In the booming dietary supplements market, binders and fillers are all but universal. Almost anything formed into a tablet or encapsulated has some extra, non-nutritional ingredients. This is not to say that all additives are worrisome. Plant cellulose and silica are quite common in quality brands, and neither poses a problem. Responsible manufacturers who care about their customers generally steer clear of strange chemicals and known toxins. Then there is Materna, a prenatal supplement brought to us by Nestle. (The same folks pumping the state of California dry for their own profit) The additives in Materna will blow your mind.
Stranger Than Fiction
If I told you that there was a massively wealthy multinational corporation, headquartered in the hills of Switzerland, manufacturing vitamins for pregnant women that contained substances known or suspected to be carcinogenic, mutagenic, immunosuppressive, endocrine disruptors, you might think I was trying to pitch a screenplay. Sadly, it is not fiction, I’m just reporting my latest findings.
I first learned of Materna while doing research for my next book. Nestle happens to own huge swath of the food, supplement, and beverage companies on the market, and I kept finding products with strange ingredients on their roster. This was especially troubling after seeing that they consider themselves to be “the leading Nutrition, Health and Wellness company.” Of course, strange additives in supplements are quite common. This post by Mike Adams explains how some big brands have failed to look out for their customers, but what I found in this Nestle prenatal supplement is particularly insane.
Section 11 of the material safety data sheet for this chemical tells us it “may cause adverse reproductive effects based on animal test data”, and it “may cause cancer” as well as “affect genetic material”. It also states that there was “no human data found.” Color me concerned just the same.
Sodium Laurel Sulfate
This detergent/emulsifier is typically relegated to use in industrial cleaners, cosmetics, and other non-consumable products. Someone at Nestle decided it would be fine to add it to their prenatal vitamins. While there is a serious lack of long-term studies on the cumulative effects of repeated ingestion, there is data that suggests it is harmful to organs and the endocrine system.
As a synthetic, insoluble vinyl polymer, crospovidone is chemically stable and not readily metabolized. This leads to rapid accumulation in the body, particularly the liver, kidneys, and spleen, implying that it may adversely affect immune function over time.
FD&C Red 40 aluminum lake
I thought this compound had an excessively long name, then I found its real name. 6-hydroxy-5-[(2-methoxy-5-methyl-4-sulfophenyl)azo]-2-naphthalenesulfonic acid is the most widely used dye. It has been linked to hyperactivity in children and the growth of tumors in the reticuloendothelial system (part of the immune system). Considering the lack of published metabolism data, the troubling linkages just mentioned, and the non-essential nature of the dye, it has no place in supplements or in anything else consumed by living organisms.
Magnesium Stearate & Stearic Acid
Magnesium stearate is created when a magnesium ion is bonded to stearic acid. The British Society for Immunology has studied stearic acid and found it to have an “immunosuppressive action” on T cells (part of the immune system). Are we noticing a pattern here?
There is no long-term safety data on this ingredient but the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety has classified it as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” This is more fully explored in the post by Mike Adams that I mentioned earlier.
This well-known “preservative” will readily form benzene (a known carcinogen) when combined with vitamin C or E. Nestle apparently believes this makes it perfect for adding to prenatal vitamins. It is found in a wide range of processed foods as well as in cosmetics and oral care products. Possible effects of long-term exposure include nutrient depletion and immunosuppression.
Butylated hydroxyanisole may or may not be carcinogenic, depending on whose study you’d like to favor. I haven’t seen any studies that show why it needs to be added to anything edible, given the uncertainty.
There are also several ingredients that are undesirable due to the likelihood of their coming from GM sources (soybean oil, corn starch, modified food starch) and others that are simply untested (sodium silicoaluminate).
For a company to use 3 or 4 of these compounds in a product is about par for the course: let’s ask ourselves why Nestle saw fit to add all the above-mentioned substances to a prenatal vitamin. I am not much of a theorist but I can’t un-see what I’ve seen as I researched the company and its products. As manufacturers of everything from infant formula to medical-grade nutritional supplements, they have a truly cradle-to-grave business model. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with that, it’s all about the quality of the products. Nestle Clinical Nutrition has several offerings for those battling cancer (linked below), and the ingredients are horrifying. Between the use of carcinogenic, immunosuppressive chemicals just discussed and the sugar-laden concoctions made for newborns and the hospitalized, one can’t help but wonder what “the leading Nutrition, Health and Wellness company” is really up to. Let’s not forget how much low-grade candy they sell while we’re at it. Only the uninformed or the foolish could believe that Nestle is operating with the best intentions.
Actions to Take
As a woman, you want to steer clear of “the #1 doctor recommended prenatal/postpartum multivitamin” (Materna) and seek out cleaner nutrition. Remember, pregnant mothers are sharing their blood supply with their developing babies. As an individual person, your best defense against bizarre additives is to consume real, whole foods as often as possible, while choosing supplements that are as close to the real thing as possible. By way of example, chlorella provides vitamins A, D, K, iron, beta carotene, chlorophyll, protein, and more, without any need for encapsulation, binders or fillers. As a society, our best defense against whatever insane corporate agenda Nestle is enacting is to educate ourselves and our friends/family while completely boycotting all Nestle products. It will be easier said than done, they own things you never heard of. But it is of equal importance, to the world and to future generations, as the toppling of Monsanto.
About the author:
Lionel is an author, speaker, health and wellness coach. He lives in New York but works with people across the country to raise awareness and create life-affirming habits. He can be contacted through his coaching site, LionHeartedLiving.com