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Do you read the labels of your supplements in detail? 

When buying supplements, many people just quickly skim the list of ingredients without really understanding what's actually behind them.

We admit: The list of ingredients in dietary supplements can be very hard to understand. What many consumers don't know is that supplements from some brands contain many unnecessary ingredients in addition to vitamins and minerals. 

Avoid supplements with a long list of "inactive ingredients" on the label. Because some of these additives can be harmful to your health. 

We explain what exactly additives are and why they are sometimes found in supplements. Learn which additives you should avoid no matter what, so you know what ingredients to look out for the next time you buy.

What are additives and why are they included in some dietary supplements?

Additives do not have any specific function in food supplements that is important for the effect of the product. 

They only serve to achieve certain chemical or physical properties. They can affect the smell, taste, appearance, making them easier to swallow.

In addition, manufacturers add additives to their dietary supplements to speed up the manufacturing process and thus make it cheaper. But cheap is not always good for your body! Especially with products that are supposed to support your health, you should not turn over every penny twice. Additives can cause allergies and can have negative effects on your health.

Fortunately, all manufacturers have to comply with legal requirements regarding durability and effects. Food supplements may only contain substances that are indispensable for the manufacturing process. 

The problem: Of course, some manufacturers give a valid reason for including the additives: to preserve formulas, to improve color and taste or to make supplements look better. However, these coloring, filling or flavoring ingredients can be harmful to your body's health, especially if taken on a regular basis. 

Additives you should avoid no matter what

 1. Artificial colors and colorants 

 A red vitamin supplement looks so much nicer than a colorless one, right? 

Careful! Because adding artificial colors to supplements is considered a major concern. Artificial colors can pose a number of health risks, including cancer risk, allergies, and hyperactivity in children. Unfortunately, vitamin tablets for children in particular contain colorants because they look funnier that way and are more likely to be taken. 

Colorants have no benefit to the consumer and are fraught with health and safety concerns. Therefore, you should take care that they are not in your supplements or in other foods. 

Here are two examples of colorants:

  • Titanium dioxide (E 171):Titanium dioxide is a colorant found in many foods, such as chewing gum. It gives pills, powders and supplements a clean, white appearance. Not only can this ingredient cause many health risks for consumers, but it also creates health complications for the workers involved in its production. In one study, titanium dioxide was found to cause damage to the lungs when inhaled and can increase the likelihood of lung disease. Moreover, ingestion of titanium dioxide was found to cause kidney damage and may have a negative effect on the gastrointestinal tract. 
  • Aluminum (E 173):The food industry uses aluminum as a colorant. Most of the aluminum is excreted through the kidneys and only a small amount remains in our organism. But this is exactly where the problem is! It is not the toxicity at the time of ingestion that worries experts, but the fact that aluminum accumulates over the course of a lifetime. Mainly the lungs and our bones as well as the brain are affected. Although the exact effects of aluminum on the body have not yet been researched with certainty, it is being investigated whether aluminum can support Alzheimer's disease or blood cancer. 

2. Binders and emulsifiers

As the name of this additive implies, binders help hold ingredients together. Talking about supplements, this means that the compressed pill stays in one piece so that it doesn't crumble. But that's about the only benefit of binders. Emulsifiers help bind water and fats together. They ensure a longer storage life and are found in countless foods. 

An example of binder you should avoid is:

  • Magnesium stearate (E572): Magnesium stearate gives capsules and tablets more consistency and prevents ingredients from clumping and sticking together. Magnesium stearate is purely artificial, as it is not found in nature in this form. It is included in most dietary supplements to prevent clogging of machines, speed up production and save money. So for manufacturers it's a terrific ingredient, but what about you? Although the name may suggest it, magnesium stearate is not a significant source of magnesium (only 4%). There is some evidence that it could damage the immune system and destroy cells. In addition, magnesium stearate is even suspected of interfering with the body's ability to absorb vitamins and minerals. So why would we want magnesium stearate in our supplements?!

3. Preservatives

Preservatives are used in the food industry to preserve food supplements - thanks to their antimicrobial effect. This can extend their durability. While preservatives can certainly provide protection against food infections, some representatives can also endanger our health. Therefore, we should strongly question the sense of preservatives.

Examples of preservatives you should avoid are:

  • Sodium benzoate (E211):Sodium benzoate is used to extend the storage life and maintenance of products. In addition to preventing the growth of bacteria, this additive is also used in dietary supplements. However, as an ingredient in a vitamin supplement, they raise concerns. That' s because sodium benzoate reacts with vitamin C and can be converted to benzene and benzene may be considered as a carcinogen. 
  • Citric acid (E330): Citric acid acts as an acidity regulator and preservative. Citric acid is unfortunately very deceptive. It sounds natural and like a lot of vitamin C. But in truth, it has nothing to do with the natural version found in fruits and vegetables. Citric acid is purely chemical and can cause gastrointestinal upset such as diarrhea, indigestion, nausea and heartburn.

 4. Release agents 

Release agents are designed to prevent contamination of machinery and prevent individual components from sticking together. Manufacturers can optimize their manufacturing costs by using release agents. Common release agents include mainly carbonates and phosphates. Phosphates in particular have fallen into disrepute because of a possible interference with bone metabolism. This is because phosphate in a large amount can lower calcium levels.  

Examples of release agents are: Magnesium salt of fatty acids, talc, microcrystalline cellulose as well as: 

  • Silicon dioxide (E551): Silicon dioxide is used in foods to prevent lumps and absorb moisture to ensure freshness. Silicon dioxide is basically nothing more than sand. Sand? Yes, the very sand that is on the beach. One of the reasons sand is used as a food additive is because it is not absorbed by your body. The kidneys can filter out the silica directly. However, an evaluation published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology found that at higher concentrations and prolonged ingestion, silicon dioxide disrupts the cell cycle and inhibits cell growth in the gastrointestinal tract.

Aavalabs and additives

At AAVALABS we do not use any ingredients that are not necessary to show the best possible effect in the body. Transparency and purity are our absolute priority. We care about your health - because logically, supplements are supposed to help you get healthier, not the other way around. 

Do you have questions about this topic? Ingredients in supplements are a complex subject and we want to make sure that all your questions are answered before you buy. Just contact our multilingual Customer Happiness Team at "Contact Us". We look forward to hearing from you!

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