Q. I take vitamin supplements. Can you tell me about the safety of the plastic capsules I ingest on a daily basis?
A. Many people are shocked by the idea that their pills may be coated in plastic. The plastic ingredients found in many capsules are called phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates). They help make a variety of plastics more durable and flexible
The concern is that some of these compounds act like estrogens and can throw hormones out of balance (endocrine disruption). Research published in Environmental Health Perspectives (March, 2012) turned up 50 prescription drug products that include a potentially toxic phthalate. They also found 26 dietary supplements with these compounds, including some forms of fish oil, garlic, magnesium, vitamin C, probiotics and enzymes.
As the scientists state, “The potential effects of human exposure to these phthalates through medications are unknown and warrant further investigation.” Here is a link to this list.
The FDA does not require companies to disclose whether they use phthalates in their coatings because this is often considered a trade secret.