Hold up: supplements are healthy right? Not a given, according to a PhD biologist and global expert in ageing…

Any products in this article have been selected editorially however if you buy something we mention, we may earn commission

Most of us are aware that many elements of our modern lifestyles can compromise the quality of our skin, from scrimping on sleep and running on empty sugar to grabbing less than nutritional food options while on the go, but what if the health supplements and vitamin pills we’re taking to counter-balance all of that are actually bad for us? We asked Dr. Sara Palmer Hussey, PhD, who is one of the world’s leading authorities on why we age and the creator of Yasmin Le Bon’s favourite anti-ageing supplement Lumity  which ingredients to avoid…

Get The Gloss: What should we consider when picking a nutritional supplement?

Dr Sara Palmer Hussey: “When choosing any supplement, you should always very carefully check the ingredients on the label. Excessive quantities of any nutrient, whether fat-soluble or water-soluble, are undesirable and, if taken daily, can create a toxic load.”

GTG: Is there anything in supplements that can potentially be damaging health-wise?

Dr Sara Palmer Hussey: “Yes. Absolutely. Watch out for excipients-extra ingredients necessary for manufacture and producing a stable product”.

“As these usually add no nutritional value, the fewer the number of excipients, the better. You do not want to see aluminium silicate (talc) in the ingredients list of your supplement. Used as a lubricant mainly in tablets, it is thought to be a neurotoxin that could contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s. It is also considered a carcinogen as it can be contaminated with asbestos.”

“Another ingredient to avoid is a petroleum derivative, propylene glycol. It is used as a binder in tablets and known to potentially damage the kidneys, heart and nervous system. Although exposure in supplements and pharmaceuticals (usually in tablet format) is considered safe, its cumulative presence in terms of number of products consumed and frequency taken can be cause for concern.”

“Another excipient that has received a lot of bad press is magnesium stearate and, its main component, stearic acid, a lubricant very commonly used in tablets and hard capsules to prevent them from sticking to machinery during the manufacturing process. Although this excipient has been deemed safe for use, many experts are warning that it could damage our intestines, thus preventing the absorption of nutrients, as well as suppressing the immune system.”

GTG: What should we look out for before buying liquid and powdered supplements?

Dr Sara Palmer Hussey: “Liquid or powdered supplements usually contain large amounts of sweetener. It is best to avoid anything containing aspartame, acesulfame potassium, sucralose or saccharin. Natural sweeteners, such as stevia, are preferable.”

GTG: Anything else to be aware of before we hit the till with a particular supplement?

Dr Sara Palmer Hussey: “Parabens are an obvious category to shun. They may appear in supplements as a preservative, but considering their link to breast cancer and hormone disruption, they are best avoided both in supplements and external personal care products.”

“Artificial colours labelled FD&C and derived from coal tar should also be avoided as they have been linked to various serious conditions, including hyperactivity in children, cancer, asthma and reduced fertility.”

“Sodium benzoate, a preservative and flow agent used in supplements, is known to form benzene, a known carcinogen, in the presence of ascorbic acid (vitamin C).”

“Fish oils and certainly fish liver oils are to be avoided as they can frequently contain carcinogenic contaminants such as dioxins, lead, mercury and PCBs.”

GTG: Is there any difference between hard capsule and tablet formats and soft gel capsules in terms of drawbacks and benefits?

Dr Sara Palmer Hussey: “Hard capsule and tablet formats require different excipients. These include anti-caking agents, binders, fillers, acidulants, disintegrants, preservatives, flavours, colours, coatings and lubricants. While most of these ingredients are non-toxic, you may prefer to limit consumption of them.”

“Beeswax, sunflower lecithin and gelatin are the main excipients in soft gel capsules. Beeswax is used to suspend the formula in the carrier oil, sunflower lecithin is used to emulsify the liquid and oil portions into one homogenous fill and the gelatin is used to make the shell. Thanks to gelatin’s composition, it can be sealed around the fill to provide an airtight container that keeps out oxygen and light and keeps the capsule filling active and stable without necessitating preservatives. The soft gel excipients are minimal, natural and nutritionally valid. This gelatin shell dissolves easily in the stomach and its contents, already emulsified, offer easy, gentle and maximum bioavailability without needing to be taken with food.”

“Put simply, bioavailability is the ease with which any nutrient can make its way into your body and so is able to have an active effect.”

Dr Sara Palmer Hussey, PhD, created Lumity, which is a ground-breaking two-step morning and night supplement that fights  all nine causes of ageing simultaneously , and is currently taking the beauty world by storm.

Lumity is a soft gel clean beauty supplement which contains 17 vitamins, minerals and amino acids and is an all natural way to fight the ageing process.

Dr. André Nel , Surgeon and Cosmetologist says: “Lumity ticks all the boxes as the all-encompassing food supplement that replenishes the body from within to combat the nine causes of ageing, - resulting in better sleep; more energy; increased mental clarity and a more youthful looking skin.”

Inspired to give Lumity a try? Get your 4-week supply for £79  here .

This feature was created in partnership with Lumity