10 Ingredients You Don’t Want In Your Multivitamin

By Nikki Lyn Pugh

Reading Time: 7 minutes

This article discusses emerging/ongoing science and research. It is intended for general informational purposes only. This content is unrelated to products offered by Organixx and does not contain any representations about the performance of such products.

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If you think that bottle of vitamin C on the drugstore shelf or the multivitamin you’re about to order online is composed 100% of the vitamin or mineral that is advertised on the label – think again. Many supplements contain a lot of other “stuff” such as fillers, binders, and flavorings that you likely don’t need in your body… or that can even be downright dangerous. Read on for a rundown of 10 “other” multivitamin ingredients that you want to avoid.

Multivitamin Ingredients: What Else Could Be Lurking in That Bottle?

Ingredients other than the actual vitamin or mineral labeled on a supplement bottle are called excipients. They are also sometimes called “inactive ingredients” or simply “other ingredients” on the bottle.

Under this broad term, there are several categories of excipients in supplements, each designed for specific uses. These are:

  • Fillers
  • Binders
  • Coatings/glazes
  • Flow agents
  • Acidulants
  • Disintegrants
  • Colorings
  • Flavorings
  • Preservatives (both natural and artificial)

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires supplement manufacturers to list all “non-medical” excipients on the label [1]. As a side note, while many drug (pharmaceutical) manufacturers voluntarily list inactive ingredients in the medicines they produce, they are not required by law to list them.
woman looking at supplement bottle labelWhether an excipient ingredient is listed on the label or not, it is left up to YOU to learn what those terms are and how they may affect you.

Keep in mind that many ingredients labeled as “inactive” may not be harmless to all people.

For example, for those with celiac disease, a product that contains an “inactive” gluten additive can potentially prove very harmful indeed.

The FDA has approved over 13,000 inactive ingredients for use in medications and supplements, according to early 2017 database information. We cannot list all of them in this article, but what we can do is let you in on some of the key ones you should AVOID for your optimal health.

10 Dietary Supplement Ingredients to Watch Out For

#1. Magnesium Stearate and Stearic Acid

These two related compounds top the list. Not because they are the most dangerous supplement additive out there (there is still debate on that subject, as you shall see) but because they are so common.

Stearic acid can be thought of as a simpler form of magnesium stearate, and one estimate states that about 90% of nutritional supplements contain either one or the other.

They are mostly used as “flow agents” to help manufacturing go smoothly and to speed up this process. They are also considered lubricants, so they can help supplements absorb quicker in the GI tract.

Stearic acid itself is found in many animal and vegetable foods. Flaxseed and cocoa are two foods that contain high amounts of this substance. Sounds harmless, right? Many experts, as well as the FDA, think so. Evidence does show that stearic acid from food may have benefits for health [2].

There can be too much of a good thing, however. Research also shows that the side effects of long-term stearic acid intake could be immune suppression [3], slowing of digestion, formaldehyde risk, and possible toxic contamination due to poor manufacturing practices.

While the jury is still out on the possible harmful effects of magnesium stearate and stearic acid, we at Organixx choose to play it safe when it comes to your health. We do not put either one of these substances in our products and instead choose to use inactive ingredients that come straight from nature.

#2. Gluten-Based Substances

This category is at the top of our list too because inactive ingredients that contain gluten are very common and often are disguised as other substances.

In a 2011 study conducted by Lucian Blaga University in Romania [4], the presence of gluten was found in almost one quarter (23.8%) of vitamin, mineral, probiotic, and other samples studied.

For those with celiac disease or extreme gluten intolerance, the presence of gluten in even the smallest amounts can cause extreme discomfort ranging up to serious health complications.

Substances that contain gluten are also often disguised as other substances. Some of these include [5]:

  • bowls of wheat flour and wheat germwheat starch
  • starch hydrolysate
  • modified starch
  • pregelatinized starch
  • starch hydrolysate
  • dextrins and dextrates

Be sure that you know that these substances are gluten-based so you can avoid them.

#3. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

You’re likely already aware of many of the harmful, toxic side effects associated with MSG, including damage it can do to the brain [6]. But MSG in supplements? Really? Unfortunately, yes. What’s more, some companies are sneaky about it.

Here’s a tip: many “natural flavors” are substances that contain MSG. Your safest bet is to avoid supplements (and processed foods) that contain “natural flavors.”

#4. Lactose

Many people these days cannot digest lactose, a sugar substance found in all dairy products. If you are lactose intolerant, then even supplements containing it may be problematic for you. There is also the issue of the source of the lactose found in your supplements. If it is commercially-derived and non-organic, then you’re likely to be ingesting GMOs and unnecessary hormones as well [7].

#5. Sugar

You may be vigilant in avoiding added sugar in your diet, but could you be allowing it to sneak in through your supplements? Unfortunately, the biggest culprit for high sugar load exists in children’s vitamin and mineral supplements.

According to a 2015 article in Newsweek magazine, many popular kids’ vitamin brands contain high amounts of sorbitol, corn syrup, artificial colors, and artificial flavors [8].

#6. Soy

Soy-based substances are another source of controversy. Unless the label specifies that it is organic, soy products sold in the United States are almost always GMO-derived, which has been linked to reproductive cancers [9].

Other names for soy products in supplements include soybean oil, soy lecithin, and soy protein.

