One of the most used additives in supplements and drugs nowadays additives is magnesium stearate. It is very difficult to find a supplement on the market today that do not include it, although most of the supplements from Douglas Laboratories do not contain it.
Magnesium stearate commonly known by other names, such as "vegetable stearate" or its derivatives such as "stearic acid".
In addition to being ubiquitous, magnesium stearate is also one of the most controversial ingredients in the world of supplements. In some respects, it is similar to the controversy of vitamin B17, and there is a debate over whether it is a poison or a cure for cancer.
There have been a number of conflicting opinions among experts of natural health, supplement companies and people in general. Each based on their own assumptions, it has been a little difficult to draw a successful conclusion.
However, we can say that, like most additives, magnesium stearate is unhealthy in high doses, but definitely not as harmful to consume as some want to see because it is only available in small doses.
What is magnesium stearate?
Magnesium stearate is a magnesium salt of stearic acid. Essentially, it is a compound containing two molecules of stearic acid and magnesium. Stearic acid is a saturated fatty acid found in many foods, including animal and vegetable fats and oils. Cocoa and flax seeds are examples of foods containing substantial amounts of stearic acid.
After decompose in the body, fat is essentially the same as that of stearic acid. Some sources even claim that the magnesium part of it can be used to supply the body with this essential mineral.
Considering the wide prevalence of magnesium deficiency, this suggests that magnesium stearate may actually have a beneficial effect on the body.
For what purposes magnesium stearate is used?
Magnesium stearate is the most common ingredient used in the manufacture of tablets because it is a fabulous lubricant. Known as a "flow agent" which helps speed up the manufacturing process, as it prevents the ingredients to stick to mechanical equipment. Only a tiny amount is needed to coat a powder mixture of virtually any mix of medication or supplement.
It is not only fantastic for manufacturing purposes, as it allows transportation without problems in the machines that produce them, but also makes the pill easier to swallow and be mobilized through the gastrointestinal tract.
Magnesium stearate is also a common carrier, which means that helps improve the therapeutic effect of the active ingredient of various drugs to promote its absorption and solubility. Known to be safe vehicles for drugs, excipients also help give the pills a uniform consistency.
Some claim it is possible to produce a medication or supplement without excipients such as magnesium stearate, which raises the question of why they are used when there are more natural alternatives available.
At this point, it remains unclear whether alternatives to magnesium stearate are likely or necessary.
Uses of magnesium stearate
- Lubricating action
- Favors the process of tabletting
- Needed in very small amounts
- Allows tablets to be easy to swallow
- Can improve the therapeutic effect of the active ingredient in some medications and promote absorption and solubility.
Possible side effects of magnesium stearate
Like other chelated minerals (magnesium ascorbate, magnesium citrate, etc.), magnesium stearate does not have inherent weaknesses based on their composition (mineral and an acid).
Moreover, in its report on the magnesium stearate, the National Institute of Health (NIH) poses the threat of an overdose of magnesium impair neuromuscular transmission and can cause weakness and decreased reflexes. Although extremely rare, the NIH reports that thousands of exposures occur each year, but severe manifestations are very rare.
Severe toxicity is more common after intravenous infusion over several hours (usually for pre-eclampsia), and can occur after chronic excessive doses, especially in the context of kidney failure. Severe toxicity has been reported following acute ingestion, but is very rare.
However, it is possible to find much information on which magnesium stearate is associated with a number of side effects, such as:
Because it is hydrophobic (has no affinity with water), there are reports suggesting that magnesium stearate may slow the rate at which drugs and supplements in the gastrointestinal tract are dissolved, which directly affects the body's ability to absorb chemicals and nutrients.
The protective character of magnesium stearate, theoretically, can make a drug or supplement truly useless if the body can not break it down properly.
On the other hand, a study conducted at the University of Maryland states that magnesium stearate did not affect the amount of chemicals released from hydrochloride propranolol (a drug used to control the rapid heart rate and bronchospasm), by what the jury has not yet been issued in this case.
Suppression of T cells
A key body's immune system to attack pathogenic component, T cells, are not affected by magnesium stearate directly but stearic acid (the major component of this compound).
The baseline study that describes this side effect was published in the Journal of Immunology in 1990, that revealed how immune, T-dependent responses are inhibited in the presence of stearic acid.
Risk of formation of formaldehyde
In a Japanese study they evaluated common excipients, and vegetable magnesium stearate was found to be a causative agent of formaldehyde. However, formaldehyde is found naturally in many fresh fruits, vegetables and animal products in minute quantities.
Magnesium stearate produces the least amount of formaldehyde entire selection of excipients tested at 0.3 nanograms per gram of magnesium stearate. To get a proper perspective, eating dry shitake mushroom produce 406 milligrams of formaldehyde per kilogram consumed.
Pollution during manufacture
In 2011, the World Health Organization published a report describing how various lots of magnesium stearate are contaminated with potentially harmful chemicals, including bisphenol A, calcium hydroxide, dibenzoylmethane, Irganox 1010 and zeolite (sodium aluminosilicate).
Because it was an isolated incident, we can not draw premature conclusions and, apparently, people taking prescription supplements and magnesium stearate should not worry about toxic pollution drugs.
Before boycotting all supplements and natural health food for including it as filler, it is important to think in terms of "dose dependence"
In other words, thinking in an intravenous overdose of serious medical conditions, magnesium stearate has only demonstrated its safety in laboratory studies in rats that were force-fed with an exorbitant amount that any human being on the planet could ever consume .
For example, in 1980 the journal Toxicology describes the results of a study carried out in 40 rats fed 0 percent, 5 percent, 10 percent or 20 percent of magnesium stearate as part of a semisynthetic diet three months.
This is what they found:
20% Group: decreased weight gain, weight reduction of the liver, increase the amount of iron, kidney stones and nephrocalcinosis (a condition in which excess calcium is deposited in the kidneys, which has been linked with premature babies).
10% Group: Reduction in liver weight.
Group 5%: No side effects were observed corresponding to less than 2500 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day.
Thus, it should be noted that the amounts of stearic acid and magnesium stearate typically used in a tablet are relatively tiny. Stearic acid typically ranges from 0.5 percent-10 percent of the tablet weight, while the magnesium stearate represents typically 0.25 percent-1.5 percent of the tablet weight. Therefore, in a tablet of 500 mg, the amount of stearic acid, would probably be of about 25 milligrams, and magnesium stearate would be about 5 milligrams.
The conclusion is that too much of anything can be harmful. This is important to consider because, for someone to be harmed their health by magnesium stearate, would have to consume literally thousands of capsules / tablets in a day.
The truth is that the magnesium stearate and all its derivatives are profitable additives for pharmaceutical and supplement manufacturers. However, at the same time they pose little or no threat to people who eat them as part of their regimen of natural supplements for health. All reports that state this filler cause damage are simply not based on science.