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Avoid magnesium stearate in supplements if possible

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Magnesium stearate is widely used as an excipient in supplements, dietfood for medical purposes and drugs, because machines compressing tablets run more smooth if magnesium starate is added to tablets. Basically this thus has nothing to do with our body but all with the industriel proces of making tablets. We will give an example of two supplements, and bring arguments why one should chose the supplement devoid of magnesium stearate.


Magnesium stearate is the base of the Normast tablets, and many people have asked in the past why does Normast which contains the natural and body-own protective fatty compound palmitoylethanolamide, also contains such an unatural fat as magnesium stearate?

In the table both supplements are compared. Normast contains magnesium stearate and a number of other excipients which have no use of the organism, but are only put in based for pharmaceutical and technical reasons for instance, to be able to press tablets more quickly. Therefore the purity of palmitoylethanolamide in each tablet or capsule is 30% lower in Normast compared to PeaPure, which does not contain any excipients. But now the science why magnesium stearate is not such a good idea in foodsupplements.

Magnesium stearate as a unnatural undigestable fat 


Magnesium stearate is a body-foreign fat and can be compared with grinded kandle-wax, whcih is not digestable for our digestive system. We are thus poading our system with magnesium stearate just because it is easier to compress tablets and the machines producing these tablets can produce more tablets each minute if magnesium stearate is used. A bit odd. 

So this unnatural fat enters our digestive system, and we do not have any enzymes to get rid of it. It stays in our digective system till we ppop it out. Meanwhile it makes the availabliity of palmitoylethanolamide less optimal, as it most probably forms a fatty impenetrable layer around the palmitoylethanolamide. This has now been shown to be the case for an other natural molecule, predisone. This could be seen via electro-microscopy, we will speak of it in the next chapter.


Scientific evidence pleading against magnesium stearate 

Scientific evidence pleading again magnesium stearate
Increasingly there is scientific evidence pointing out that magnesium starate, especially mixed with other fatty molecules or with drugs can alter the rate with which the drug or the supplement comes availabel for our body.

Basically if you coat a supplement or a drug in magnesium stearate you are making it more difficult for the body to access the supplement or drug.

Recently, in a lead scientific atrticle on pharmaceutical excipients, it was pointed out that in solid pharmaceutical formulations, magnesium stearate, which is widely used as a so called hydrophobic lubricant, is considered to cause certain manufacturing problems, such as reduction in tablet hardness [1], prolonged disintegration time [2,3], and retarded drug dissolution [4–6].

A prolonged disintegration time and a decreased tensile strength and all these aspects are clearly seen as disadvantages of Magnesium stearate.
Chowhan and Chi [7] reported that when Magnesium stearate was mixed with micronized prednisone, a body-own hormone, and a second excipient for 30 min, this prolonged mixing resulted in a decrease in the dissolution rate, and the adhesion of Magnsium starate flakes to the drug particles as a hydrophobic coating was observed using scanning electron microscope (SEM) analysis.

This coating compromises the availability of the body-own hormone prednison.
The coating of magnesium stearate has also been seen in a different experiment.

Shibata et al. [8] clarified the mechanism underlying the negative effects of Magnesium stearate concentration on the dissolution rate of drugs using Scanning Electron Microscopy. When even a very small concentration of magnesium stearate, 0.5%, was mixed with glass beads as model supplement or drug particles, a thin impenetrable film of magnesium stearate was formed on the surface of the glass beads.

According to other reports, the formation of these impenetrable films of Magnesium stearate on the surface of micronized drug or supplement particles can also reduce the so called surface wettability. This subsequently reduces not only water penetration into a tablet but also contact between drug and our digestive juices [5], consequently resulting in a decrease in the surface area that directly contacts with the environment in our digestive tract and a thus decrease the drug dissolution rate. 

Health specialist Dr Mercola against magnesium stearate 

Health Guru Dr Mercola vehemently against magnesium stearate
One of the leading health guru’s in the USA, the medical doctor Mercola has a whole news issue on the hazards of magnesium stearate in supplements, and we qoute him:

It’s common knowledge that drugs, vitamins or supplements contain more than just the active ingredient. Something has to encapsulate them―hold them together―in a form that not only makes them usable, but producible by a manufacturer in massive quantities.
In the U.S. many supplement makers are adding “flow agents” into their capsules.

