Magnesium stearate is a magnesium salt, containing the stearic acid. Stearic acid can be found in the nature, and many things we eat contain it also. Dairy products, eggs, cocoa and coconut contain stearic acid, as well as meat, fish and poultry. It is considered to be very healthy fatty acid (if not hydrogenated). The oleic acid, which is actually a metabolite of stearic acid, is well known to be one of the best natural products to regulate blood cholesterol, especially to lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol.
This magnesium salt is the usual compound of many supplements, both vitamin and dietary. It is used as lubricant, to maintain the proper consistency of the mixture in the supplements and as anti-sticking component.
Why is Magnesium Stearate Used?
As lubricant, magnesium stearate prevents the sticking of many different components of the supplement mixture one to another and also sticking of the compounds to the machines used to manufacture these supplements. If there were no magnesium stearate present, there might be some problems with the doses and amounts of some components attached to the manufacture equipment. This could lead to improper doses and lower or no effects of the manufactured supplements.
Magnesium stearate is also used as the filler, flow agent and Diluents in the supplement mixtures. In the manufacturing process, it will ensure the proper consistency and form of all ingredients. It will also prevent potential losses of some substances, if they would stick to the machines.
Is It Harmful?
There are some debates over the magnesium stearate present in vitamin supplements. The cause for these debates was a study, which claimed that stearic acid in vitamin supplements can affect the person’s immune system.
Some scientists disagree with these claims, because there are no more studies that establish such connection, in fact, never before were saturated stearic acid reported to suppress the immune system of the human body.
Additionally, people daily use the food containing much higher doses of stearic acid than the dose of magnesium stearate used in vitamin supplements and no one was ever ill because of consummation of that food. In just one bar of a chocolate there are 5g of saturated fatty acids (including the stearic acid). Cocoa itself is even richer in this fatty acid, containing more than 10% of it. The amount of the stearic acid in other supplement may vary, but most of these tablets or capsules contain about 10 to 20mg of stearic acid per tablet/capsule.
So, one could conclude that the amount of stearic acid (from magnesium stearate) present in vitamin supplements is much smaller than the stearic acid we consummate through our everyday meals. Because of that, it shouldn’t represent any health issue, as long as the supplements are used according to the prescription.