magnesium stearate in supplements bad for you ?

I was shocked by Mercola's article about magnesium stearate. I checked my supplements and it is in : my multi, C vitamin (NOW), msm, lactoferrin and melatonin.
I have put them all away on the attic. I ordered C vitamin in powder form and wrote a letter to the pharmacy to ask if they can make the melatonin without magnesium stearate.

Edited July 13, 2012 at 2:24 am

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23 replies. Join the discussion

Fear sells. Nowhere in Dr. Mercola's article does is state at what concentration does magnesium stearate cause "bio-film" or suppress immune function. One part in a billion? Our bodies have evolved to survive exposure to all sorts of contaminants in our environment. We all are aware that x-radiation can be harmful, yet our bodies are constantly being bathed in a sea of ionizing x-radiation every day, some of it coming from our own bodies (a small amount of potassium in our bodies is naturally radioactive, as is some of the carbon (carbon-14), etc. You cannot escape the cosmic radiation coming from the stars and sun. Yet we can and have survived for millions of years with low levels of radiation. Would you refuse to take the radiation dose of a mammogram? Is the risk of harm greater than the risk of not finding a tumor until it becomes palpable and too late?
If you swallowed a whole bottle of aspirin all at once it would likely kill you, but does that mean that someone with heart disease shouldn't take a baby aspirin a day to prevent their next heart attack because aspirin can kill you? It isn't the substance, but the concentration of the substance that is important.

How much magnesium stearate is actually in a few capsules of pills a day? Before you throw out your hard earned money on supplements (that you have been taking for years and are stiil here posting and haven't noticed any side effects), you may want to do a little more research. It may turn out that the vitamin C in your pill is more than adequate to offset the effect of the stearate.
If you bath immune cells in too much of anything, including vitamins, they can be adversely affected.

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Thank you dxaguru,

It is true that I panicked. I tried to find info on the harmful dose, but did not succeed.
I hoped that posting here would help. I understand that you also don't know what dose per day can be harmful.
I agree that fear sells.
It could be that here in Europe they use more magnesium stearate. I did not see it on my Life Extension products.

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I used to like Dr. Mercola; now i think he is just over the top alot of the time.

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Hi penelopee, thank you for posting this.

I had magnesium stearate in many of my supplements too and Mercolas article did sound frightening.
After looking around and reading articles & looking at videos where people say; ”this is bad” or ”not dangerous at all”,
I almost gave up – who to trust?

I have finally decided to trust this:
” The findings by Sondergaard et al over 25 years ago showed that magnesium stearate was nontoxic at a level of 2,500 mg/kg/day for oral ingestion. This finding applies to the heart, brain lungs, bone marrow, liver spleen, etc., as well as immune system cells such as T cells and B cells. ….To place this number in context, the amount of magnesium stearate in a 1000 mg capsule typically is not more than 10 mg. A typical, health-conscious user of dietary supplements would have to consume more than 1,450 capsules per day to reach this level.”

This above was a quote from a long post/reply in Life Extensions blog. It is also stated in the post that LE use magnesium stearate in some of their products.

At the moment I can’t see that consumer.lab is warning about magnesium stearate either - So I will keep on taking my supplements that contain magnesium stearate. /Lela

If someone is interested I also found this article about ”The role of lubricants in solid oral dosage manufacturing” n-solid-oral-dosage-manufacturing.html

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Hi Lela,

How good of you to look for and find all this info. Thank you.

I still cannot belief that Mercola writes pure nonsense. That would be too bad for his reputation.
I also wonder if there can be a built up of this magnesium stearate in the intestines over time.
I decided that I will stop taking supplements with this stuff for a week and then make a new decision.

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Thank you Lela, you have reassured me. I didn't stop my supplements, but was alarmed when I read the Mercola article.

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I don't believe in Dr Mercola. I believe in being my own doctor. Eat food that is designed for your body as in Genesis 1:29,30. Eat food that is grown by nature not tampered by man.

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Suggest reading the 'comments' section after that Mercola article - he was fairly roasted in some of the comments... I still think Mercola is OK though agree that he sometimes goes right over the top. This being one of those instances. But who knows what might not be revealed in time!

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I think that Dr. Mercola is simply making a point for us to think about. I looked at my supplements and then went onto sites to see which ones I could get without Magnesium Stearate. i figure that by reducing the amount of the substance, I am safer, period. What amazed me is finding out that it is used because it is cheaper. I was glad to see that my Shaklee vitamins do not have the substance in them. I like the constant research that Shaklee does and have found that when I go with a cheaper company, I often do not have as good an effect, such as with my joint relief supplements. I guess sometimes cheaper is not the same.

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Hey, I just came across this subject regarding Magnesium Stearate and quickly checked my Magnesium to rule it out. I got these from Life Extension and when I order Magnesium, I always order Magnesium Citrate as I understand that it is absorbable by our body. No sense taking a vitamin that your body does not absorb. I also try to stick with Calcium Citrate rather than the other forms for the same reason. All I know is without Magnesium I am totally constipated. I take three 160mg each day. It also has an affect on your heart rhythm; another reason why I take it.

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This discussion isn't regarding what type of Magnesium to take but what the manufacturers put in as small amounts in our supplements (all of them) as fillers/lubricants. You can often find this on your supplements under the head line "other ingredients". Magnesium stearate is one of them and it has been stated by some that Magnesium stearate is not good for us. Others seem to disagree. /Lela

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Hi again Shirley, is this the Magnesium you take? urce=search&key=magnesium%20citrat
On supplement fact it says Other ingredients: gelatin, vegetable stearate.
I don't know the difference between Vegetable stearate and Magnesium stearate but I found that someone had asked Life extension about it in their blog and one of their employees answered "In Life Extension's case, they changed the name on the label from magnesium stearate to vegetable stearate to more accurately reflect the natural source."
So that sounds to me as it is magnesium stearate coming from vegetables? Did I understand that correct - anyone who knows?
I have a supplement that says Other ingredients: vegetarian magnesium stearate - I guess that is the same thing ??

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Hi Lela,

The reply from Dr. Ben is helpful to me. Pls see excerpt below:

Regarding vegetable stearates, there are various forms of magnesium stearates, which are:
• Magnesium stearate
• Vegetable stearate
• Stearic acid
• Potentially others

The stearates and stearic acid encircle the powdered nutrients allowing them to slide.

To me, the issue is that magnesium stearate, in any of its forms, is used simply to lubricate the manufacturer’s machines. A fat is a fat is a fat. Magnesium stearate = vegetable stearate = stearic acid.
… Thus, I think that vegetable stearate is still an unfavorable ingredient to have in any supplement or vitamin.

If the goal is to enhance the health of the individual, then companies should not use stearates. There are other ‘flow agents’ that do not impede absorption or are actually beneficial to the individual. These are the ‘flow agents’ I prefer: amino acids, cellulose, sand (as silicon dioxide) …”

A couple of years ago, an article explained the switch for some mfg to go to vegetable source "... Because of the recent increase in the threat of bovine diseases such as mad cow disease, foot and mouth disease and others, many magnesium stearate manufacturers are switching over from a bovine-derived version to a vegetable derived version of magnesium stearate...." What was interesting was that it "pointed out that one-half bar of milk chocolate has around 112 calories and has 1,283 mg of stearic acid, which is much more than is found in pharmaceutical tablets."

We should still try to minimize taking Mag. stearate, but shouldn't be too stressed over it.

Hope this helps,

> Sylvia < < < < <

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Lela & Sylvia,

I am learning more and more each day. Lela, you are correct, that is the magnesium citrate from Life Extension that I am taking and it does have a very small amount of vegetable stearate listed in "Other ingredients."

Thanks Sylvia for posting the remarks by the doctor. Now I learned something new and will check my bar of chocolate to see how much stearate it has and if vegetable or animal. Seems like we have to be vigilant all the time and read the fine print.

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Hi Shirley

I also take the LEF Mag. Citrate, as well as many of their products, e.g. Bone Restore, Bone Strength, Vit. D3, etc. My hubby also takes the Mineral formula for men, etc. They all contain vegetable stearate. I believe that LEF offers good quality products. Their Mix doesn't seem to contain stearate.

