Reading the label: the effect of nutritional supplements on the body


Perhaps some of your diseases are directly related to what you eat, and then controlling your diet will help to avoid them.

Allergic reactions, asthma and hyperactivity

Azo dyes

Despite the fact that all azo dyes have their own classification number, and, accordingly, are considered safe according to the rules of the European Union, many of them (E102 tartrazine, E104 quinoline yellow, E110 sunset yellow, E122 carmoisine, E123 amaranth, E124 ponceau, E128 red 2G and E155 brown HT) can cause asthma, skin rash and rhinitis (resulting in watery eyes and a runny nose), blurred vision, and red spots on the skin. They have also been linked to hyperactivity in children. Scientists say it’s not clear whether food additives are associated with adverse effects on our behavior, and say more research needs to be done to find out how it really is. If you know that you or the people you are buying food for react badly to azo dyes, then it is best to avoid foods containing these substances.


E210 benzoic acid, E211 sodium benzoate, E212 potassium benzoate, E21 3 calcium benzoate, E214 para-hydroxybenzoic acid ethyl ester, as well as E215 para-hydroxybenzoic acid ethyl ester sodium salt, E217 para-hydroxybenzoic acid propyl ester sodium salt — all these additives can provoke asthma and urticaria.

All sulfites, including E221 sodium sulfite, E222 sodium hydrosulfite, E223 sodium pyrosulfite, E224 potassium pyrosulfite, E226 calcium sulfite, E227 calcium hydrosulfite, E228 potassium hydrosulfite, constrict and irritate the airways and can provoke attacks in people with asthma. Such people should be avoided.

Nitrates, which may impair the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, must not be added to foods for infants under six months of age.


The following aliphatic radicals: E310 propyl gallate, E311 octyl gallate and E312 dodecyl gallate — can provoke attacks in people with asthma and lead to health problems in people who are sensitive to aspirin.

kidney disease

E173 aluminum is absorbed by the digestive system and must be excreted from the body through the kidneys. People with kidney disease may have difficulty removing it from the body, so they should be advised to avoid cake decorations that contain this substance.

Skin irritant

Some preservatives, such as E200 sorbic acid, can cause skin irritation. E216 p-hydroxybenzoic acid propyl ester, E217 para-hydroxybenzoic acid propyl ester sodium salt, E218 para-hydroxybenzoic acid methyl ester, E219 para-hydroxybenzoic acid methyl ester sodium salt, can cause skin irritation and numbness of the oral cavity.

E321 bottled oxytoluene in some people can provoke a skin rash.

Irritation of the digestive system and gastrointestinal diseases

Some preservatives can also provoke intestinal diseases:

  • E223 sodium pyrosulfite, E220 sulfur dioxide and other sulfites E221 — E228 release sulfuric acid and can irritate the walls of the stomach.
  • E252 potassium nitrate can cause stomach pain and vomiting.
  • The filler/sugar substitute E420 sorbitol consumed in excessive amounts can cause flatulence, diarrhea and bloating.
  • E421 mannitol can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea in people with hypersensitivity.
  • E627 disubstituted sodium guanylate, E631 disubstituted sodium inosinate and E635 disubstituted sodium 5g-ribunucleotides can cause attacks in people suffering from gout. These flavor enhancers are added to dry rice crackers, crisps, and gravies.


According to some people, monosodium glutamate E621 flavor enhancer can cause dizziness and headaches.

Food supplements not suitable for infants under one year of age and for young children

It is forbidden to add E249 potassium nitrite to foods and drinks for infants under the age of six months.

It is forbidden to use in foods intended for infants and children, all aliphatic radicals, including E310 propyl gallate, E311 octyl gallate and E312 dodecyl gallate.

It is also forbidden to use E320b and E321b in foods intended for infants and young children.

For children and infants under the age of one year, E621 monosodium glutamate is not suitable.

E627 sodium guanylate disubstituted is prohibited for use in foods intended for infants and young children.

E631 disubstituted sodium inosinate is prohibited in foods for infants and young children.

E635 Disubstituted sodium 5g-ribunucleotides are not approved for use in foods for infants and young children.

Brief table of nutritional supplements

Some nutritional supplements fall into more than one group, but in general they can be divided into several main groups:

Dyes E numbers with 100 by 180
Preservatives E numbers with 200 by 285
Antioxidants E numbers with 300 by 321
Sugar substitutes E numbers 420 and 421
Emulsifiers, stabilizers, thickeners and gelling agents E numbers with 400 by 495
«Other» additives: acidity regulators, clumping inhibitors, foam inhibitors, bulking agents, hardeners, flavor enhancers, foaming agents, humectants, modified starches, protective gases, propellants, disintegrants, carrier solvents, emulsifying salts, acids and sequestrants numbers over 500

Brief conclusions

These days it is difficult to completely avoid the consumption of foods and drinks containing additives, but it is possible to reduce the amount you get from food.

The easiest way to cut down on supplements is to go organic or simply go back to the way our grandparents ate: traditional meats (or fish and other protein foods), a couple of varieties of vegetarian food, plus an abundance of fruits and vegetables.

The amount of dietary supplements consumed can be significantly reduced by eating less processed foods such as snacks, sweets, store-bought cakes and cookies.

I think it will be a step in the right direction if you change your diet to include less commercially prepared food with lots of additives that give it shape, taste, texture, color and extend its shelf life.

Source: Adapted from How to Read Labels by Amanda Ursell

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