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Nasties - things go into vitamins that you need to know about

Read the label. There could be nasties there.

If there is one thing I would encourage you to do before buying your next supplement, it’s to read the label.


Because you will find that the biggest component of most supplements are either

1) Fillers
2) Binders or
3) Flow Agents

Let’s take a look at each of these in turn.


Fillers are ingredients used to “bulk out” vitamins because the amount of material needed to fulfil your daily requirements is actually quite small.

I originally came across fillers while talking to vitamin producers about making vitamins for our customers and was informed that “I wouldn’t be considered as a customer unless I used fillers as the main ingredient.”

Fortunately, I won’t repeat my comments to the manufacturer, as they involved some colourful metaphors.

Needless to say, we didn’t reach any sort of agreement. But it did get me thinking and then learning about fillers.

Fillers are used to increase the profit margins of the manufacturers (since they are cheap) and usually supply no nutritional value at all.

Take a look at your current supplements now. Do you see anything you don’t recognise?

It’s probably near the top. Here’s why.

According to the UK Food Standards Agency, ingredients “must be listed in weight descending order determined at the time of their use in preparation.”

This is commonly referred to as the “mixing bowl” stage and what it means is that the most plentiful ingredients get listed first.

You will usually find your fillers there.

If you don’t, consider yourself lucky and well done on choosing an all-natural, pure vitamin.

What fillers should you look for?

Maltodextrin - this is the most common filler, click on the link if you want to find out more


Binders are materials used to glue the ingredients together so that they would hold their capsule shape. Most binders are therefore found in supplements that are not contained in a gelatin capsule vitamins or powder form vitamins.

Flow Agents

Flow agents are materials added to the supplement to make the raw ingredients flow through the tablet machinery. They are necessary in most cases, for a simple reason.


If you want to make a supplement from, say, cranberries (you are a good soul and haven’t made yours from chemical derivatives) you will find very shortly that they are sticky. Even in powdered form, they tend to clump together and jam up the production line.

So (most of the time) you need to add in another ingredient to make everything flow more easily. The faster you run the machinery, the more flow agents you need.

Now, assuming that you add in something that adds nutritional value then you should be fine.

Powdered horsetail is a natural source of silica and I’m told is an excellent flow agent.

Unfortunately, most manufacturers will use something like Magnesium Stearate as a cheap flow agent, one that is probably not a healthy option.

If you are curious about the individual chemicals that are commonly used, grab your nearest supplement bottle and look up anything you don’t recognise from the items below.


Magnesium Stearate

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