PrintMagnesium Stearate: What’s All The Fuss About?

Despite what you may have heard about magnesium stearate, it’s perfectly safe.

Does the buzz about magnesium stearate have you confused about your dietary supplement? This would not be surprising, as certain companies and alternative health “professionals” have stirred up useless concern over this inert flowing agent.

So what’s the deal with magnesium stearate and why do some people aim to bad mouth it so much? As to the latter part of that question, usually the reason is simply disguising a misleading sales pitch as information that carries relevance.

Take notice, when magnesium stearate is vilified by a company or person, do they then also tout their own product as superior and the one to buy? Maybe even explaining their higher prices as justified because their product lacks magnesium stearate? It may seem believable, but the truth is that this is just clever marketing to promote and differentiate products, which are usually lacking in quality ingredients to begin with.

The reality is, the use of magnesium stearate in dietary supplements is perfectly safe and should not be feared or avoided. Critics may point to studies showing the “dangers” of magnesium stearate, but look closer at the studies they reference and you’ll see they’re irrelevant—having nothing to do with actual human use of magnesium stearate. To date, there is no evidence or study showing that magnesium stearate is harmful in any way. None. Not to mention the fact that its safety has already been proven by decades of use in foods, prescription medications, and dietary supplements.

The reason for magnesium stearate being a regular component in dietary supplements is that it has natural lubricant properties, which is a very important factor in producing quality vitamins. Especially for complex formulas containing multiple ingredients varying in chemical composition, magnesium stearate prevents those different ingredients from sticking together or clumping in undesired ways because of their inherent characteristics.

Magnesium stearate also stops ingredients from getting stuck to the encapsulation machine—another important factor as certain active ingredients could otherwise stick to machine parts and not make it into the capsules in the preferred amounts for the stated dosage.

The natural lubricating characteristic of magnesium stearate is because of stearic acid, the saturated fatty acid that combines with a magnesium salt to make magnesium stearate. The unique thing about stearic acid is that even though it is a saturated fat, it does not raise LDL cholesterol levels (1).

What companies don’t mention in their misleading/cautioning on stearic acid in magnesium stearate is that stearic acid is actually found in plentiful amounts in other foods. It’s common in meat, poultry, fish, eggs, grains, milk products, and butter. It’s even present in breast milk.

One of the richest sources of stearic acid is cocoa, and by eating a bar of chocolate you’d also be ingesting about 5 grams (5,000 milligrams) of stearic acid. In contrast, the amount of stearic acid present in a dietary supplement capsule is typically between 10 and 20 milligrams—quite the negligible amount. One of the most rigorous assessments of the effects of orally consumed magnesium stearate at a wide range of doses found that for magnesium stearate to be toxic to humans, it would take a daily intake of about 170 grams (170,000 milligrams) for a 150-pound person (2). Not an easy feat to achieve!

The bottom line is that there simply is no known risk or practical reason to not use magnesium stearate in small quantities in the making of dietary supplements. When used properly, as in all magnesium stearate-containing Isagenix products, magnesium stearate is actually a critical factor in producing a consistent and better quality product.

So when faced with a criticizing article from a so-called health “professional” on the dangers of magnesium stearate, simply smile and move on. There will always be those who use scaremongering to try to sell products and win you over, but armed with the right objective mind, you can see through these irresponsible tactics and look to a source such as Isagenix that bases its information, and all of its products, on up-to-date, highly relevant science.

 References:

1) Hunter JE, Zhang J, Kris-Etherton PM. Cardiovascular disease risk of dietary stearic acid compared with trans, other saturated, and unsaturated fatty acids: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr 2010;91:46-63. Doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.27661

2) Sondergaard D, Meyer O, Wurtzen G. Magnesium stearate given perorally to rats. A short term study. Toxicology 1980;17(1):51-55.