Continuing to Explore Carrageenan and Controversial Leaky Gut

Published on September 19, 2016 by Dr. NavNirat Nibber

In the spirit of transparency, it is important that we address the rationale behind why certain supplements are developed with ingredients and processes that challenge convention.

Recently AOR launched vegan softgels; a line of supplements that allows ultimate absorption of the ingredients due to carrageenan which is a non-medicinal membrane that encapsulates the contents of the supplements. It seemed like an unlikely choice as carrageenan has garnered somewhat of a misinformed and negative reputation even with the safety approval from regulatory authorities. As a company that prides itself on the quality of our ingredients we decided to question the evidence and reexamine our decision to use the controversial carrageenan. Here are some of the positive results from our research.

Recently our guest blogger, Dr. Anjan Nibber, wrote an article looking at new research that has been challenging the current reputation of carrageenan, a common food additive. Other challenges have been made online including this article on the website foodnavigator-usa.com, also discussing safety concerns. It seems to be a hot topic on everyone's mind! The main concerns regarding carrageenan are related to its tumorigenic potential, which was discussed and refuted in our last article, another source of contention has been how it may promote “leaky gut” in some individuals. Let's take a look at the new evidence challenging this notion.

The concept of leaky gut originated after researchers at the University of Chicago presented a correlation between carrageenan and increased intestinal cell permeability. However, the results have not been possible to reproduce in animal or cellular models. The Food and Chemical Toxicology Journal published their own study earlier this year that replicated the University of Chicago study and added necessary controls to ensure reliability of results. What they found is that the inflammatory proteins were not induced and intestinal cell permeability was not impacted. This result rationalises the support for safety of carrageenan from multiple regulatory authorities such as the WHO, Health Canada and the FDA.

There is a wide range of research supporting the safety of carrageenan and further the question of the validity of the study whereby leaky gut was found and has been called into question.

With all this in mind, product development teams were left weighing the benefits of creating a highly absorbable vegan softgel with a non-debunked reputation on the binding agent that would make that softgel possible to produce. For us the choice was clear. We have enough evidence to substantiate the continued use of carrageenan as a safe to consume binding agent with the excellent benefit of fast absorption and improved efficacy. 

What is your opinion? What do you think about the non-medicinal ingredients that companies use for their supplements? Let us know in the comments below.

Reference:

McKim, JM Jr, Baas H., Rice, G.P., Willoughby J.A.Sr. Weiner, M.L., Blakemore, W. Effects of carrageenan on cell permeability, cytotoxicity, and cytokine gene expression in human intestinal and hepatic cell lines. Food and Chemical Toxicology 96 (2016) 1:10.