I tend to be low in iron and periodically have to take iron supplements. Right now I have the supplement my doctor recommended to me and I’ve made the mistake of looking at the ingredients. After the iron (which I’m okay with because it is the point of taking these) there is: D&C yellow no. 10, FD&C red no. 2, FD&C red no. 3, FD&C yellow no. 6, gelatin, lactose, povidone, silicon dioxide, sodium lauryl sulphate, sucrose, talc and titanium dioxide. All I wanted was some iron, instead I’m getting a hockey sock full of chemicals. I’m also confused why my iron pills have to be a bright red.
D&C yellow no. 10 (quinoline yellow) is derived from petroleum or coal tar. It has regulated minimums of lead, arsenic, mercury and cadmium, which scares me a bit. FD&C red no. 2 (amaranth) is another coal tar derived dye that is actually banned in the the United States because it is a carcinogen. FD&C red no. 3 (erythrosine) is the same dye dentists use to demonstrate how much plaque are on your teeth. FD&C yellow no. 6 is a lemon yellow dye that may cause everything from hives to kidney tumors.
More adverse reactions of inactive ingredients can be found here.
The gelatin is likely needed to make the outer capsule – so I’m okay with that. Lactose is a sugar found in milk, plenty of people can’t tolerate it, so why include it? Povidone is a binder which is also used in glue sticks, I don’t know if it is bad or not. Silicon dioxide is probably harmless. Sodium lauryl sulphate is highly effective in getting oil stains out. Sucrose, also known as table sugar, isn’t too bad. Talc is added as a glidant, which I assume is to help the pill go down or make the manufacturing process smoother. Titanium dioxide is a white pigment that has also been used on rockets and as a sunscreen.
These ‘non-medicinal’ items may not be dangerous in the amount the pills contain, but I just don’t think I need them. I’m going to find an iron supplement without all these questionable ingredients.