However, some of my supplements do not contain Mag. stearate, e.g. Throne Mk4 liquid, Vit. D3 gels, etc. I recently received a sample of Vitamin Code Raw whole food multi and the label said vegetable cellulose.

According to Byron Richards's article The Facts on Magnesium Stearate, "when used properly magnesium stearate assists in making a uniform and better quality product."

btw, I checked the chocolate bars in the house (5 different brands), and none of them listed stearate as ingredient. This is probably since the stearate is part of the cocoa. Excerpt from "The Facts...":

“10% - 12% of cocoa is fatty acids of stearic acid, one of the richest sources of stearic acid in the food supply. It is easy to get 5 grams of stearic acid (5,000 mg) by eating a bar of chocolate. By comparison, a dietary supplement capsule product typically contains between 1% - 2% stearic acid or 10 mg - 20 mg of stearic acid per capsule, or 1000 mg to 2000 mg per bottle (20% - 40% of a chocolate bar for the entire bottle).
Stearic acid is also a common fatty acid found in meat, poultry, fish, grains, eggs, butter, and milk products. In meat, it is 1/3 of the saturated fat. The average intake of dietary stearic acid in American women is 5700 milligrams a day and in men 8400 milligrams a day. ..."

A Longevity article Health Benefits of Chocolate by Mark Stibich, Ph.D. said:

"... The fats in chocolate are 1/3 oleic acid, 1/3 stearic acid and 1/3 palmitic acid:
• Oleic Acid is a healthy monounsaturated fat that is also found in olive oil.
• Stearic Acid is a saturated fat but one which research is shows has a neutral effect on cholesterol.
• Palmitic Acid is also a saturated fat, one which raises cholesterol and heart disease risk.
That means only 1/3 of the fat in dark chocolate is bad for you. ..."

We can enjoy our chocolate and not be stressed over Mag. Stearate.

> Sylvia < < < < <

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Mercola’s assertion that stearic acid suppresses T cells is based on one in vitro (Latin: in glass) study of mice T-cells dosed with no stearic acid or 60, 120 or 180 micromolar stearic acid. (I looked up the original study.)

The effect of small quantities of stearic acid on the T cells of living human beings is untested, and, therefore, unknown. That fact did not stop Mercola from making his claims. The authors of the study Mercola referenced would be appalled to know their research is being used for totally unsubstantiated claims.

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Thank you BoneLady,

I gather from your post and from this whole thread that there is no clear reason not to take my supplements with magnesium stereate.

It is all confusing. Why would Mercola ( or his staff) do this ?

I understood that the m.s. is also a lot in the coconut oil I use. My doctor told me that it would be good for me. ( but what does he know ?)

I wonder if the micromolar stearic acid, in your post is the same as m.s. Also: how much stearic acid will there be around our T cells, with average food and supplements ?

I guess I studied the wrong subject in university.

I will keep on smiling.


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Magnesium stearate and/or stearic acid are in several of my supplements, also. These are commonly used to make tablets, but are sometimes found in capsules as well. I am continuing with my supplements because I have been on most of them for years, and they have not caused me any problems that I am aware of.

You should always read labels, however, especially if you are allergic or sensitive to certain substances. If you develop a rash, for example, from magnesium stearate and/or stearic acid, then you should avoid all products with these substances.

Magnesium stearate is a salt containing two equivalents of stearate (the anion of stearic acid) and one magnesium cation (Mg2+).

The term “micromolar” in my previous post refers to the concentration of stearic acid in a volume of mixture. In chemistry, the molar concentration is defined as the amount of a constituent divided by the volume of the mixture. Micromolar means 10 to the minus 3 mole divided by cubic meters.

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I generally like Dr Mercola as usually he puts out pretty good, useful Health INFO. However, he appears to have MISLEAD you regarding Magnesium Stearate. The Bottom Line is that Magnesium Stearate is perfectly safe in the levels used in your vitamins. Here is what someone much more qualified than Dr Mercola to address that subject has to say about it (Byron J. Richards, a Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist with extensive training in Biochemistry)...

The Facts on Magnesium Stearate (refer to link below): arate/

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