Their only purpose is to keep ingredients from sticking to equipment during mixing and compression. They make manufacturing faster and easier, but it’s not impossible to produce the final product without them. Not using them simply adds to manufacturing costs and final sales price of the product, but there is clearly no reason this ingredient is added for consumer benefit.

Magnesium stearate is a commonly used and potentially harmful additive found in many supplements. This is a substance I have warned about for a long time because of its subtle ability to cause possible harm to your intestine, possibly even preventing the proper absorption of nutrients.

Potentially Harmful Effects of Magnesium Stearate

Magnesium stearate is formed by adding a magnesium ion to stearic acid. The compound has lubricating properties, which is why it’s often used in the making of supplements, as it allows the machinery to run faster and smoother, and prevents the pills or capsules from sticking to each other.

However, previous research has shown that stearic acid suppresses T cells—your natural killer cells—which are a key component of your immune systemi. According to that study, stearic acid causes the collapse of cell membrane integrity—an effect that was found to be time and dose dependent—which, ultimately, can destroy cell function.

In my view, if you’re taking a supplement, making sure it’s a high quality, natural food-based supplement that does not include potentially harmful fillers and additives such as magnesium stearate.
There are now signs that magnesium stearate might indeed be banned from supplements, and we again quote

As recently explained in the featured article, magnesium stearate might be on the verge of getting axed from supplements altogether, which probably would not be a bad thing; at least from a health perspective.

During the March 2010 session of the Codex Committee on Food Additives (CCFA), it was recommended that “magnesium salts of fatty acids” (ie magnesium stearate) be deleted from the Codex, as it has no known use in food….. … and …
for companies that already operate without magnesium stearate,

it’s just proof that they’ve been right all along.
Eliminating this component from the product equates to slightly higher manufacturing costs, as the machines cannot run as fast and hence cannot produce as much on any given day. But I believe the increase in cost is well worth it.

It’s really important to me to first do no harm, and to take the extra precautions to ensure the products sold on this site are of the highest quality and purity possible. 

This is one of the main reasons to select supplements not containing any magnesium stearate: we do not need it in our system and it is of no use to our biology at all…it is just a burden and has many disadvantages, as pointed out.

Many data related to the disadvantages of magnesium stearate in supplements and drugs are discussed in the main source of the above mentioned data:

Takeaki Uchimoto et al. A comparative study of glycerin fatty acid ester and magnesium stearate on the dissolution of acetaminophen tablets using the analysis of available surface area. European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics 78 (2011) 492–498

Further references on the disadvantage of magnesium stearate

[1] W.A. Strickland Jr., E. Nelson, L.W. Busse, T. Higuchi, The physics of tablet compression. IX. Fundamental aspects of tablet lubrication, J. Am. Pharm. Assoc. Am. Pharm. (Baltim) 45 (1956) 51–55.

[2] O.K. Udeala, J.O. Onyechi, S.I. Agu, Preliminary evaluation of dika fat, a new tablet lubricant, J. Pharm. Pharmacol. 32 (1980) 6–9.

[3] L.E. Flores, R.L. Arellano, J.J.D. Esquivel, Lubricant susceptibility of cellactose and Avicel PH-200: a quantitative relationship, Drug Dev. Ind. Pharm. 26 (2000) 297–305.

[4] G. Levy, R.H. Gumtow, Effect of certain tablet formulation factors on dissolution rate of the active ingredient III. Tablet lubricants, J. Pharm. Sci. 52 (1963) 1139–1144.

[5] K.S. Murthy, J.C. Samyn, Effect of shear mixing on in vitro drug release of capsule formulations containing lubricants, J. Pharm. Sci. 66 (1977) 1215– 1219.

[6] S.J. Homg, S.K. Kim, Effect of formulation factors on dissolution rate of nitrofurantoin tablet, Soul Taehakkyo Yakhak Nonmunjip 10 (1985) 25–38.

[7] Z.T. Chowhan, L.H. Chi, Drug-excipient interactions resulting from powder mixing. III: solid state properties and their effect on drug dissolution, J. Pharm. Sci. 75 (1986) 534–541.

[8] D. Shibata, Y. Shimada, Y. Yonezawa, H. Sunada, N. Otomo, K. Kasahara, Application and evaluation of sucrose fatty acid esters as lubricants in the
production of pharmaceuticals, J. Pharm. Sci. Technol. Jpn. 62 (2002) 133–145. 


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