet potatoes, beets, etc.
Magnesium stearate, and stearic acid, are used as flow agents to speed up the manufacturing process and keep costs down. It does this by keeping the ingredients from clumping up and ruining the equipment during the manufacturing process. It's a white powder that is derived from animals and provides no nutritional benefits, but that's not why you should avoid it... Too much magnesium stearate can interfere with and hinder the body's ability to absorb nutrients. This is counterintuitive since it interferes with the contents you would consume if you took a supplement with this ingredient!
Artificial sweeteners are another ingredient hard to avoid, but one that you should consider avoiding completely is maltodextrin! It's commonly found in highly processed foods and supplements as a food additive that does it all. Aside from replacing white table sugar as a sweetener, it also helps improve the texture of foods, acts as a binder, and increases the shelf life of foods too! However, it's heavily processed and has no nutritional value. It also can have negative effects when processed in the body. So, even though the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recognizes it as a generally safe additive to consume, consuming it daily and at high levels can produce adverse effects, including (but not limited to) blood sugar spikes. It's also been linked to compromising good bacteria in the gut and digestive tract which can lead to inflammation or other intestinal issues.
If you prefer flavored workout supplements, then look for ones that include healthy sugar alternatives like Stevia or Monk Fruit Extract!
If protein powder is your go-to protein supplement, then watch out for the filler known as carrageenan! It's a compound that is derived from seaweed and is used in protein powder to help enhance the way it's blended, essentially it makes it easier for you to mix! However, if you suffer from a sensitive stomach, consider avoiding protein powders and other supplements with carrageenan because this additive is linked to bloating, inflammation, and other major digestive problems.
Sodium benzoate is a preservative found in sodas, packaged foods, including supplements to prolong the shelf life. It's an odorless powder made by combining benzoic acid and sodium hydroxide. The reason you want to avoid this particular ingredient is that it can become a carcinogen substance when mixed with vitamin C. Consuming a lot of it can cause stomach irritation, fatigue, dizziness, and other unpleasant side effects. So, watch out for sodium benzoate in the ingredients list!
This additive is one often used as an artificial color, but one you're better off avoiding. It's a white powder that is a natural oxide of titanium. It's used in very small amounts when used in supplements, but it's still important to know that it has been linked to a number of health concerns. Some of the concerning effects include dry skin, skin irritation, and in worse cases, lung inflammation and inflammation of hair follicles.
In summary, when it comes to inactive ingredients, like fillers and additives, it's important to remember that they are usually present in very small amounts. But some supplements contain proprietary blends which means the consumer doesn't know exactly how much of each ingredient they're ingesting. Meaning that it could be mostly inactive ingredients, you'll never really know unless they're being fully transparent on the label! So, be wary of proprietary blends, and try to avoid the additives listed above. Although everyone's body is unique and will react differently to things, you still should take care of your body and avoid potentially dangerous ingredients in your go-to supplements!
What sets 373 Lab Supplements apart from the rest of them?
We are fully transparent with what goes in our supplements. The ingredients found in 373 Lab Supplements are for the sole purpose of enhancing your training performance and recovery so that you can hit new heights on your fitness journey. This means each of our formula blends contains little to no fillers and additives so that the main stars on the nutrition labels are the performance and recovery-enhancing ingredients. To give your body only what it needs, not what it doesn't.
Shop our 373 Lab Collection to discover your new go-to supplement!