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Magnesium Stearate (Stearic Acid)

Why are “healthcare professionals” spreading false safety concerns about this ingredient?

Stearic acid is a common fatty acid found in significant amounts in meat, poultry, fish, eggs, butter, grains, milk products, and fruits and vegetables. In our research while using and working with Biotics Research and Garden of Life products, we are getting significant results helping people with serious health concerns from nutritional products from these companies. Also, we have not found any human studies that show magnesium stearate, found in the above list of foods, has any side effects or causes any harm.

We do not promote products with synthetic man-made magnesium stearate, just as we do not use or promote any products that are not derived from a living source.  We believe that our Heavenly Father makes much better foods than man does!

The point is: there is no evidence that magnesium stearate (stearic acid) found in foods is toxic or harmful.

Why Do Companies Say Magnesium Stearate is Harmful?
Much of this mis-information is used by companies who are trying to differentiate themselves from other vitamin companies by providing products that are free of magnesium stearate, typically because they are not able to compete solely on the actual effectiveness of their products.

If anyone tells you magnesium stearate in the extremely small amounts found in capsules is harmful, challenge them to provide you with a human study that proves their point — they will not be able to.

Some people regularly eat a piece of pie, cookie, or consume chocolate (about one-third of the fat in chocolate is in the form of magnesium stearate or stearic acid ) without any concerns, but get all worked up about insignificant amounts found in capsules. It defies logic. A person who eats a chocolate bar will ingest hundreds of times more stearic acid than someone taking a dietary supplement with magnesium stearate.

We have been studying and using dietary supplements that contain magnesium stearate for more than forty years.  We service clients that are in their 80s and 90s who have used Biotics products for over 35 years and they are in good health. If magnesium stearate was so toxic, as some claim, how come none of these vitamin users have become ill after consuming these magnesium stearate containing capsules daily for decades?

Studies of Stearic Acid Misrepresented

Molecular basis for the immunosuppressive action of stearic acid on T cells.
Immunology. 1990. Department of Microbiology and Immunology, East Carolina University School of Medicine, Greenville.
Studies were performed to determine the mechanism by which stearic acid (18:0) selectively inhibits T-dependent immune responses in vitro.

The increased abundance of this PC species may enhance membrane rigidity to an extent that plasma membrane integrity is significantly impaired, leading to a loss of membrane potential and ultimately cell function and viability

This study is often quoted by those who want to demonize magnesium stearate.  However, this study is totally irrelevant to what would occur in the human body from the tiny amounts of stearic acid ingested in capsules. If you directly put a particular nutrient, vitamin, fatty acid, amino acid, medication, herb or any substance in a high enough dosage directly in a cell culture you will get results that have nothing to do with what happens when a tiny amount is ingested as part of a medicine, supplement, or through diet and is diluted and distributed to trillions of cells.

For instance, you can kill a cell if you put too high an amount of fish oil fatty acids near it in a cell culture, but that does not mean fish oil fatty acids, the omega-3s, are harmful to you when ingested. In fact omega-3s are extremely healthy fatty acids.

People or companies who use this type of in vitro study to make such a leap either do not understand medicine or science, or are purposely misleading consumers for marketing reasons.

Another misquoted study questions the presence of hydrogenated oils in magnesium stearate.  Let’s say you took 10 capsules a day with magnesium stearate, you would be ingesting about the same amount of hydrogenated oil as you would if you ate half a donut over a period of one year.  If your diet is so perfect (with absolutely no sugar, bad fats, cookies, cakes, ice cream, etc) that eating the equivalent of half a donut over a period of year would concern you, then you may look to find supplements that do not contain magnesium stearate!.

Absorption Issues

More misinformation is that magnesium stearate hinders absorption of active ingredients. This is not true. People take their supplements with food (chicken, chocolate) that contains hundreds of times the stearic acid found in supplements, yet absorb the vitamins and minerals quite well. We have seen no evidence that the intake of the tiny amounts of mag stearate in capsules interferes with intestinal absorption of nutrients. Anyone who makes this claim needs to show scientific proof with a study done in humans. The intestines are very long and contain an enormous area of absorptive space whereas the amount of magnesium stearate found in a Biotics or Garden of Life supplements is so minimal it would hardly take up any space in the vast intestinal area of absorptive ability.

Human Study Shows Benefits of Magnesium Stearate (Stearic Acid)

A stearic acid-rich diet improves thrombogenic and atherogenic risk factor profiles in healthy males.
Eur J Clin Nutrition. 2001.

To determine whether healthy males who consumed increased amounts of dietary stearic acid compared with increased dietary palmitic acid exhibited any changes in their platelet aggregability, platelet fatty acid profiles, platelet morphology, or haemostatic factors.

Results from this study indicate that stearic acid (19g/day) in the diet has beneficial effects on thrombogenic and atherogenic risk factors in males.

Conclusion of the study: The food industry should consider the enrichment of foods with stearic acid in place of palmitic acid and trans fatty acids.