Originally published September 9 2009
Titanium dioxide in vitamins and supplements: Is it safe for human consumption?
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor
(NaturalNews) Because I take a large number of nutritional supplements, I've become increasingly concerned over the years about supplement excipients, binders and fillers. One ingredient frequently used in vitamin manufacturing is titanium dioxide, a nanoparticle powder made of fine titanium bits. It's best known as an ingredient in sunscreen, but it's also used in thousands of cosmetic products as well as nutritional products.
Yep, if you take certain vitamins made by GNC or Centrum (as well as hundreds of other companies), you are eating titanium dioxide. And this is an ingredient for which no long-term safety testing on humans has ever been conducted. In fact, according to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety, titanium dioxide may be a human carcinogen. As explained on the CCOHS website: (http://www.ccohs.ca/headlines/text186.html)
Titanium dioxide has recently been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as an IARC Group 2B carcinogen ''possibly carcinogen to humans''... This evidence showed that high concentrations of pigment-grade (powdered) and ultrafine titanium dioxide dust caused respiratory tract cancer in rats exposed by inhalation and intratracheal instillation*.
CosmeticsDatabase.com lists titanium dioxide as being linked to cancer, allergies, immunotoxicity and organ system toxicity, among other problems. (http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/ingredient....) Here's a list of some of the many thousands of cosmetic products containing titanium dioxide: http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/browse.php?...
That list, by the way, includes products from many well-known brands.
Titanium Dioxide in SupplementsCentrum vitamins are the No. 1 selling brand of vitamins in the U.S. It is made with synthetic vitamins. The ingredients label reads like a mish-mash of synthetic chemicals and low-cost ingredients with marginal absorption capability: (I'm bolding some of the more concerning ingredients below...)
Ingredients for Centrum Silver Ultra Women's Tablets:
Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Pregelatinized Corn Starch, Ascorbic Acid (Vit. C), Dibasic Calcium Phosphate, Magnesium Oxide, Crospovidone. Contains < 2% of: Acacia, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Beta-Carotene, BHT, Biotin, Boric Acid, Calcium Pantothenate, Calcium Stearate, Cholecalciferol (Vit. D3), Chromium Picolinate, Citric Acid, Corn Starch, Cupric Sulfate, Cyanocobalamin (Vit. B12), dl-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate (Vit. E), FD&C Blue No. 2 Aluminum Lake, FD&C Red No. 40 Aluminum Lake, Ferrous Fumarate, Folic Acid, Gelatin, Hydrogenated Palm Oil, Hypromellose, Lecithin, Lutein, Magnesium Stearate, Manganese Sulfate, Medium-Chain Triglycerides, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Modified Food Starch, Niacinamide, Nickelous Sulfate, Phytonadione (Vit. K), Polyethylene Glycol, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Potassium Iodide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vit. B6), Riboflavin (Vit. B2), Silicon Dioxide, Sodium Ascorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Borate, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Metavanadate, Sodium Molybdate, Sodium Selenate, Sorbic Acid, Sucrose, Talc, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vit. B1), Titanium Dioxide, Tocopherols, Vitamin A Acetate (Vit. A), Zinc Oxide. May also contain < 2% of: Maltodextrin, Sodium Aluminosilicate, Sunflower Oil, Tribasic Calcium Phosphate. Contains: Soy.
Did you notice the artificial coloring chemicals, hydrogenated palm oil and the low-grade form of vitamin B12? Did you see that these vitamins contain talc and sodium benzoate? Check out this wiki page on Crospovidone, which is also found in the Centrum formula: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyvinylpyrrol...
Notice, too, that this formula contains titanium dioxide. It's also found in numerous products from GNC, including this probiotic formula: http://www.gnc.com/product/index.jsp?product...
In fact, here's a Google search that returns 382 pages on GNC.com that mention titanium dioxide: http://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1GGLS_en-...
Vitacost bans titanium dioxide from in-house brandsTitanium dioxide is considered extremely unsafe by Vitacost, which banned the ingredient from its in-house supplements label (NSI). Soon, products from Vitacost (www.Vitacost.com) may even be labeled with a "titanium dioxide free" claim to better educate consumers.
The high-quality nutritional supplement manufacturers recommended on NaturalNews, of course, don't use titanium dioxide. You'll never find it in products from New Chapter (www.NewChapter.com) or Pure Synergy (www.TheSynergyCompany.com), for example. It's not in Dragon Herbs (www.DragonHerbs.com), Mushroom Science (www.MushroomScience.com) or Global Healing Center (www.GlobalHealingCenter.com). These are quality product companies that wouldn't even think of using titanium dioxide in dietary supplements intended for consumption.
In fact, Dr. Ed Group's GHC website offers this excellent overview of the dangers of titanium dioxide: http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/dangers-o...
Most of the current debate about titanium dioxide concerns its topical use and deals with the particle size of the titanium. Coarse particles are believed to be relatively safe for topical use because they cannot be absorbed by the skin. But nano particles may pose a greater risk because there is concern they can be readily absorbed through the skin and enter the bloodstream. As explained by the Environmental Working Group, "Relative to larger particles, nano-scale materials can be more chemically reactive and more easily absorbed into the body. A number of studies raise concerns about potential health risks when these particles are inhaled or are absorbed through the skin or gut. Nevertheless, they are already widely used in products, including sunscreens, with no requirement that their presence be disclosed."
That same page, however, (http://www.ewg.org/cosmetics/report/sunscree...) admits there are few studies that have really looked at the titanium dioxide nano particle absorption issue in regards to cosmetics. EWG concludes titanium dioxide is unlikely to be absorbed by the skin, but it calls for more studies to be sure.
There are even fewer studies that look at whether titanium dioxide is safe for human ingestion, and that's potentially a far more serious issue. Although vitamin manufacturers will of course claim "there's no evidence of harm" from titanium dioxide in nutritional supplements, the reason there's no evidence is because they haven't done any long-term safety tests on titanium dioxide.
The "common sense test" asks the question: Does titanium dioxide occur naturally in the indigenous human food supply? The answer to that is, of course, absolutely not. That's why holistic nutritionists and nutritionally-aware consumers are increasingly seeking to avoid this ingredient in anything they eat or swallow. If it's not part of the food supply in nature, and if it hasn't been proven safe for human consumption, why would you want to introduce an unnatural chemical into your diet in the first place?
The jury is still out on titanium dioxide, but until it's proven safe, NaturalNews recommends readers avoid this ingredient and only purchase nutritional supplements made without it. Fortunately, there are a great many supplement brands available today without titanium dioxide (and other bizarre excipients). Just read the ingredients labels before you buy.
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