ConsumerLab.com Answers  

Question:
What is carrageenan? Should I be concerned that it is an ingredient in my supplement?

Answer:
Carrageenan is a substance derived from red algae, or seaweed, that is used to create a smooth texture and thicken foods such as pudding, yogurt, ice-cream, whipped toppings, milk (including almond and soy milk), soups, and processed meats.  

Carrageenan is sometimes also added to supplements to improve texture or thicken ingredients. It can be found in some multivitamins, vegan and vegetarian sources of omega-3 fatty acids, such as algal oil supplements, nutrition bars and protein drinks. It was also an ingredient in one cocoa product tested by ConsumerLab.com, although it was removed from the formulation in late 2014.  

Food-grade carrageenan is considered safe by most regulatory agencies; however, some researchers who study carrageenan have raised concerns that carrageenan may be carcinogenic and cause inflammatory reactions. See the full answer for more information >> 

See the Review Article about Inactive Ingredients for more information about carrageenan and other ingredients commonly added to supplements.

Also see these related CL Answers:



Some websites are highly critical of magnesium stearate, which is in many supplements. Is this substance toxic and should I avoid it? >>

Should I be worried that my supplement contains "caramel coloring IV"? I've heard that it has been linked to cancer. >>

Titanium dioxide is listed as an ingredient in my supplement. Is it safe? >>

What are sugar alcohols and why are they in my nutrition bar? >>

I read on your website that some B-12 vitamins can cause diarrhea due to added sugar substitutes like sorbitol. I have had diarrhea and never thought it could be caused by my vitamin B-12 supplement, until I read your article and stopped taking the supplement. My diarrhea stopped immediately. Can you help me find a brand of B-12 that doesn't contain sorbitol or sugar substitutes that could cause this problem? >>

See other recent and popular questions >>
COMMENTS

Curtis583   February 24, 2015
Very interesting. Growing up along the Rhode Island seashore, we collected the plentiful seaweed known as "Irish Moss" and used it to make "blancmange" or "seaweed pudding," basically by boiling it in flavored milk, which then thickened when cooled. (You had to strain out the pieces of seaweed before the pudding cooled.) We collected only the pieces that had washed up on the sand and been there long enough to bleach out to a white color. At one time, quite a few folks did this, and I never heard of any bad effects on the digestive system. I wonder if there's a difference between the material fresh from the ocean, and that which gets commercially processed.

Mary Beth588   February 25, 2015
It may also be a total exposure thing, you probably did not eat that pudding every day, but with this being added to a surprising array of products, we are probably exposed to a lot more, at a constant level..

Mary Beth576   February 23, 2015
I had a long period of serious digestive disturbance, after a course of Levaquin - I could not tolerate any dairy at all, and once I made the correlation, I switched to soy milk, which was just as bad, and I was so depressed! Then I saw a Dr Weil post on carrageenan in soy milk, and once I switched to one that did not contain it, I was fine. It took years of probiotics to get my gut back to normal, but now I am able to pretty much eat what I want. However, I still have trouble with carrageenan, and I am hard pressed to find heavy cream (for my coffee) that does not contain it! I don't understand why heavy or whipping cream would need to be 'creamier', but Kalona is the only one I can find without it, even at the co-ops. Very disappointing.

Bach8182   December 13, 2015
Try getting organic cream from a natural food store (local dairy, not super pasteurized and homig. national brands. )

Martin565   February 22, 2015
Why do we even allow carrageenan, a possible carcinogen in out foods and nutritional supplements at all? There are totally safe substances that improve texture or thicken without causing inflamation and possibly contribute to cancer. If you're a label reader, as you should be, do yourself and your family afavor and do not buy anything with carragreenan. Caragreenan is a cheap food additive that some manufactures put into their products to save a few cents. I have a long history of ulcerative colitis and have avoided carrageenan for more than 20 years. Anyone with UC, bowel diseases of any sort, irritable bowel, or who have had family members that had colon cancer, should avoid carrageenan like the plague! One more observation, the more responsible food manufactures do not use carrageenan in there food and supplement products!

Andrea8517   March 11, 2016
Hi Martin565, can you tell me what safe alternative thickeners you are aware of? I would like to suggest some to the organic food manufacturers whose products have carrageenan.

Siegfried564   February 22, 2015
It appears that a frequent discussion on blogs is that it lowers testosterone?

ConsumerLab.com   February 23, 2015
Hi Siegfried - We have seen a study in which degraded carrageenan was injected into rats to induce inflammation and the effects of testosterone on the pain response was measured (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17008018) - but have not seen studies showing carrageenan to lower testosterone levels in people.

Can you let us know where you have read this, and/or what research was cited?


Share your thoughts and comments about this topic in the space below. Please abide by the following rules:
  • If you make a statement of fact, such as whether a type of treatment does or does not work, state your basis -- such as personal experience or a published study.
  • If you make a positive or negative comment about a product, note whether or not you have a financial interest in the product or in a competing product.
  • Please be respectful in your tone.
  • Please do not submit any type of HTML markup or scripting as it will not be accepted, nor will comments that exceed 2,500 characters.
For your privacy, only your first name (from your account) followed by a random number will appear with your comment. Your last name and email address will not be displayed.
Comment:

Share your thoughts and comments about this topic in the space below. Please abide by the following rules:
  • If you make a statement of fact, such as whether a type of treatment does or does not work, state your basis -- such as personal experience or a published study.
  • If you make a positive or negative comment about a product, note whether or not you have a financial interest in the product or in a competing product.
  • Please be respectful in your tone.
  • Please do not submit any type of HTML markup or scripting as it will not be accepted, nor will comments that exceed 2,500 characters.
For your privacy, only your first name (from your account) followed by a random number will appear with your comment. Your last name and email address will not be displayed.
Comment:

You can modify your comment below. Please be aware the comment will have to approve the changes before they will be shown:
Comment:

Your edit has been submitted and is being reviewed by ConsumerLab.com prior to publication.
This CL Answer initially posted on 2/21/2015. Last updated 9/24/2017.
ConsumerLab.com members may submit questions to CLAnswers@ConsumerLab.com. We read all questions and try to answer those of popular interest.

 

   BECOME A MEMBER
JOIN NOW


Product Reviews

ENCYCLOPEDIA
In addition to our product reviews our encyclopedia covers the following:

Herbs & Supplements

Conditions

Drug Interactions

Alternative Therapies

MEMBER TESTIMONIALS


Follow us on...
 
 
 
Join |  Sign In
   
Join Us on Facebook! Join Us on Instagram! Join Us on Twitter! Join Us on YouTube! Join Us on YouTube!
Product Tests
Brands Tested
Health Conditions
Encyclopedia
CL Answers
Clinical Updates
News
Recalls & Warnings
RDAs
Where to Buy Products
Raw Materials Tests
Testing Program
How Products Were Tested
Join CL Today
Testimonials
Join Free Newsletter
Group Subscriptions
Gift Membership
About Us
The CL Seal
CL Survey
Privacy Policy
Sitemap
Contact Us/Help

©2018 ConsumerLab.com, LLC. All rights reserved. A single copy of a report may be printed for personal use by the subscriber. It is otherwise unlawful to print, download, store or distribute content from this site without permission.
ConsumerLab.com name and flask logo are both registered trademarks of ConsumerLab.com, LLC. This site is intended for informational purposes only and not to provide medical advice.