By Dr. Mercola It’s common knowledge that 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. Magnesium stearate is a commonly used and potentially harmful additive found in many supplements. This substance may possible harm to your intestine, possibly even preventing the proper absorption of nutrients.

Magnesium stearate is synthesized using magnesium salt and Stearic Acid – saturated fat. Stearic Acid may occur naturally in many foods, but it does not occur in the synthetic, fractionated, bleached, deodorized form that commercial. Stearic Acid Synthetic ingredients are NOT recognized as food by the body and can, therefore, cause both short-term and long-term cumulative health issues for those who consume it on a regular basis from supplements.

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, prevents the pills or capsules from sticking to each other, and also reduce the production cost.

However, previous research has shown that stearic acid suppresses T cells your natural killer cells; which are a key component of your immune system. 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.

If taking a supplement, make sure it’s a high quality, natural food-based supplement that does not include potentially harmful fillers and additives such as magnesium stearate.

Contamination Issues

Another issue that has been raised in relation to magnesium stearate is the fact that the stearate is commonly sourced from hydrogenated oils such as cottonseed oil. This crop is oftentimes genetically engineered, but even when it’s not, cottonseed oil tends to have very high levels of pesticide residues. Other contamination can also occur during the manufacturing process of the magnesium stearate.

According to a December 2011 report by the World Health Organization (WHO), several batches of magnesium stearate manufactured by Ferro Corporation were found to contain various levels of harmful contaminants such as: Calcium hydroxide: aka “slaked lime,” which is considered toxic, according to the National Institutes of Health Bisphenol-A: a toxic chemical and potent endocrine disrupter Irganox 1010: a “moderately hazardous” chemical with potential developmental toxicity, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The cross contamination was determined to be due to incomplete cleaning of air milling equipment introduced into the Ohio Ferro plant in February that same year. Granted, this is not a chronic problem, as far as I know, but it just goes to show how easily contamination can occur in general. Identify High-Quality Multi-Vitamin Supplements. Use independent third party labs that check the raw materials for contaminants and correct dosage. Follows industry standards for quality assurance including ISO 9001, ISO 17025 and Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP) certifications.

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