If you’re reading this article chances are you’re the type of person who reads labels too. The kind of educated consumer who pays close attention to the ingredients in the foods you eat and the supplements you take so you can avoid things like MSG and other troubling additives.
But it’s also likely that you’ve never heard of magnesium stearate.
Magnesium stearate—or “Mag stearate” for short—is a chemical some nutritional supplement companies use in their products. It essentially acts as a lubricant allowing capsules or pills to pass quickly through machinery allowing the machines to run faster.
As the name implies magnesium stearate is made up of magnesium and the saturated fat stearate. You can think of it kind of like a bubble wrap around the ingredients in your supplement.
Magnesium stearate has zero benefits for your body
Magnesium stearate doesn’t serve any nutritional function. Because, despite the name, it doesn’t even provide your body with usable magnesium.
Once your body does the work needed to split the magnesium from the stearate you’re left with an insignificant amount of magnesium that may amount to a few milligrams at best.
Compare that to the 200 to 800 milligrams that’s actually required to be a therapeutic dose.
But that’s not the only reason you should be cautious about this additive.
In fact there are eight troubling truths you ought to know about magnesium stearate.
8 reasons to be wary of magnesium stearate
I’d like you to grab all your supplements and take a close look at their ingredients labels. If you spot magnesium stearate here are eight troubling truths you should know about the additive before you decide to purchase another bottle:
Troubling truth #1:
Magnesium stearate isn’t a source of magnesium for your body, don’t be fooled by the name.
Troubling truth #2:
Magnesium stearate is a mechanical lubricant intended to grease machines for faster production.
Troubling truth #3:
Magnesium stearate has no nutritional value whatsoever.
Troubling truth #4:
Magnesium stearate, like artificial colors and flavors, is just an additive.
Troubling truth #5:
Magnesium stearate is sometimes sourced from genetically engineered hydrogenated oils (and there’s no way to tell if the mag stearate in your supplement is GE or not).
Troubling truth #6:
Magnesium stearate could slow down the release of the active ingredients in your supplements.
Troubling truth #7:
Magnesium stearate may reduce the bioavailability of the active ingredients in your supplement making it less effective and unpredictable.
Troubling truth #8:
Unsurprisingly, since magnesium stearate is kind of like a “grease” it can cause digestive troubles for some sensitive folks.
Magnesium stearate isn’t toxic but it IS unnecessary
To be perfectly clear, not everyone agrees with me on this. For example the sales people at your local vitamin store, while typically very intelligent folks, will likely say that magnesium stearate is a widely used ingredient that’s perfectly fine.
And they’re half right, it IS widely used. But that doesn’t mean it’s perfectly fine. While I do agree magnesium stearate is NOT by any means a toxic ingredient, it IS an unnecessary one.
The bottom line is magnesium stearate is an additive with zero benefits for you. And it could inhibit the absorption of some ingredients. (Folks still can’t agree on that second point.)
Now don’t misunderstand me. I certainly don’t mean to alarm you or have you throw out every single supplement in your cupboard.
But there’s nothing wrong with upgrading your formulas one by one or contacting your favorite supplement maker to register your concerns and to ask about alternative products they make that don’t use magnesium stearate.
In addition to writing a syndicated column on health which reaches 20 million people each week, Suzy is the author of a number of books on natural health.
You may have seen Suzy on The Dr. OZ Show (6 different appearances), The View, The Doctors, Good Morning America Health and hundreds of morning shows. Quotes from Suzy, as well as her articles, have also appeared in major publications including Woman’s Day, Reader’s Digest, OK Magazine!, First for Women, Fitness, Natural Health and Better Homes & Garden and dozens more.
Read more from Suzy at suzyCohen.com
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