What is Titanium Dioxide Doing in My Vitamin Supplements?

pacherbs.com“Vitamins are good for us’” is the overwhelming consensus if you ask just about anybody.  They support our body functions and gives us the extra nutrients we need. So what’s titanium dioxide, (now categorized as a carcinogenic in Canada)  doing in bottles from some of the largest vitamins manufacturers.  If you’re like me, this news comes as a big surprise.

How can that be you ask?  The question you should be asking is, do you read your vitamin bottles, herbal supplements and cosmetics carefully enough to know what your buying? Below is the label of one of the largest vitamin manufactures in the U.S.  Check out the nomenclature,  CAREFULLY!  If your not a chemist it may look like a foreign language.  This is the real label, nothing added or subtracted. INGREDIENTS: Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Dibasic Calcium Phosphate, Magnesium Oxide, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Ascorbic Acid (Vit. C), Ferrous Fumarate, Pregelatinized Corn Starch, dl-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate (Vit. E). Contains < 2% of: Acacia, Beta-Carotene, BHT, Biotin, Boric Acid, Calcium Pantothenate, Calcium Stearate, Cholecalciferol (Vit. D3), Chromium Picolinate, Citric Acid, Corn Starch, Crospovidone, Cupric Sulfate, Cyanocobalamin (Vit. B12), FD&C Yellow No. 6 Aluminum Lake, Folic Acid, Gelatin, Hydrogenated Palm Oil, Hypromellose, Manganese Sulfate, Medium-Chain Triglycerides, Modified Food Starch, Niacinamide, Nickelous Sulfate, Phytonadione (Vit. K), Polyethylene Glycol, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Potassium Iodide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vit. B6), Riboflavin (Vit. B2), Silicon Dioxide, Sodium Ascorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Metavanadate, Sodium Molybdate, Sodium Selenate, Sorbic Acid, Stannous Chloride, Sucrose, Talc, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vit. B1), Titanium Dioxide, Tocopherols, Tribasic Calcium Phosphate, Vitamin A Acetate (Vit. A), Zinc Oxide. May also contain < 2% of Ascorbyl Palmitate, Maltodextrin, Sodium Aluminosilicate, Sunflower Oil.

You are not alone if you’re having a hard time understanding the names on this list of ingredients. Certainly, this is not a product you should purchase if you are looking for a healthy vitamin. There was once a time when we received all our vitamins from the foods we ate and the water we drank.  Sadly, it is no longer the case. Vitamins and minerals once plentiful in our soil have been depleted by years of over-harvesting and the use of harsh fertilizers. Taking supplements is necessary today.  But to include un-pronounceable chemicals into vitamin supplements is obscene. This practice by the large manufacturers is not done for fun, all these chemicals actually have a purpose.  Some prevent the gluing together of the tablets, others provide a pleasing color or help the machinery so they don’t clog when filling bottles or capsules.  But why would we want to include these chemicals into our vitamins and herbal supplements when they have never been part of the food chain? Have you seen FD&C Yellow No. 6 Aluminum Lake (included in the list above) grown anywhere or does it come from an animal? The answer is nobody really wants to ingest these chemicals.  Yet ingesting any substance, never before in our food supply worries me.  The trace amounts of scary sounding chemicals may seem like insignificant risk factors but when you add up the number of chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis it becomes alarming,  as do cancers rates. We have no real data on how these chemicals react in our bodies, yet the FDA has approved the use of these chemicals in food products. What about herbal supplements?  Many contain a similarly long list of added chemicals and preservatives.

Do you buy from reputable manufacturers?  Do you read the labels?  Pacific Herbs herbal products are produced with the highest grade raw herbs available.  All our raw herbs are inspected and tested for 200 different impurities. This is the only way to know the raw products are pure and void of contaminants.  We package our herbs in individual stay-fresh packets to avoid the use of fillers, binders, excipients and flow agents.  We figured you probably get enough unknown chemicals from everyday life, you don’t need anymore in your health supplements.

