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Going back to the basics, supplements exist because over time, humans have found that higher doses of certain nutrients than what we normally get in our food can be beneficial. Often, eating enough of the foods that contain these nutrients is unrealistic. Putting these nutrients in a capsule or tablet in a higher dose or isolated from food allows us to get the medicinal benefits of these nutrients without putting our health at risk from overeating. However, some ingredients are clumpy, sticky or grainy, and don’t go into a capsule or tablet very well. Other ingredients are not soluble or absorbable, so they require some modifications to be of benefit to us. Finally, some nutrients are required in such small amounts (ie. micrograms) that we can barely see it, let alone fill a capsule with it. These are all reasons why non-medicinal ingredients are used: to make sure that humans can benefit from the nutrients they want more of.

Some ingredients have bad reputations, but those reputations are usually based on eating huge amounts of substances compared to what is found in our products. In addition, most of the non-medicinal ingredients used in quality nutraceuticals are present only in small percentages in each product compared to what we already consume in our diet. Quality manufacturers will use only the minimal required non-medicinal ingredients to ensure the customer is receiving a proper dose of the most active and stable medicinal ingredients. In all cases, the safety data for the non-medicinal ingredients exceeds that of the medicinal ingredients themselves. The following is a list of non-medicinal ingredients sometimes used in supplements, designed to clarify what they are, why they are used and their safety.

Check out 3 for today!

Ascorbic Acid
• What is it?
o Vitamin C
• Why do we use it?
o As an antioxidant to protect ingredients from damaging exposure to the air.
• Why don’t consumers like it?
o It contains the word acid.
o People who are concerned about acid and alkaline foods generally try to avoid acidic foods.
o Some people are sensitive to acidic foods (for example, if they get heartburn, have stomach problems, etc.).
o It is often derived from corn, and many people have preferences to avoid corn products due to its GMO status.
• Important facts to know:
o When used as a non-medicinal ingredient, the amount is tiny and therefore the extent of acidity it adds to the product is minimal.
o It’s a source of healthy vitamin C.
o It’s a highly purified ingredient. There is zero trace of corn (or other source) or protein left in the finished product, so those who are concerned about GMO do not have to be concerned with ascorbic acid.

Silicon Dioxide
• What is it?
o A nearly ubiquitous silica material, that is incredibly poorly soluble.
• Why do we use it?
o Helps powders to flow better, making dosage forms more uniform.
• Why don’t consumers like it?
o People aren’t sure why it’s used and what it’s for.
o It’s used in many industries other than foods and supplements.
• Important facts to know:
o It’s a source of silicon, an essential trace mineral.
o It’s already naturally present everywhere and in everything.
o Only minute quantities (several mg) are used in supplements.
o It is essentially non-toxic when ingested, having a toxicity level of over 5 g/kg body weight.

Dibasic Calcium Phosphate or Dicalcium Phosphate (DCP)
• What is it?
o The primary form of calcium found in mammal milk, also a common mineral form.
• Why do we use it?
o It has a long history of safety, and helps us process ingredients to fit in capsules and tablets.
• Why don’t consumers like it?
o High doses of the pure powder have been found to be irritating, as have high doses used in calcium supplements.
• Important facts to know:
o DCP is used in very small amounts in most products. Any calcium enriched product on the market will have more DCP in it than you will find in any AOR product.
o It is the primary form of calcium found in mammal milk, meaning humans are actually designed to consume it.

You may also be interested in: “Common Misconceptions of Non-Medicinal Ingredients Part 2”


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