The Science Behind Our Supplements

Safety Concerns on Magnesium Stearate

The ongoing safety concerns on magnesium stearate should bother everyone because this compound is found in nearly every product we consume today. Magnesium stearate is a compound made up of magnesium and two stearic acids. 

Stearic acid, meanwhile, is a saturated fat used in hundreds of foods, which include animal or vegetable fats & oils. Flaxseeds and cocoa are examples of plants with rich amounts of stearic acid.

Four (4) Common Safety Concerns on Magnesium Stearate

Magnesium stearate is the commonest ingredient in making tablets, as it is a nice lubricant. It is also a common presence in powders, capsules & various food products, including baking ingredients, herbs & spices, confectionery, and chewing gum. 

When broken to its basic form, it is of the same fats with stearic acid. Both are, therefore, often used as additives in cosmetics, dietary supplements, and food sources.

If you were not worried, I bet you’re now. Look at the various sources through which you take in magnesium stearate. Let’s look at four safety complaints on this widely used compound.

Poor Intestinal Absorption 

Magnesium stearate is hydrophilic –water-loving. Thus, there are suggestions that it can reduce the rate at which supplements & drugs are crushed in the gastrointestinal tract. This will directly hamper the ability of the body to absorb nutrients & chemicals from foods. Also, magnesium stearate is a protective compound and may be very difficult to break down when used, thus rendering the drug or supplement containing it useless.

Inhibited T-Cells 

T-cells are a chief component of the immune system and are designed to attack pathogens. Unfortunately, there are claims that magnesium stearate suppresses the growth of these cells, although not directly, but through stearic acid. The most recognized research that described this was a publication of Immunology in 1999. In the study, the inhibitory effects of stearic acid on T-related immune triggers were clearly shown.

Formaldehyde Risk 

A Japanese research was conducted to assess common excipients. In the study, vegetable magnesium stearate was uncovered to be a causative agent of formaldehyde. This doesn’t necessarily have to be scary, though, because data show that this compound is naturally occurring in several vegetables, animal products, and fruits, including spinach, cabbage, beer, coffee, banana, and apple.

Manufacturing Contamination 

The World Health Organization (WHO), in 2011, wrote a report describing how plenty of batches of magnesium stearate were contaminated with harmful chemicals, such as calcium hydroxide, bisphenol, and dibenzoylmethane, Irganox 1010.

However, this was an isolated incident, and thus it would be an immature decision to conclude that all magnesium stearate products are contaminated.

Conclusion— How to Consume Magnesium Stearate Safely

According to the National Center for Biotech, magnesium stearate's ideal recommendation is 2500 mg per kilogram of body weight. If you weigh about 150 pounds, that’s nearly 170 000 mg daily. When considering the safety concerns on magnesium stearate, think of “dose dependency.” 

This means, apart from intravenous overdose in extreme medical conditions, magnesium stearate has never been harmful in ordinary scenarios. The only reported cases of damage are on rats who were forced to take such a large amount that no sane person would ever be able to consume. So, the key is to consume moderately – like you should all drugs.

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