Why the Ingredients in Your Supplements Matter

Your Supplements Matter

Have you ever bought a supplement or vitamin at a drugstore? You are not alone, most of us have. After all, doctors will frequently recommend drugstores as the one-stop shop for medical prescriptions and nutritional supplements

In reality, the supplements found in drugstores are often poor quality and filled with preservatives that are harmful to the body. Although they are cheaper, they do not meet the same standards that supplements at the health food store are required to meet. You will often find statements on the back of health food store supplement bottles such as “free from gluten, dairy, starch, artificial colours, preservatives, sweeteners” – some are even third-party tested!

Here are some examples of harmful ingredients that are common in drugstore supplements (or other processed foods):

Red 40 Lake/Allura red 

This chemical compound comes from coal tars and has been linked to many side effects – hives, rashes, swelling, headaches, nausea and hyperactivity in children. Red 40 Lake can be found in sodas, sauces, cough syrups, cosmetics, foods, and even prescription drugs! The tricky thing is, even if the product is not red, it can still contain this dye. 

Found in: Caltrate (calcium), Metamucil (laxative), Pepcid (antacid) 


Butylated hydroxytoluene is a food preservative that can cause allergic reactions in the skin. Long-term exposure has been linked to liver, thyroid and kidney problems. There has also been evidence showing high doses of BHT can mimic estrogen, leading to estrogen dominance and PMS symptoms. BHT is also frequently found in many cosmetics.

Found in: Centrum prenatal, Centrum multivitamin 


This is one of the minerals that are used in paints, prescription drugs, cosmetics and many supplement tablets. It gives them that white, chalky texture. Talc is not considered food-grade by the FDA but is still present in many supplements! It is often contaminated with asbestos, which is carcinogenic. 

Found in: Caltrate (calcium), Centrum multivitamin, Centrum prenatal 

Titanium Dioxide

Not to be confused with silicon dioxide, titanium dioxide is a food dye that has many health implications. It has been shown to impair immune and lung function when ingested, as it can build up in organs. 

Found in: Caltrate (calcium), Centrum multivitamin, Centrum prenatal, Align probiotics 

Yellow 6 Lake/Sunset Yellow

Banned by Norway and Finland but not by Canada, yellow 6 lake is known to cause allergic reactions, mood swings, headaches and hyperactivity in children. It is often tainted with cancer-causing contaminants. 

Found in: Caltrate (calcium), Metamucil (laxative) 

Making the Best Supplement Choice

While you likely won’t react from one supplement alone, the amount of these harmful compounds that you consume can build up over time. Many of these ingredients can also be found in cosmetics and processed foods. It is difficult to determine how much exposure any of us have, and thus, impossible to test its side effects accurately. 

Supplements are meant to nourish your body in ways your food cannot, so choosing a supplement without artificial and harmful preservatives should be a logical step. And it doesn’t have to be difficult! 

Healthy Planet carries many natural supplement brands that do not use these toxic ingredients. Popular trustworthy brands and products to replace the above examples include:

Calcium & Magnesium – Nature’s Way

50 Billion Probiotics – Genuine Health 

Fibre-Plex Laxative – Douglas Labs

Pre Natal SAP – NFH

Woman’s One Daily Multivitamin – New Chapter 

You can shop knowing your products are safe and nourishing for your body!


Grace Tien is a dietetics and holistic nutrition grad. She creates sustainable, delicious meal plans to help clients with their health goals. Grace specializes in nutrition for healthy periods, you can find out more at @gracetien.ca on Instagram.