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Ingredients You Never Want to Find in Your Vitamins

Expert shares three things in vitamins to always avoid and why.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Vitamins can be beneficial to help improve overall health and supplement a vitamin deficiency, however, not all are safe or effective. Not only should you speak to your physician before taking vitamins because some can have adverse interactions with certain medications, but researching what actually goes into the vitamins is always recommended. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Jacob Hascalovici MD, PhD as the Clearing Chief Medical Officer who shares what ingredients you never want to see in your vitamins and why. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


What to Know Before Taking Vitamins

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Dr. Hascalovici tells us, "With the current emphasis on micronutrients and wellness, it can often seem as though taking multivitamins could help, or at least couldn't hurt. Vitamins aren't always linked to improved health, however, and in many cases, especially if you're already eating well, buying vitamins may not be benefiting you much, if it all. Certain vitamins can be part of an overall strategy for healthy eating, but on their own, they can't really make up for poor eating habits. In some cases, it's even possible to ingest too much of certain vitamins, which can have negative or even toxic health impacts."


What to Look for in Vitamins

Woman holding a pill in her hand.

Dr. Hascalovici suggests, "You should buy vitamins only from reputable brands with good ratings that regularly conduct third party testing to ensure the quality of safety of their products. Look for vitamins that don't contain a lot of additives or fillers, and beware of vague or extravagant promises."


Food Dyes

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Dr. Hascalovici reveals, "Food dyes and artificial food coloring get put into many things (not just vitamins), but they're still not necessarily welcome additives. While you'll likely stay below the recommended consumption levels of these colorants if you're only getting them with your vitamins, you may also be absorbing these dyes in your everyday foods, too. Research suggests being aware of your intake. It may be best to steer clear of these additives, which can cover up changes in your vitamins due to light exposure, degradation, and other issues."


Sodium Benzoate

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According to Dr. Hascalovici, "It's a type of preservative, but when sodium benzoate is combined with vitamin C, it can convert to benzene, a carcinogen. So avoid any multivitamins or other vitamins containing vitamin C that also hold sodium benzoate."


Things That End in -OLl

Woman is holding a mobile phone and a bottle of pills

Dr. Hascalovici says, "Vitamin ingredients ending in 'ol' often indicate the presence of sugar alcohols that may contribute to upset digestion and other undesirable side effects for people who are sensitive to FODMAPs (which includes many people with IBS). If you're watching your sugar intake, you may also want to know about added sugars, which may be particularly likely to crop up in multivitamin gummies or chews."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather