Magnesium stearate is one of those products that gather much speculation in the supplement industry, and yet it keeps popping up on the ingredients’ list of most supplements as an additive. So, what does it really do that supplement manufacturers can’t seem to get rid of it, and does it really deserve the criticism it catches?
What is Vegetable Magnesium Stearate?
Magnesium stearate, the magnesium salt of stearic acid, is an additive, a flow agent used in pharmaceutical or supplement capsules and tablets. Stearic acid is saturated fat, while magnesium is an essential mineral. Both are nutritional substances and are naturally found in a variety of foods. Far from being harmful, they are in fact beneficial to human health. Vegetable magnesium stearate is mostly made from palm oil and is a standard for tablets. However, it can also be derived from purified cottonseed oil.
The Use of Vegetable Magnesium Stearate in Supplements
Magnesium Stearate in supplement tablets is used as a ‘flow agent’. It means that it prevents different supplement ingredients from sticking to each other and the blending and punching equipment. Adding a flow agent such as vegetable magnesium stearate is imperative for ensuring a homogenous blend of ingredients and a consistent dosage in each and every capsule or a tablet.
Despite the bad name additives such as vegetable magnesium stearate get in supplements, they are rather necessary and perform different crucial functions in supplement manufacturing. Not adding magnesium stearate or an alternative can even be detrimental to human health as capsules or tablets may not contain the prescribed dosage consistently.
Risks and Concerns Surrounding Magnesium Stearate
The leading concern for magnesium stearate is a study from 1990 which found that stearic acid can suppress immune function in T-cells of mice. But let’s not forget that human T-cells are different from those of mice in their ability to desaturate fatty acids. Human T-cells have the delta-9 desaturase enzyme required to convert stearic acid into oleic acid to avoid a toxic build-up. Another factor to consider is that the study was conducted by bathing the mouse T-cells in stearic acid. It is impossible to consume stearic acid in such humongous amounts through supplements.
The second concern is regarding the bioavailability of active ingredients in supplements containing vegetable magnesium stearate. Some people worry that magnesium stearate may inhibit the absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream. Studies have found that although magnesium stearate may slow down dissolution and absorption in some cases, it doesn’t affect the overall bioavailability of nutrients.
Another preposterous claim that often worries consumers is that magnesium stearate can form a biofilm in the intestines just as soaps containing calcium and magnesium stearates form soap scum in sinks and bathtubs. Needless to say that the gut environment is completely different than that of a bathroom. Human intestines have acids and enzymes that do not allow soap scum to accumulate. And soap scum is nothing like a biofilm. If anything, magnesium stearate can actually prevent the formation of biofilms.
Lastly, some consumers may be concerned about being allergic to magnesium stearate. It may be an extremely rare occurrence because magnesium stearate is abundantly found in a variety of everyday foods anyway. And those allergic to it should be more cautious of foods like eggs, beef, chicken, coconut oil, etc. that contain magnesium stearate in a much higher concentration.
Does BL Bio Lab use magnesium stearate in supplements?
Yes. And why not? As a matter of fact, the benefits of using magnesium stearate in supplements far outweigh the potential risks. Apart from ensuring a homogenous mixture of active ingredients and accurate, consistent dosage, magnesium stearate has several health benefits of its own. Magnesium, being an essential mineral, is crucial for more than 300 enzyme reactions occurring in the human body. Stearic acid is known to lower LDL cholesterol and improve heart function.
The R&D department at BL Bio Lab is dedicated to researching and investigating the supplement formulations and ingredients. No supplements manufactured at BL Bio Lab contain ingredients that have scientifically proven risks associated with them. Active ingredients, as well as additives, are thoroughly tested for safety, quality, and bioavailability before a product is rolled out. As a supplement business owner, rest assured that all supplements manufactured at BL Bio Lab containing magnesium stearate are safe and made using superior quality ingredients acquired fresh from different parts of the world.