#7. Titanium Dioxide

Titanium Dioxide is used as a pigment in many popular commercial supplement brands [10]. It is a man-made substance that has recently been linked to lung and respiratory tract cancers by the European Chemicals Agency (Echa) [11]. It has also been shown to have an inhibitory effect on the liver [12].

Because titanium dioxide is used for aesthetic purposes only (i.e., mainly to make pills look pearly white), many experts feel it is completely unnecessary to include it in any nutritional supplement.
four bottles of food coloring

#8. D&C red #33

Since 2010, artificial colorings must carry warning labels in Europe because of the link between these dyes and hyperactivity in children [13].

In the United States, no such warnings are required – but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t affecting your neurological health and the health of your family. They are used to make pills red or other warm-toned colors; again for purely aesthetic reasons.

Leave these harmful toxins out of your supplements and out of your diet completely, for that matter.

#9. Methacrylic copolymer

A methacrylic copolymer is used as a glazing agent in many commercial supplement formulas. It has been shown to have “teratogenic” effects in rat studies [14]. This means that it may disturb normal fetal development. If you are pregnant, it is especially important that you avoid this known toxin.

#10. Methyl and Propyl Paraben

This is a category of supplement additives with a definite link to breast cancer and cancers affecting the reproductive and endocrine systems. Studies, including a 2010 Danish study published in the journal Reproductive Toxicology [15], indicate that exposure to parabens can change thyroid hormone levels as well as hormone levels in the reproductive system overall.

Choose Only Natural “Other Ingredients”

Many vitamins and mineral supplement sold at common grocery stores, drug stores, or “Big Box” stores are mass produced and contain toxins such as the ten listed above, as well as solvents that can bind to the nutrient you are ingesting.

On the other hand, supplement companies also have to choose to use 100% natural, inactive organic ingredients in their products for the safety of their consumers.

Keep in mind that there are many “other ingredients” that are perfectly safe to use. Some of these include organic plant cellulose, acacia fiber, apple cider vinegar, fermented sprouted purple maize, and 100% organic, non-GMO gelatin and glycerin.

The question you should always ask when it comes to the supplements you choose is this: “Is the company using “other ingredients” that are as natural and non-toxic as possible?” The answer should be easy to assess as it’s either yes or no. And this response should directly inform which brand you decide to go with for the optimal health of you and your family.

If you’re not getting all the nutrients and antioxidants you need from food, your best source is whole food vitamins. Organixx Multi-Vita-Maxx contains 21 uniquely fermented vitamins and enzyme-activated minerals that are more “bioavailable” and easily absorbed by your body than the synthetic compounds found in most supplements.

Organixx Multi-Vita-Maxx
Nikki Lyn Pugh
Nikki Lyn Pugh, MFA, INHC is a natural health researcher and writer. She is also an integrative nutritional health coach specializing in autoimmune conditions, chronic stress, and energy medicine. She loves to inspire people to become empowered with their health through education and gentle guidance. Nikki lives and works in Cottonwood, AZ, with her bunny "Mr. Dot."

Article Summary

  • Ingredients other than the actual vitamin or mineral labeled on the bottle that finds their way into your supplements are called excipients. They are also sometimes called “inactive ingredients” or simply “other ingredients” on the bottle.

  • There are several categories of excipients in supplements, each designed for specific uses. These are:
    • Fillers
    • Binders
    • Coatings/glazes
    • Flow agents
    • Acidulants
    • Disintegrants
    • Colorings
    • Flavorings
    • Preservatives (both natural and artificial)

  • 10 Dietary Supplement Ingredients to Watch Out For

    • Magnesium Stearate and Stearic Acid
    • Gluten-Based Substances
    • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
    • Lactose
    • Sugar
    • Soy
    • Titanium Dioxide
    • D&C red #33
    • Methacrylic copolymer
    • Methyl and Propyl Paraben
  • Choose Only Natural “Other Ingredients”


  1. I'm concerned about gelatin, that Dr. Stephanie Seneff from MIT says has Glyphosate. Gelatin is made from animal product (hooves, etc) sourced from commercial slaughterhouses. Those animals are fed GMO Round-Up ready grains. That means the grains have been sprayed with Round-Up. The glyphosate deposits in the bones, hooves, sinew of those animals, then made into gelatin that is used in capsules and gummy vitamins!

  2. I think people should be very careful, when ingesting anything that didn't come from a "whole food". In many ways, vitamins and pharmaceutical products, share a lot in common. ( see "Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition" )

    • Hi Warren! Thanks for your feedback. We agree that whole foods would be the most ideal way to get everything our bodies need, but sometimes it's just not possible. We invite you to listen to Doc Nuzum's thoughts on supplementation here: https://youtu.be/Q8iC2ySnrMA

      • Ah but it IS possible to get what your body needs from whole foods. I eat 47 plant powders a day that are whole foods.

    • Hi Camille! For children 4 and over, this product should be used under adult supervision.  For children under 4, consult your healthcare provider. 

  3. 'Thanks for this information, but please note that the bright red background of this page makes the text hard to read (a pale-coloured background would be much easier on the eyes)

    • Hi Jay! The post should be on a white background. We've alerted our Tech team so they can look into why this is happening for a few people. Thanks for letting us know!

    • Hi Koi! Some of the vitamins in Multi-Vita-Maxx are grown in saccharomyces cerevisiae, therefore, it is not yeast-free.

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