Leading pharmaceutical company, Gemini, has spoken up about how easy it is to replace chemical compounds and other ‘inactive’ ingredients (ingredients that are included in the production of a drug to create a tablet or capsule that do not have a direct therapeutic effect) in the production of pharamceuticals. The answer is in the rice.

Gemini manufacture nutritional supplements such as vitamins and minerals, and over the counter drugs. They have found that they can gain most use out of these new ingredients in nutritionals. Traditionally magnesium stearate has been used in the production of these pharmaceuticals as a lubricant. Although magnesium stearate has been deemed safe, in recent years many people have been attempting to ditch anything unnatural when it comes to consuming things. This is particularly true of people who are interested in nutritional supplements; if people are trying to ensure their body has everything that it needs it seems unlikely that they’d want to put unnecessary chemicals into it too.

Gemini boasts that it foresaw this change of heart when it comes to inactive ingredients in pharmaceuticals and started seeking out alternatives before it became a problem for them. They found the answer in the form of Ribus, a company that uses ‘all natural, organic rice ingredients mak[ing] it easier than ever to replace synthetics’ Thanks to Ribus’ replacements Gemini has not only replaced magnesium stearate in many of their products but also silicon dioxide and tricalcium phosphate. Ribus have developed several different types of replacements such as Nu-Flow and Nu-Mag.

Nu-Flow is essentially just rice hulls ground into a fine powder and Nu-Mag combines rice hulls, rice extract, gum arabic and sunflower oil. Not only are these products better for your body than their predecessors but they’re also vegan!

But what are all these chemicals and how can they effect the body?

Silicon and Animal Bone? What’s REALLY Inside Your Vitamin Supplement?

Magnesium Stearate

Magnesium stearate comes from stearic acid; a fatty acid found in pig products, butter, chicken, beef, fish, and milk. It can also be found in plant form such as cocoa and grains, so if you’re looking for a vegan sup, be sure to check the label. Usually made by the hydrogenation of cottonseed or palm oil, magnesium stearate has been linked to health problems. Part of the reason for this is that cottonseed has very high quantities of pesticides used on it and these pesticides are then present in the additive in your vitamin supplement. The additive has been linked to damage to the skin and the liver, not the results you’re looking for with your daily multi-vit.

Silicon Dioxide

Although silicon dioxide is largely sourced naturally (we might know it better as quartz) it has still been found to cause damage to the body over long periods of time. Due to the fact that this compound is found largely in non-consumable items most studies have focused on the effects of silicon dioxide after long periods of exposure and inhalation of the substance. Nonetheless, this additive has been linked with arthritis and kidney damage so it’s unlikely that it will do no harm when ingested.

Tricalcium Phosphate

Calcium ingredients usually found in supplements include calcium phosphate, calcium citrate and calcium carbonate; all of which are vegan ingredients. However the majority of tricalcium phosphate originates from animal bones and oyster shell and as such is not vegan. It also comes with a long list of possible side effects when ingested including ‘digestive disturbances, severe abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, decreased appetite, dry mouth, constipation, convulsions, increased thirst and urination, and occasionally vomiting of blood.’

Although all these additives have been approved by the FDA, they come with a lot of potential health risks. Perhaps we’ll just stick with the rice…