Carrageenan in Supplements: What You Need to Know

July 7, 2024

I was recently coaching a client and she mentioned that she saw a supplement online that she wanted to try. She also commented that it was recommended by a well-known influencer in the wellness industry. She asked me to review the ingredients and to my surprise, I was shocked that someone who claimed to be […]

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carrageenan in supplements

I was recently coaching a client and she mentioned that she saw a supplement online that she wanted to try. She also commented that it was recommended by a well-known influencer in the wellness industry. She asked me to review the ingredients and to my surprise, I was shocked that someone who claimed to be knowledgeable in the wellness industry would make such a poor recommendation. Unfortunately, this is more common than you know. People with little to no training in health make recommendations based solely on their personal experience, which means they may lack the specific knowledge needed for you to make the best decision.

By far, one of the worst ingredients in the supplement she asked me about was carrageenan. In our fast-paced world, where time is precious and health is paramount, it’s crucial to pay attention to what’s in the supplements we take. This is so true for busy women managing motherhood, working, caring for their family, showing up for all the things for everyone else, and leaving their needs last. Trust me, as a mother myself, I know you try to stay vigilant in the choices you make for your family, but this ingredient often sneaks past even the most vigilant.

What is Carrageenan?

Carrageenan is a common additive that lurks in commonly used products like supplements, non-dairy milk, toothpaste, and many more. Often these products are viewed as healthier brands, appearing in your favorite natural, health superstores, which makes this additive appear even more deceptive.

Carrageenan is derived from red seaweed and is commonly used in the food and supplement industries as a thickener, emulsifier, and stabilizer. Manufacturers favor carrageenan because it improves texture and extends shelf life. At first glance, it appears to be a natural and harmless addition. However, as I advised above, looks can be deceiving.

Let’s explore why you should be wary of this seemingly harmless substance.

Health Concerns Associated with Carrageenan

While carrageenan is approved for use by regulatory agencies, numerous studies have raised concerns about its safety. Research has shown that carrageenan can cause inflammation in the gut, which may lead to a range of gastrointestinal issues such as bloating, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and even more serious conditions like ulcerative colitis (UC). Some studies suggest that carrageenan may also trigger immune responses similar to those that cause inflammatory diseases.

Scientific Fun Fact: Carrageenan is used to cause inflammation in studies of animal experimental models and in vitro (cell-based experiments). Researchers use carrageenan in these studies to investigate immune responses and assess the activity of anti-inflammatory drugs.

For those with pre-existing gut issues or sensitivities, carrageenan can worsen symptoms, leading to discomfort and potential long-term health consequences. This is particularly worrying for busy women who rely on making purchases from certain health stores to buy products that fill nutritional gaps, are perceived to be healthier and safer, and support an overall healthy lifestyle. This is especially true for supplements. Women buy supplements to fill a health need, whether that’s nutritional gaps, have more energy, support with weight management, or support with a chronic health condition or the symptoms associated with a chronic health condition.

What This Means For You…

As a busy woman, your health is paramount—not just for your own well-being, but for your ability to care for your family. Ingesting supplements containing carrageenan can unfortunately undermine your health goals. Instead of feeling more energized and balanced, you might find yourself dealing with unexpected digestive discomfort, which can zap your energy and make it harder to keep up with daily demands.

Moreover, if you’re taking supplements to address specific health concerns, carrageenan could be counterproductive. In a similar example, if you are trying to manage gut health, a supplement containing this additive might actually worsen your condition instead of improving it. This hidden ingredient could derail your efforts to stay healthy and active, adding unnecessary stress to your already busy life.

The Good News…

The good news is that you don’t have to compromise on your health. By being informed and proactive, you can choose supplements that support your well-being without unwanted side effects. The first step is to become a label detective. Always read the ingredient list of any supplement you consider buying. Look out for carrageenan and other potential additives that could be harmful.

Opt for supplements that prioritize clean, transparent ingredient lists, free from unnecessary fillers and additives. Additionally, consider seeking out supplements that are certified non-GMO, as this certification often has stricter ingredient standards.

5 Easy, Actionable Steps To Making Smarter Supplement Choices

My mantra your health starts with making smarter choices about what you put into your body. Here are some actionable steps you can take today to avoid carrageenan and other potentially harmful additives:

carrageenan in supplements
  1. Read Labels Carefully: Before purchasing any supplement, scrutinize the ingredient list. If you see carrageenan, put it back on the shelf.
  2. Research Brands: Look for brands that are transparent about their ingredients and manufacturing processes. Check independent, professional product ratings to ensure they have a good reputation for quality and safety.
  3. Choose Natural Options: Whenever possible, choose supplements made from natural sources with minimal processing. These are less likely to contain harmful additives.
  4. Consult a Health Coach or Nutritionist: (um, like me!) If you’re unsure which supplements are best for you, consider consulting a professional, again me. As a pharmacist and health coach, I can provide personalized recommendations based on your health needs and goals. Book a free discovery call to learn more about my supplement membership.
  5. Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date with the latest research on supplement ingredients. Knowledge is power, and staying informed can help you make the best choices for your health. And if you’re not sure about what you have read, again, check with a certified health professional or health coach.

By taking these steps, you can ensure that the supplements you take enhance your health rather than detract from it. Your well-being is worth the extra effort, and in this case, by avoiding carrageenan, you’re making a positive choice for your long-term health and vitality.

Remember, as a busy woman, every decision you make impacts not just you, but your entire family. By choosing high-quality, carrageenan-free supplements, you’re investing in a healthier future for everyone. So start today; choose wisely.

Your health is too important to leave to the latest post on Instagram.

Talk soon,

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I'm Dr. Cori, Your  coach + New bff!

I'm a pharmacist, Life Coach, and Master Certified Health Coach.  I provide health and lifestyle coaching for busy women who struggle with chronic health conditions.  I teach women how to reduce their need for prescription medications, how to use supplements to naturally support their body instead, all while creating a simple and practical health routine.

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Dr. Cori Cooper is a pharmacist, busy mom, and a Master Certified Health Coach specializing in diabetes and gut health.


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