Hidden Gluten in Vitamins and Supplements
You’ve gone gluten-free and are proud of yourself for sticking to a strict diet. You’re off the breads and avoiding foods that scream gluten -- a protein that is in anything made from wheat, rye or barley. But did you know that, although rare, some vitamins and supplements can contain traces of gluten?
“No,” you say.
You are not alone. In a study of nearly 1,000 American consumers, we found that 62% did not think that dietary supplements can contain gluten. However, wheat is often used as a filler in dietary supplements. There are many certified supplements, including multivitamins and prenatal and probiotic vitamins, that contain gluten. What’s more, experts in the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University found that more than half of the probiotics tested contained gluten, the protein that could cause gastrointestinal inflammation for those suffering from celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
The issue is important because in the last decade, the dietary and nutritional supplements industry has grown tremendously and new products entering the market are not regulated or tested in the same way as prescription drugs. With limited information, it’s not always clear which supplements contain gluten.
This is why NSF developed the nation's first independent testing standard and product certification program strictly for dietary supplements. The program protects consumers by testing for harmful levels of contaminants and certifying that supplements contain the ingredients listed on the label and nothing else.
So, how can you tell if vitamins or probiotics contain gluten?
“I get this question a lot from family members and friends,” says Janel Abro, business development manager for NSF. It’s one that hits especially close to home for Janel, because her husband has a gluten intolerance and, “I have to make sure any product we bring into our home is gluten-free.”
Janel, who says she swears by her daily supplements of vitamin D, a probiotic, an antioxidant and a multivitamin, shares what to look for in avoiding vitamins with gluten:
- Read the label. First, check the ingredient label.
- Look for certification. Over 50% of Americans believe products that say “gluten-free” on the label have been verified to be free from all gluten. In fact, the only way to be sure of verification is to look for a certification mark like NSF’s gluten-free mark. This assures the product does not contain gluten over the FDA’s allowable limit and is manufactured in a facility that prevents cross-contamination.
“The only way you can be certain is to look for an independent certification mark on the label,” says Janel. “This ensures the company is maintaining the integrity of the product by using gluten-free ingredients and has done the hard work to make sure you know you are getting exactly that. They’ve done audits, verified raw ingredients and finished product testing throughout the whole process.”
NSF’s Consumer Information Specialist can answer any questions you may have about gluten-free certified products at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 800 673 8010.
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