The 10 worst toxins hidden in supplements and foods

10 toxins in supplements

by Mike Adams –

I’m absolutely shocked at how many people don’t investigate what’s really in the supplements and food they swallow. When something is sold as an herb, vitamin, superfood or supplements, they think it’s automatically safe. And while the natural products industry has a truly remarkable safety record — especially in contrast to the massive number of deaths caused by pharmaceuticals — it still suffers from a lot of hidden toxins that are routinely used throughout the industry.

I know this because I’ve been an investigative journalist and activist in the natural health industry for over a decade. Natural News is arguably the most-read natural health news website in the world, reaching millions of readers a month. I’ve walked the floors of countless trade shows, conducted hundreds of interviews and spent tens of thousands of dollars on laboratory tests to determine what’s in these products. On top of that, I’m deep into organic product formulations and certified organic food production, serving as the supervisor of a USDA-certified organic food production and packing facility.

When I look around the natural products industry, I see examples of super honest, high-integrity companies like Nature’s Path and Dr. Bronner’s. I also see an alarming number of cheats, crooks and charlatans who are only involved in the industry to profit from the explosion of interest in health supplements. In truth, some supplements are downright dangerous to your health. My role as a journalist and activist is to help you tell the difference between products that are GOOD for you vs. products that might actually be toxic. Because ultimately, I want you to be healthy, vibrant, intelligent and active. I want you to enjoy life and improve the quality of your life.

Be prepared to be shocked in reading what follows. After reviewing this list, you will probably throw out quite a few products and supplements in your refrigerator and pantry. Very few people are willing to tell you the truth revealed here, so some of this may come as a complete shock (see #1 and #2, below).

Toxic Vitamins, Supplements, and Health Food

#1) Maltodextrin (from GM corn)
Let’s start out with the big one first: If you pick up a natural product and the ingredients list says “maltodextrin,” chances are very high that the maltodextrin in the product is derived from Monsanto’s GM corn.

Virtually all the maltodextrin used throughout the natural products industry is genetically modified. Products that are certified USDA organic, however, are not using GMO maltodextrin.

The non-GMO, non-corn replacement for maltodextrin derived from GM corn is tapioca maltodextrin, and you’ll find tapioca starch / maltodextrin in many certified organic, non-GMO products. Corn maltodextrin should be avoided unless it’s certified USDA organic. Look for tapioca maltodextrin instead (or no maltodextrin at all).

#2) Vitamin C / acorbic acid (from GM corn)
Here’s another whopper that’s sure to open some eyes: Nearly all the “vitamin C” sold in vitamins across America right now is derived from GMO corn.

This means that many of the supplements sold at Whole Foods, the vitamins sold on, the pills at your local pharmacy, and especially the products at the grocery store are (nearly) all routinely made with genetically modified vitamin C. It’s typically called “ascorbic acid,” and nearly 100% of the ascorbic acid used in the natural products industry is derived from GMOs.

Sourcing non-GMO vitamin C requires you to go outside the United States. There is no existing supply chain of certified organic, non-GMO ascorbic acid available anywhere in America (at least not to my knowledge). You can’t even run batches of non-GMO ascorbic acid production in the USA because all the facilities are contaminated with residues of GM corn.

Rest assured that all those cheap “vitamin C” pills sold at retail are derived from genetically modified corn.

#3) Hexane-extracted soy and rice proteins
Nearly 100% of the “natural” soy proteins sold in the USA are extracted in China using a hexane extraction method.

CLARIFICATION (updated): The primary manufacturer and distributor of brown rice protein in the USA, which imports brown rice protein processed in China, insists that hexane has never been used in the extraction of their product, not in the conventional brown rice protein nor their organic brown rice protein.

Their brown rice protein is a “hexane-free, non-GMO, Prop 65 compliant, Gamma Oryzanol-rich whole grain Oryzatein powder” and the manufacturer is Axiom. They supply a lot of the brown rice protein to numerous sources in the USA, and this is the best brown rice protein product available today, partially because it is NOT hexane extracted.

