Non Medical Ingredients in Supplements

There’s been lots of debates on whether one should take supplements (multivitamins and probiotics seem to be the most popular ones, along with vitamin D especially for those of us living in northern latitudes).

My opinion on this topic has changed many times throughout the past few years as I went through college & university study, visit different specialists, and read various health & wellness books… It seems like every time I read something about this topic, new findings come out that dispute the previous findings.


In my recent visit to the Naturopath Doctor, I was asked to discontinue the use of a multivitamin and probiotics that I have been taking for a while. My ND pointed out that those products have non-medical components that could disrupt my gut health (for example increase the permeability of my already leaky gut lining). There’re other reasons why she suggested me not to take those for now as we started a new treatment plan but we’ll get to that on another day.

I felt so stupid and guilty that as a Food Scientist, I know how to read food labels and I do use them when making food choices (not that I’m anti- all processed foods, because not all of them are created equal!), I also understand what some of those non-medical ingredients are and what they do, and yet I seldom read the full ingredient list of supplements but only read the intensity and dosage of the nutrient or component that I’m interested in, other than the brand name and price.


The top three most widely used supplements in North America are multivitamins, probiotics, and fish oil (in this order). So let’s do some case studies on the non-medical ingredients of these popular supplements from big name brands.

  • Centrum Women Multivitamins/ Multiminerals: contains various fillers, stabilizers, preservatives (e.g. BHT is known to be a human carcinogen), artificial colors (I really don’t care whether my pills look “appetizing” or not), color stabilizers (Titanium Dioxide can cause damage to the lung, kidney and small intestine), and products likely derived from GMOs (maltodextrin), some of these ingredients are hormone disruptors and cancer causing components… How ironic for the manufacturer to point out what the product DOES NOT contain.
  • Jamieson Probiotic 60 Billion Ultra Strength 9 Strains: contains products likely derived from GMOs (when products are not declared “GMO-free”, assume they are GMOs, coz who wouldn’t declare them when they are GMO-free?!), stabilizer, preservative, and key allergens that are not declared in an easy-to-recognize way like in food products (the Centrum multivitamin is also an example of this).
  • Webber Naturals Triple Strength 900mg Omega-3: Glycerin is used in food products as a thickener as it helps control moisture level – may cause gas & diarrhea, headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and excessive thirst in some people. Like glycerin, sorbitol is also a sugar alcohol which cause digestive stress.


The Hidden Dangers in Your Dietary Supplements (also discuss about non-medical ingredients in supplements)

Here’s an investigation by CBC News that talks about the validity of some declared supplement contents in the market, a case of undeclared dangerous ingredients, and whether you need to take supplements at all.

Too scary, isn’t it?

2 Comments Add yours

  1. BiotechBee says:

    Your article is very informative, Thank you 🙂


    1. Elaine Li says:

      Thank you very much! So glad it’s helpful to you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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