6 COMPELLING REASONS TO TAKE HERBS RATHER THAN PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

1.  Herbal Formulas are designed to treat the whole body, not just the symptoms.

Most Western medications works because they give you quick relief from symptoms but  often do nothing for the underlying root problem.     You can treat the root of the problem with herbal medicine rather than just treating symptoms. You’ll start feeling better from the inside out when you treat the whole body.  The definition of  disease (DIS-ease) is: an abnormal condition of the body causing discomfort or dysfunction.  Disease usually happens slowly over an extended period of time and a complete recovery can take just as long if not longer, quick fixes often don’t work because that is not how our bodies works.herbal-medicine

2. Herbal Formulas are effective.

Imagine how much more enjoyable life would be if you simply had more energy, a clearer head and a relaxed body. Look at the thousands of studies on pubmed.com  that have been done on plant based medicine to prove time tested results are more than coincidence for diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, menstrual irregularities, migraines, the list is endless.

3. Herbs have a proven track record.

Herbal Medicine is the main medicine for over 80% of the world’s population and has a long established record of effectiveness.  Chinese herbal medicine has written documentation going back to 200 AD. Asian cultures have used this plant-based medicine or medicinal herbs for thousands of years and have an inherent understanding of their healing qualities. In fact, many Chinese dishes are  made with herbs for medicinal value, for example to enhance digestion, warm the body during cold weather or cool the body during hot weather.

4. Herbs are 100% Natural.

Our biochemistry has evolved over millions of years with plants as our main source of food, so we are naturally compatible with medicinal herbs. Herbal medicines  inherently have the same chemical structures that built your body in the first place.  Allkaloids, glycosides, flavonoids, saponins and more are all found in natural plants. These are the chemical structures your body needs to repair itself.

5. Herbs are cost effective.

Herbal supplements are the best investment you can make in yourself. They are far less expensive than prescription medication and their greatest savings comes from the prevention of long term illness. The western standard for disease- if you’re not sick, you’re healthy – should not be the measurement of one’s health.

6. Herbs are synergistic; they work with the body’s natural immune system.

Many herbs, like ginseng, for example, are all in one, immune-stimulant, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and anti-oxidant. Herbal formulas often work on multiple organ systems to improve overall health.   No prescription drug can do that.

Dietary Supplements have new GMP rules

vitamins on store shelvesFDA Rules for  Current  GMP Effective June 25th

This week is another important milestone for the Dietary Supplement industry.  June 25, 2009 is the deadline the FDA (Food & Drug Assoc) has given for medium sized companies, (those with more than 20 employees) to comply with cGMP or Current Good Manufacturing Practices.  What this means to the consumer is another step closer to more consistency in  over the counter herbal supplements and all dietary supplement.  The cGMP regulations  protect the consumer by providing  standards for ensuring purity, identity and strength of composition for each product produced.

All told it’s taken 14 years to get to this point. The FDA made allowances for smaller businesses to comply giving them an additional 3 years if they had less than 500 employees. Companies with greater than 500 employees  were required to comply one year ago, June 2008.  Finally, those companies with fewer than 20 employees  have an additional year to comply with the new regulations, until June 2010.

The best producers in the dietary supplement  industry have been complying with the FDA regulations for years and these regulations have no major effect on them.  Now the smaller companies  need to comply, bringing standardization in the supplement industry.   Most likely it will also give third party certification companies an even more important role, proving to the consumer that products truly contain the amount of supplements listed on their label.  No doubt manufacturer will begin putting  pressure on their suppliers to give proof of the purity of their raw materials  taking some of the testing burden of themselves.  Down the road this may lead to increased cost of raw materials as product  testing becomes more the norm rather than the exception.

Although this may lead to some retail price increases, overall it is extremely beneficial  for the consumer.  Products will me standardized and hopefully as a result more effective.  Of course, unscrupulous manufacturers exist in every industry and those adding prescription medications into an “herbal supplement” may still find that without FDA inspectors knocking at the doors for regular inspections it is all to easy to provide tainted products.  This is where third party independent testing is crucial.  FDA will never have enough in their budget to run from factory to factory and oversee these regulations.  Consumers must be diligent in knowing where their products are manufactured and by whom. They must do some minimal research at places like consumerlabs.com to get the independent  assessments  on product effectiveness and  discern whether minimum standards for product purity, identity and strength our actually met.  At least  the FDA has raised the bar and companies must follow. As a consumer of  dietary supplements all I can say is it’s about time.