There is brown rice protein that’s hexane extracted in China, however, but that’s not carried by Axiom. So if you’re buying anything with brown rice protein, make sure it’s sourced from Axiom and not from another source that uses hexane. I also encourage you to eat only certified organic brown rice protein, not conventional brown rice protein.

Anything from China, by the way, should be double checked for metals content just to make sure it’s all clean. This is true across the board for all food products from China, not just brown rice protein. We have consistently found nutritional products from China to be contaminated with worrisome levels of metals, which is why I personally won’t put my brand name on anything from China other than a few exceptions that are well-tested such as goji berries (grown in the Himalayas). The Axiom company says their brown rice protein tests completely clean, but until I run those tests myself, I can’t say for sure whether I concur with the claims.

What the industry really needs right now is a U.S. manufacturer of brown rice protein, for which a multi-million dollar market already exists. If Axiom would find a certified organic U.S. grower for its brown rice protein, the company would receive a huge endorsement from Natural News and probably find a whole new wave of demand from consumers who want U.S. grown products. Texas, by the way, produces a lot of organic brown rice. Surely there must be a way to extract the protein in America and not have to go all the way to China to find this.

Hexane is a highly explosive chemical. It is not only extremely hazardous to the environment, there may also be trace amounts of hexane left remaining in the resulting protein products. My understanding is that hexane extraction is not allowed in certified organic proteins, so if you have a choice, go for certified organic instead of just “natural” (which means nothing anyway).

Hexane extraction, by the way, is also used in the manufacture of textured vegetable protein (TVP).

#4) High levels of Aluminum in detox products
Natural News helped expose high aluminum levels (over 1200ppm) in a popular detox liquid, causing the main U.S. distributor to issue a “recall” notice and provide over $1 million in refunds to customers.

The manufacturer of this product, Adya Clarity, intentionally and knowingly deceived consumers by mislabeling the product and not mentioning the 1200ppm of aluminum it contained. The FDA seized some of the products and ran its own lab tests, confirming the high aluminum level as well as identifying multiple labeling violations.

Adya Clarity is just one of many so-called “detox” products containing alarming levels of aluminum and other metals. Ingesting these in order to “detox” your body may be harmful to your health. This experience also proves you can’t always trust health products sold through online webinars, where manufacturers can ignore labeling laws and fabricate false claims. Buyer beware when it comes to metals in detox products that claim seemingly magical results.

#5) Lead and arsenic in herbs from China
China is the most polluted nation on the planet (by far), yet many fruits, vegetables and herbs are grown in China and exported to North America for use in natural products and supplements.

High levels of lead and arsenic are routinely found in various food, supplement and herbal products from China. I’m not concerned about 1ppm or lower, by the way, of heavy metals like lead and mercury. Even aluminum isn’t necessarily a problem when found organically grown inside foods that test at higher levels such as 150ppm. But when lead, arsenic, mercury and cadmium get to high saturation levels (or are present in inorganic forms), it makes the products potentially a source of heavy metals poisoning for consumers.

Astonishingly, many of the small and medium-sized companies that import and retail products from China conduct no metals testing whatsoever. I know this as a fact because I’ve talked to people doing this.

#6) Inorganic minerals in cheap vitamins
Would you eat iron filings and call it nutrition? The majority of people don’t know that most of the cheap vitamins sold today are made with iron filings. “Scrap metal,” almost.

The calcium found in cheap vitamins is often just ground-up seashells, and magnesium is often sold as cheap magnesium oxide which may be completely useless to your body’s cells. If you’re buying mineral supplements, you may be wasting your money unless the minerals are in the right form: Magnesium orotate or malate, for example.

When it comes to mineral supplements, you’ll often find trace levels of scary things like barium and lead in liquid supplements, but these are typically at such low levels (ppb) that they are no real concern. But the No. 1 best source for all minerals is, not surprisingly, fresh plants. If you really want to boost your minerals, feed ‘em to sprouts or garden plants, then eat or juice those plants. Forget the supplements. Your body wants “organic” minerals from plants, not inorganic minerals from rocks.

