Animal ingredients in supplements - what you need to know

Animal ingredients in supplements - what you need to know

Lambs’ tongues, pig stomach linings, boiled sheep’s wool, shellfish cartilage, boiled hooves… these are just some of the sources of common ingredients found in vitamin and mineral supplements sold on the high street.  

They're used as active ingredients or bulking, binding or colouring agents in tablets and capsules, alongside other nasties such as Talcum Powder and Titanium Dioxide, classified as a carcinogen.

As well as animal ingredients and nasty additives, you also need to watch out for fake independent expert reviews - learn more in this article here and in this expose article here

Whatever your diet, plant-based or not, there's a better way to get the nutrients your body needs so DR.VEGAN only uses naturally sourced and plant-based ingredients to create ethical, higher quality and more absorbable supplements, free of additives and any animal ingredients. 

Here are 12 of the most common animal ingredients to watch out for in your supplements:

1. Gelatin

Gelatin is a very common additive often found in supplements, usually used as a coating ingredient for tablets or filler in capsules and gels.  It is also commonly found in puddings and desserts. And its source? From boiling the hooves, stomach, ligaments, tendons and tissue linings of cattle and pigs!

2. Lanolin

The most common source of Vitamin D on the high street is sourced from boiled sheep’s wool. It is extracted by washing the wool in hot water with detergent before centrifugal separation or solvent extraction. This form of Vitamin D is commonly used in supplements as it is cheaper than the vegan form which is from algae.


Discover our highly absorbable Vegan Vitamin D3

3. Collagen

Collagen is another very popular supplement, in particular in many hair, skin and nail supplements. Where does it come from? It is a fibrous protein found in the connective tissues of animals, normally cows or fish. 

Learn more in 'The truth about collagen'.

Some companies call their products “vegan collagen” but remember this doesn’t actually exist. It is more than likely the nutrients they provide help your body produce its own collagen - in fact, the only vegan collagen available is the collagen your own body produces. 

4. Magnesium Stearate

A very common form of magnesium which is used as a filler or coating in tablets and capsules, and is often found in Multi-Vitamins. It is a fatty acid normally derived from pork but can also be found in chicken, beef, fish and milk. 

5. Glucosamine & Chondroitin

Often taken for osteoarthritis, joint pain and used in skin creams, Glucosamine and Chondroitin occur naturally in connective tissues of humans to help protect cartilage. 

For supplements, they’re derived from shellfish and shark's cartilage respectively.  Check your supplements to see if they contain shark cartilage as there are many other options that are cruelty-free! 

6. Glycerine

Often used in supplements as a preservative and sweetener, while it can be plant-based and derived from soybeans, Glycerine can also come from animal sources, including beef or mutton fat. 

7. Caprylic Acid

Derived from goats, sheep or cow’s milk, Caprylic Acid is often used as a filler or coating ingredient in tablets. 

8. Bone Meal

Sourced from animal bones and can be found in calcium supplements. It can also be found commonly in bone broth (a soup often recommended for its bone health benefits).

9. Carotene

Beta carotene converts in your body into Vitamin A and is a red-orange pigment found in plants and fruits, especially colourful vegetables. However, Carotene can also come from animal tissues so check this when choosing which supplement to take. 

10. Carmine

Used as a red food dye in supplements. Carmine comes from beetles and is a totally unnecessary ingredient in supplements.

11. Lipase and Pepsin (Digestive Enzymes)

Digestive enzymes like pepsin and lipase can be plant-based, but always check the source as they can also be derived from lambs and calves.  Lipase is more often derived from the tongues of calves and lambs. Pepsin is a digestive enzyme often included in supplements for digestion. Pepsin comes from the stomach lining of pigs.

12. Hyaluronic Acid

A vital nutrient to support your skin hydration and the production of collagen, vegan forms of Hyaluronic acid are quite common. However, it can also come from rooster combs (the red fleshy growth on a rooster's head) - so double check your hyaluronic acid is vegan! 

Next time you're buying your supplements, always read the label and if in doubt ask where the ingredients are from! 

Want to discover higher quality and more ethical supplements? 

Shop our range and get 20% off your order with code DR20 and a 30 day money-back guarantee. 

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