Are Your Vitamin Supplements More Harmful Than Healthful?


In my family, supplements serve as an insurance plan. We eat a balanced diet loaded with organic fruits and vegetables. But I still believe we need added nutrients, especially during the winter months when I can't grow my own organic fruits and vegetables. For those days when we fall short, a vitamin supplement comes in handy. But after doing research for our e-book Label Lessons, we learned that some vitamins may be more harmful than healthful. I can’t imagine how some of these ingredients end up in both child and adult vitamin supplements. In the book, we looked at One A Day® VitaCraves® Gummies Regular.

Here are some of the scary ingredients it contains:

  • Artificial dyes
  • Potential GMO ingredients
  • Artificial flavors
  •  Excessive sugar

Here is a peek at One A Day® VitaCraves® Gummies Regular full ingredient list:

Ingredients:  Glucose syrup, sucrose, gelatin, water. [less than 2% of: artificial flavors, ascorbic acid, bees wax, carnauba wax, choline bitartrate, citric acid, d-biotin, d-calcium pantothenate, FD&C Blue #1, FD&C Red #40, FD&C Yellow #6, folic acid, inositol, modified starch, potassium iodide, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vegetable oil (coconut or palm), vitamin A acetate, vitamin B12, vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), vitamin E acetate, zinc sulfate].

Note: Blue ingredients denote potential GMO ingredients and red ingredients denote any of The Scary Seven ingredients.

Artificial Dyes

Artificial dyes lurk in many conventional vitamins as well as medications. Here are some of the culprits:

  • Blue dye #1:  New research shows that blue dye enters the bloodstream of animals throough the skin. Blue dye may cause issues with your gastrointestinal tract while inhibiting cell respiration. Cellular respiration is the process of converting energy from nutrients into ATP and then releasing waste products from the cells. Blue dye may also lead to ADHD, asthma, and other allergic reactions.
  • Red #40: Red #40 is a petroleum byproduct that can cause allergy-like reactions, hyperactivity in children, and is also a potential carcinogen.
  • Yellow #6: Yellow #6 is linked to allergic reactions, nausea, and nasal congestion.

Read more about artificial colors

Potential GMOS

Glucose syrup, listed first on the ingredients label, is often genetically modified. GMO ingredients in the form of sugars, additives, and flavors are likely found in this product but we don’t know for sure because manufacturers are not required to label GMO ingredients.

Artificial Flavors

VitaCraves Gummies list artificial flavors in the ingredients. While we can’t be sure which artificial flavors are actually in the product, we do know that it’s likely a number of chemical additives that can cause both allergic and behavioral issues.

Excessive Sugar

The first two ingredients on the label are glucose syrup and sucrose, that means that this product is a sugary mess. We already get way too much sugar in our diets so we certainly don’t need it in our vitamins.

“The amount of added sugar consumed in processed food is linked to the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.”  -- The Toxic Truth About Sugar

Read more about hidden sugars

Safer Alternatives

Instead of opting for vitamins with harmful ingredients, try this safer, cleaner version: Slice of Life Sugar Free Multivitamin for Adults. They are:

  • Sugar-free
  • Flavored naturally with fruit
  • GMO free
  • Don't contain any artificial dyes

Slice of Life uses Lo Han fruit concentrate instead of sugar. Lo Han fruit is a natural sweetener that is 300 times sweeter than sucrose and has zero calories. Its sweetness  is produced mainly from a nutrient called mongrosides, an antioxidant shown to inhibit cancer.

So now you know what’s in adult vitamin supplements, but the picture is even bleaker for conventional children’s multivitamins. Take a closer look at Flintstone Complete Children Multivitamin Supplement. Here’s what we found. It contains:

Flintstones Vitamins Trans Fats
  • Artificial Flavors
  • Artificial colors
  • Aspartame (artificial sweetener)
  • Hydrogenated Oil (Trans fats)
  • Potential GMO ingredients

Here is the full ingredient list for Flintstone Complete Children Multivitamin Supplement:

Ingredients: Granulated calcium carbonate (calcium carbonate, dextrose monohydrate, sugar, microcrystalline cellulose, maltodextrin), sorbitol, sodium ascorbate, ferrous fumarate, natural and artificial flavors, hydrogenated soybean oil, pregelatinzed starch, gelatin, vitamin E acetate, stearic acid, corn starch. [less than 2% of: aspartame*, beta-carotene, biotin, calcium pantothenate, cupric oxide, FD&C Blue #2 aluminum lake, FD&C Red #40 aluminum lake, FD&C Yellow #6 aluminum lake, folic acid, magnesium stearate, niacinamide, potassium iodide, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, silicon dioxide, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin A acetate, vitamin B12, vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), zinc oxide. *phenylketonurics: contains phenylalanine]

Note: Blue ingredients denote potential GMO ingredients and red ingredients denote any of The Scary Seven ingredients.

Artificial Colors

Why are artificial colors found in children’s supplements when clinical evidence shows that they can cause behavioral issues like hyperactivity and attention span issues in children with or without learning disabilities?

Aspartame

I avoid artificial sweeteners at all costs so I was more than a little disconcerted to find them hidden in a children’s vitamin. Aspartame in particular is linked to a host of ailments because of its ability to cross the blood/brain barrier in children, damaging neurons and potentially leading to neurological issues like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy.

Trans Fats

Trans fats in a child’s multivitamin...you’ve got to be kidding? Especially when you consider that trans fats are the absolute worst--linked to increased cholesterol, heart attack, stroke, cancer, and cell damage. There is no safe amount of trans fats and yet, there they are in a children’s vitamin.

Read more about trans fats

Luckily, there is a healthier alternative. Yummi Bear Sugar-Free Vitamins and Minerals is the better option. They are FREE from:

  • Sugar
  • Trans fats
  • Artificial colors
  • Artificial flavors
  • GMOs

While it’s sad to learn that a vitamin supplement can be loaded with artificial dyes and flavors along with GMOs, trans fats, and sugar, luckily there are plenty of safe alternatives once you know what you’re looking for on the label. This way your vitamins are actually filling in your nutrient needs not polluting your body with unnecessary junk.

Top image: Lisa Brewster

Product Images: Andrea Donsky


By Andrea Donsky| June 16, 2013
Categories:  Care
Keywords:  CareHealth Concerns

About the Author

Andrea Donsky

Andrea Donsky

Founder & Chief Passionista at NaturallySavvy.com. See my full bio here.

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