#7) Carrageenan?
The Cornucopia Institute, a highly-effective food activism group that we’ve long supported, recently published a warning about carrageenan in foods. Cornucopia says carrageenan is linked to “gastrointestinal inflammation, including higher rates of colon cancer, in laboratory animals.”

It goes on to report:

Given its effect on gastrointestinal inflammation, Cornucopia urges anyone suffering from gastrointestinal symptoms (irritable bowel syndrome/IBS, spastic colon, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic diarrhea, etc.) to consider completely eliminating carrageenan from the diet to determine if carrageenan was a factor in causing the symptoms.

Personally, I have never had any problem with carrageenan, and given that it’s derived from seaweed, I also didn’t mind the source. I actually consume quite a lot of carrageenan in Blue Diamond almond milk, which I drink when I’m too busy to make my own raw almond milk. And I’ve never had a problem with it whatsoever. So from my personal experience, I don’t see carrageenan as a worrisome ingredient, but I do understand that some people experience it differently, and it may be troublesome for people whose digestive systems are more sensitive than my own.

For the record, I definitely don’t consider carrageenan to be anywhere near as worrisome as, say, aspartame, GMOs or MSG.

#8) Acrylamides
Acrylamides are cancer-causing chemicals produced during the cooking of carbohydrates. Fried snack chips, for example, contain acrylamides. They don’t have to be listed on labels because they are technically not “ingredients.” They are chemicals produced during cooking or frying. Consuming acrylamides increases kidney cancer risk by 59 percent.

The FDA has published an extensive reference guide on acrylamide levels in foods, revealing that french fries have the highest levels of all. But they are also present in prune juice and even breakfast cereals.

A bag of organic snack chips can have just as many acrylamides as a bag of conventional snack chips. This is why fried snack chips should be eaten only sparingly, or never at all. I’m guilty of eating some of these chips myself from time to time, but I limit the quantity and make sure I’m taking chlorella or other superfoods at the same time to counteract the acrylamides.

Interestingly, it turns out that vitamin C blocks acrylamides from causing damage to your body. But if your vitamin C is from a GMO source (see above), you may want to rethink that strategy. Natural citrus juice, rose hips or even camu camu berry powder is a much better choice of natural, full-spectrum vitamin C.

If you eat fried foods of any kind, make sure you ingest a lot of vitamin C, astaxanthin and chlorella before and after your meal or snack.

#9) Hidden MSG / yeast extract
Hidden MSG is a huge issue across the natural products industry. Pick up almost any veggie burger, and you’ll find it’s made with yeast extract, a hidden form of MSG (monosodium glutamate).

Yeast extract is unbelievably prevalent in the food industry because it looks nicer on the label than “MSG.” Most people are trained to avoid MSG, but yeast extract slips by, so food manufacturers put it into canned soups, dip mixes, snack chips, microwave dinners and especially in vegetarian products, many of which are so loaded with chemicals and additives that I won’t dare touch them. Just because a food says “vegetarian” doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

Hidden MSG is also labeled as “autolyzed yeast extract” or “torula yeast” or even “hydrolyzed vegetable protein.”

#10) Fluoride in green tea
Green tea is famous for being contaminated with high levels of fluoride. This is frustrating, because green tea is phenomenally good for your health. It has been proven to lower “bad” cholesterol levels, and it may even help prevent cancer and neurological disorders. It’s probably one of the healthiest beverages you can ever drink.

The tea plant that produces green tea just happens to uptake a huge amount of fluoride from the soils. So when there’s fluoride present in those soils, the green tea will have a surprisingly high concentration, sometimes as much as 25ppm.

An interesting article on this issue is found at

While this fluoride in green tea might not be a health hazard all by itself, the governments of the world seem insistent on pumping even more synthetic, chemical fluoride into the water supplies, thereby creating a high risk for fluorosis. Adding green tea to the fluoride consumption you might experience from tap water is a recipe for disaster: brittle bones, discoloration of teeth and even cancer.

