What Are the Possible Harmful Effects of Magnesium Stearate?


Quick Answer

Magnesium stearate is a substance used as an inactive ingredient in many medications and is generally recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, reports Drugs.com. Although some people believe that magnesium stearate has negative effects on the immune system or intestines, no good scientific evidence exists to support that claim.

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Magnesium stearate is approved by the FDA for use as an inactive ingredient in tablet, capsule and powder forms of medications, according to Drugs.com. The substance has lubricating properties, and helps to prevent ingredients from sticking to manufacturing equipment.

Some people claim that magnesium stearate may have negative effects on the immune system, reports nutritionist Chris Kresser. However, these claims are based on a study performed on cells from mice, which are very different from human cells. Kresser states that there is no reason to believe that this substance harms human immune cells. Other people also claim that magnesium stearate creates a harmful biofilm in the intestines, but no real evidence exists to support that claim either.

Some people may be allergic to magnesium stearate, indicates Dr. Ray Sahelian, but these allergies are rare. Dr. Sahelian emphasizes that many foods contain stearic acid, and are regularly consumed with no ill effects. The amount of stearic acid in supplements is also much smaller than the amount contained in common foods such as chocolate or cake.

Magnesium stearate may be very helpful in producing high-quality supplements with consistent doses, reports Wellness Resources. If supplement ingredients stick to equipment during the manufacturing process, active ingredients may not end up in the final product, meaning that stated dosage amounts may be incorrect. Magnesium stearate may also help to prevent ingredients in more complex formulas from sticking or clumping together, resulting in higher-quality products.

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