A human hand with red, white and yellow supplement capsules in their palm. The background behind the hand is yellow.

What’s In Your Vitamins and Supplements?

Have you ever wondered what’s actually in the supplements that you take each day? Would you be concerned to discover that often ingredients don’t even need to be in there? As a consumer looking for a more natural way to support your health, your first point of call is to know what’s in vitamins and supplements so you can make smart decisions.

When we need to get vitamins or minerals or other supplements, many of us will head to the pharmacy, chemist or even to the supermarket. We’ll look at shelf upon shelf of bottles and boxes. Some will have fancy fonts, others bright colours. They all promise something unique. They all promise better health.

We know you’re busy. In between slogging out a demanding work schedule, managing a household and trying to keep fit, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with information overload – especially when trying something new! 

We asked our naturopath-scientist Dane Renshaw from Atomic Regs Pty Ltd to give us the low down on what’s in our vitamins and supplements so that you can make the best choice for you and your family. 

Health products with ingredients that work

Firstly, you are not alone. Most Australians don’t know what’s in their vitamins and supplements. They typically trust that because it is a medicine, it’s completely healthy and that every ingredient is in there for a reason.

Thankfully, here in Australia all products go through a rigorous regulatory system. It’s one of the most thorough regulatory frameworks in the world for vitamins and supplements (also known as complementary and alternative medicines or nutraceuticals). This means that you can buy products off the shelves with some confidence. Just about every supplement that’s legally allowed to be sold on Australian shelves goes through a strict regulatory process.

For example, our Immunity Plus product says that it ‘helps the immune system to fight illness’. In order to be able to legally show this on the label, we’ve gone through a thorough research process checking what each ingredient actually does in a clinical setting.

If it says ‘traditionally used…’ on the label then there is unlikely to be the scientific evidence to support the claim, at least not right now.

What’s in a supplement tablet or capsule?

Natural health products are typically made up of active and non-active ingredients. Active ingredients are those that have been included because they have been shown to improve or support health.

When companies make a new supplement, one of their first consideration is ‘how much of an active ingredient can we fit into a tablet, capsule or dosage? And how much of that ingredient can we afford to use?’

If they’re making health claims, ideally the quantity of the ingredient meets at least the RDI (a term, you’ll see frequently – it means ‘recommended daily intake’) or is the same dosage as included in clinical trials. But sometimes it’s impossible to fit the amount of an ingredient required into a capsule or tablet.

Typically, a standard capsule can hold around 750 milligrams, possibly 1,000 milligrams if pushed to the limit. This means that sometimes you need to take more than one tablet, capsule or dosage to get the required and effective amount.

If there’s extra space outside of those key ingredients, it usually gets filled up with non-active ingredients. Typically, companies will either:

  • Include additional ingredients to enhance their impact and health claims, or
  • Include filler ingredients that assist in the manufacturing process.

Should I be worried about filler ingredients (aka excipients)?

If you take a pack of capsules out of your cupboard, the likelihood is that they contain some filler ingredients. These are known as excipients.

Excipients are non-active ingredients. From a therapeutic point of view, they don’t add a lot of value. They do, however, have a purpose.

So why are they in there? Some reasons include:

  • Pretty much all supplements – particularly tablets – contain excipients to help with the manufacturing process. Capsules typically contain fewer excipients (if any), and it’s why we’ve chosen to put our formulations into capsules.
  • While excipients are a necessary component of most supplement and pharmaceutical products, some are certainly better and more necessary than others. Whether you need your tablet to be white or not is something worth considering (titanium dioxide).

Each capsule, tablet or dosage you take contains active and non-active ingredients.

Actives are the important ones in terms of having an impact on your health. These are the ones that should help the condition you’re taking them for. Non-actives, on the other hand, are added for different reasons.

In Australia, natural medicines are highly regulated and it’s why countries around the world hold our products in high regard.  

Here at Give Back Health we’re very particular about every ingredient we use, including excipients. If it’s in the formula, it’s at a dosage that’s shown to be effective. No filler, fluff or fairy dust. We say ‘no’ to many excipients due to sustainability and potential negative impacts on health, for example povidone, crospovidone, magnesium stearate, titanium dioxide, and the list goes on and on and on.

Feel good. Give back.

DISCLAIMER: We recommend speaking with a registered medical practitioner before taking any supplements or vitamins to ensure you don’t encounter any adverse effects or clashes with current medications you may be taking.