The final “dirty little secret” of the natural products industry

Finally, there’s one more secret you need to know about. Most importers, packers, vendors and retailers of natural supplements foolishly trust the lab results provided by the manufacturers and exporters!

So a typical U.S. company that sells, for example, pomegranate powder on the internet may never conduct their own tests for lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic and aluminum. They will simply take the lab tests provided by the manufacturer and consider those to be absolute fact!

This is extraordinarily foolish. Growers and exporters routinely lie about their lab tests in order to pull the wool over the eyes of importers, formulators and retailers. The lab tests are easily faked or simply bought off in their home country. Contaminated products can be easily sold and exported because the FDA doesn’t routinely check imported raw materials for heavy metals contamination.

126 Comments on The 10 worst toxins hidden in supplements and foods

  1. Check out the Comparative guide to nutritional supplements to find out which brands actually have these toxins, available at a public library or amazon. There are good supplements that work very well and are safe

  2. Arsenic is a real problem with USA products, too. This is because commercial food for pigs and chickens CONTAIN arsenic…it makes the meat nice and pink, and looks “fresh” longer. Where do you think all that arsenic goes? If the offal is used as fertilizer, it infuses whatever it grows (that is why the American rice crop has so much arsenic in it) and then it leaches into our water. Don’t think you can just eat beef…commercial food for beef contains chicken offal. The government is making it harder to buy directly from farmers, too.

    And it’s all because our society worships money/profit/the bottom line. Just call it the beast…that’s what it really is. And it is never sated.

  3. All ascorbic acid is made in China except that made in Scotland by DSM, which is non-GMO and bio-identical to natural vitamin C and the vitamin C produced in all animals except fruitbats, red-billed bul-bul bird, guinea pigs, primates and humans. It is available from Doctor’s Best, The Vitamin C Foundation and at

  4. Garden of Life Vitamin C is Non-GMO verified. Just found today at Sprouts. It costs twice what other Vit C costs, but now I know it’s more than worth it! I am also throwing out my KAL brand Xylitol, because it came from China! Thanks a lot, KAL. Thought you could be trusted!

  5. Can I ask where you get the information you are posting? You post a lot of information on here which is a little concerning. I know your intentions are good but please make sure you are getting your information from valid sources.

  6. That’s the truth. Dr. says take this, so we do it and some people have reactions and die. or get sicker, or it actually helps. But who reads the ingredients. Well after seeing these ads run by Drug companies about possible side effects is absolutely frightening.

  7. Lol. People obviously can’t read. This is why our whole system is screwed up. People don’t take the time to see what’s really there. OK. One final attempt for those who still don’t understand what I mean: I do not want more government control. I do not want to live in a police state. I do NOT trust the government and I definitely do not think the government will help us. And that’s exactly the issue here! What I’m saying is that it shouldn’t be like this, if there is a government, well then it should take a stand and be on OUR side. Otherwise there’s no point of it being there. Us, being ‘the people’. And not Monsanto or lobbyists or GMO related companies, etc. I’m not a fool, I know that’s not happening and that’s exactly what I’m condemning here! English is not my native language, but I think what I’m saying is quite understandable. There. I’m sorry, I can’t put it any simpler. To those of you still don’t get what I mean: it’s because you refuse to understand.

  8. I’m with eva on this one. the government is failing us. I don’t understand why there are still people who can’t see that these horrific products need to be prohibited. I know they won’t and I know why but that doesn’t mean it is right. it’s not.

  9. Seems like some of you are still not getting my point. I’m not saying the government is doing what it should: on the contrary. But because they’re not, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t! It’s still their responsibilty! Or is it normal for them not to give a damn? About time they started caring, if you ask me! It shouldn’t be up to us. Now we simply don’t have a choice.

  10. Wow! Thank you so much! I’ve been taking vitamin c chews daily, and I was completely unaware of the absorbic acid coming from GMO corn. I will certainly stick to friuts and hibiscus for vit c now. . This was a very informative article.

