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Next time you go to purchase those multivitamins do a little digging, you may be surprised to find out that your “vitamin” is not made by who you thought. Did you know that more than 95% of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that you can buy at “health food” stores and close to 100% of those sold in other stores are now made by the same few pharmaceutical and chemical companies who supply them to most all the vitamin and mineral companies?


Many popular brands of vitamins are “fortified” with the synthetic counterpart of the nutrient claimed to be in the pill. There are many reasons for these synthetic ingredients but the main reason they are used is to increase the bottom line; it is much cheaper to source different chemical byproducts to simulate a chemical make-up than it is to extract minerals and vitamins from growing healthy food. After the money is saved by sourcing dangerous chemicals instead of real ingredients, Big Pharma and their “chemical brothers” can now spend billions making you think that these imitation vitamins are good for you; for every dollar pharmaceutical companies spend on “basic research,” $19 goes toward promotion and marketing.

Below is a list of 5 toxic ingredients contained in versions of the most popular vitamin on the market today, Centrum, made by Pfizer. Less than a year ago, Pfizer was being sued for making false claims about their Centrum multivitamins and there alleged ability to promote “breast health” and “colon health.” The reality is that these supposed “vitamins” are merely synthetic chemical counterparts that do not carry the same benefits as the naturally occurring minerals and, in fact, can cause a myriad of damaging health effects.

First toxic ingredient

Ferrous Fumarate


Ferrous fumarate is the anhydrous salt formed by combining ferrous iron with fumaric acid and used as a hematinic (a preparation used to improve the quality of blood). Unfortunately, inorganic iron is pro-oxidative, stimulating the damaging effects in the body of substances known as free radicals. There is evidence linking high inorganic iron intake to cardiovascular disease and cancer. Excessive iron accumulates in the liver, and may feed bacterial and viral infection. Iron is found, in a healthy body, in the form of metalloproteins, because in exposed or in free form it causes production of free radicals that are generally toxic to cells. In its “free” form iron binds avidly to virtually all biomolecules so it will adhere nonspecifically to cell membranes, nucleic acids, proteins etc., causing substantial damage. When, for instance, iron binds with LDL, it oxidizes it, resulting in obstruction.

Second toxic ingredient

Chromic Chloride


Although trivalent chromium like Chromic Chloride is far less poisonous than the hexavalent form, it is definitely a toxic substance, known to exhibit genotoxic, mutagenic, teratrogenic (reproductive hazard) and is on the Hazardous Substance list. Its main use is in the metal industries for chromizing; in the manufacture of chromium metal and compounds; as a catalyst for polymerization of olefins and other organic reactions; as a textile mordant; in tanning; in corrosion inhibitors; as a waterproofing agent.

Third toxic ingredient

Magnesium Stearate


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Used to make large scale production tableting of supplements and drugs possible, this chemical excipient is produced through reacting sodium stearate with magnesium sulfate, in a way similar to the production of other hydrogenated oils. Magnesium Stearate has shown to cause death from inhalation of the powder.

Fourth toxic ingredient

Manganese Sulfate


The Material Safety Data Sheet classifies this chemical as a hazardous substance. Toxicological data indicates it is tumerigenic, mutagenic and teratogenic (adversely effects reproduction).

Fifth toxic ingredient

Sodium Selenite


An inorganic form of selenium with known toxicity. Studies have shown it may cause tumors, genetic mutations, interfere with reproduction, and cause birth defects. Although it is an essential antioxidant when found in food as biologically active selenium, inorganic selenium as selenite has a pro-oxidative effect.

What can you do to make sure your vitamins are not just chemical cocktails with ostensible health benefits?

Below is a list of precautions one can use to avoid purchasing synthetic vitamins.

Cheryl Myers,

Step 1

Look for the words “100 percent natural” on the product’s label. Some product labels may contain the words “natural,” but manufacturers can claim “natural” on their nutritional products if at least 10 percent of the product comes from natural food sources. The Organic Consumers Organization recommends looking for products that contain “100 percent plant-based” or “100 percent animal-based” on the product’s label.

Step 2

Find the “food source” list on the products label. If the product’s label does not contain a list of natural food sources, then the product is synthetic. Look for food sources such as yeast, fish, vegetable and citrus.

Step 3

Identify whole foods in the ingredient list instead of the particular nutrient. Dr. Ben Kim, a chiropractor and acupuncturist with his own radio show, says to look for foods on the list of ingredients that contain a certain vitamin, such as “acerola cherry powder,” which contains vitamin C. If you can identify “vitamin C” in the ingredient list, Kim says you can almost guarantee that the vitamin is synthetic.

Step 4

Look for salt forms on the product label, a synthetic added to supplements for increasing the stability of the vitamin or mineral. Some of the salt forms to look for include acetate, bitartrate, chloride, gluconate, hydrochloride, nitrate and succinate.

Step 5

Learn how to read the product’s label by looking for keywords that indicate the supplement is synthetic. Words that end in “ide” or “ate” indicate that the product contains salt forms, which are synthetics.

For instance, if you see chloride, hydrochloride, acetate or nitrate on the list of ingredients, the manufacturer used synthetics for the product.

Additionally, the letters “dl” that appear before the name of an ingredient indicates the supplement is synthetic. As an example, look for “fish oils” when buying a vitamin A supplement. If the product’s label states “palmitate,” it is a synthetic vitamin A supplement.

Common Synthetic Vitamins to Avoid

Vitamin A: Acetate and Palmitate

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): Thiamine Mononitrate, Thiamine Hydrochloride

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Riboflavin

Pantothenic Acid: Calcium D-Pantothenate

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Pyridoxine Hydrochloride

Vitamin B12: Cobalamin

PABA (Para-aminobenzoic Acid): Aminobenzoic Acid

Folic Acid: Pteroylglutamic Acid

Choline: Choline Chloride, Choline Bitartrate

Biotin: d-Biotin

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid): Ascorbic Acid

Vitamin D: Irradiated Ergosteral, Calciferol

Vitamin E: dl-alpha tocopherol, dl-alpha tocopherol acetate or succinate