Is Magnesium Stearate Dangerous?
Unfortunately there has been a lot of misinformation spread online about magnesium stearate (or stearic acid), the totally harmless and very effective lubricant long used as the industry standard in manufacturing nutritional supplements. Those who are spreading the misinformation (a nice way of saying outright lies) are generally ignorant (don't know any better), but those who are responsible for originating the lies have an evil and self serving agenda.
Rather than competing based on the quality of their products (which they apparently can't), they are actually compromising quality and using fear mongering tactics to attempt to create a niche market for themselves based on providing an alternative to products made with supposedly harmful magnesium stearate.
Because so few people have an understanding of organic chemistry, they fall victim to baseless claims about impaired immunity based primarily on the total misrepresentation of data from one small in vitro trial that had nothing to do with the use of stearic acid in humans. especially in the minute doses commonly used in supplements. I say this without hesitation or reservation: There is no credible scientific data that indicates that magnesium stearate is harmful in any way!
The truth is that although stearic acid comprises only one or two percent of a typical supplement's ingredients, it is an integral component in dietary supplement (and for that matter, prescription drug) formulation for quality control purposes. Once the raw materials of a vitamin formulation have been mixed together, maintaining the mix consistency is very important to ensure that uniform doses of each nutrient is delivered in every capsule.
Adding a tiny amount of magnesium stearate to the mix keeps the nutrients from sticking together, thereby allowing a consistently maintained mixture. Stearic acid also prevents dosage inconsistency due to certain ingredients sticking to the encapsulation machine. Companies not using the industry standard magnesium stearate may be hard pressed to prove that their vitamin capsules or tablets have a consistent dose.
Making superior quality dietary supplements is far more complex than most people realize. There are numerous variables involved with nutrients that affect flowing and sticking, including particle size of the ingredient, moisture and oil content, chemical nature, solubility, and binding properties. These factors vary based on the ingredients in any product and become more complex as the number of different ingredients in the product increases.
Stearic acid is a very common fatty acid found in meat, poultry, fish, grains, eggs, butter, and milk products. The average American takes in between 5,000 and 10,000 mg of magnesium stearate per day in their diet. The assertion that magnesium stearate somehow causes the formation or proliferation of biofilms in the human body is ludicrous and impossible from a biochemical point of view. Those making such claims are counting on the ignorance of the general public as to what biofilms are, how they form and how they are maintained. Ironically, the opposite is actually true. stearic acid helps to prevent biofilms!
I will post a more in depth discussion of this issue on the Logos Nutritionals site in the near future. Suffice it to say that magnesium stearate is proven safe, and anyone originating (as opposed to innocently but wrongly repeating) claims to the contrary has questionable intent or intelligence, or perhaps both.
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