  11. Much poverty can be eliminated by promoting the consumption of locally grown
    greens, veggies and fruits. This would mean an improvement in health and a lessening
    in medical bills and medicines. Health is wealth is a very true statement in quality of life
    as well as in the pocketbook. Medical expenses and medicines are one of the principal
    causes of domestic poverty sometimes leading to loss of home and overall finances.

    The promotion could be carried out inexpensively with the cooperation of local schools.
    Fliers that encourage the consumption of local greens, veggies and fruits in English and
    Spanish at a cost of pennies per flier can be distributed to school children with much great
    effect now and for the future. Ten thousand fliers at five cents per copy is only $ 500, a very
    minor cost in relation to the very positive effect the promotion will have on many families
    and the community as a whole. The fliers could be distributed once a month in the schools
    during the school year.

    The children could be further encouraged by letting them create the images and words on the fliers with a monthly selection of the best flier of the month to be copied and distributed.

    The distribution of natural seeds to encourage growing greens and veggies at home could
    be a good compliment to the above suggestion.

  12. Anybody in this day and age who actually thinks our leaders are looking after our well being needs to seriously wake up. I understand that we are being constantly bombarded with lies in the mainstream, people dont know what to believe, while some people dont know how to go about searching elsewhere. But the truth is out there. Find it and share the knowledge!

  13. The government is not made up of all good people. The government exists in name only as a private enterprise that serve the purposes of the elite at the expense of the tired hungry masses. Who makes the rules for the rules makers?

  14. Teresa Cortez, when I say those vitamins are pure, they are. I know what I’m doing and I know what I’m eating. Just trying to spread the word, cause I know it’s not easy to find products like that. Maybe if all of you weren’t so critical we could work together! We’re all on the same side here.

  15. And it does start with the consumer! By not buying those products, we ARE making a statement. But it will take more than that! There are too many people out there who don’t have a clue. Something has to change.

  16. I know what you mean but I think you’re missing my point, Clementine… I don’t rely on anyone either. But it shouldn’t have to be like this, that’s what I’m trying to say! Instead of ‘just’ investigating, we should deal with the core of the problem, being legislation. Not everyone has the common sense to keep checking labels and reading up! And those people shouldn’t be doomed to live unhealthy lives. They deserve that protection. The whole system is just wrong and that’s appalling.

  17. Honestly, it shouldn’t be up to us to investigate! That’s the government’s job. And they continue to fail at it. Absolutely disgraceful. We need stricter legislation! Everywhere. This shouldn’t even be possible.

    • Eva, noone should rely on anyone else to ensure their well-being except parents, its important to do your own due dilligence as money has more influence than health…i’ve been researching for over 5 years as a wellness consultant to provide the best advice I can, however if they (my clients) are not willing to make the changes my work is done and the result is up to them.. live your life…don’t let others live it for you. 🙂

    • Money buys legislation… And most corporations have enough to define things however they want, including what is ‘safe’, or worthy of investigation. They’re in bed with all of all our regulatory agencies in some form. It starts with the consumer.


    • Eva, Tania, Vicki.. everyone.. this is so great to see here that others are seeing /caring what is going here… but what can we do … we have to get together on a big scale .. the masses have to stand up to this countries poisonous leaders. In a very obvious BIG way ..but… There are so many that aren’t seeing or caring though. And it kills me know, want revolution, and not have the masses yet responding.

  18. Heard this from one of my friends the other day…

    (My Friend) spoke to a guy on Thursday who is a doctor and he used Nano Technology to cure cancer in a day. He released a paper about his experiment and 2 weeks later a couple of guys came to his laboratory and told him, “We don’t like what you are doing! Cancer is a Trillion Dollar industry, we are not here to cure people. Get rid of everything or else. We are not the kind of people who ask twice.”

    P.S (We live in South Africa)

  19. The crap you can still find in higher priced organic products. Seriously. Tom’s of Maine natural toothpaste contains carrageenan, as does some organic soy milk I found. You can’t trust anything! 🙁

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