Magnesium Stearate, The Big Problem For Supplements

Chinese herbs | Pacific Herbs


We believe quality products should NOT have fillers. 


The dirty little secret of the supplement industry is:

a filler known as Magnesium Stearate.  Nearly every supplement contains it.



I often get questions about the most commonly found additives and filler, magnesium stearate.

Here's a few answers to the most common questions.


What is Magnesium Stearate?    A inactive filler, also known as magnesium salt,  used in most of the natural health supplements and herbal remedies on the market today. 


Where does Magnesium Stearate come from?  Magnesium Stearate is a bi-product of fatty acids, both animal and vegetable sources.  Stearic acid and calcium stearate are made by hydrogenating cottonseed or palm oil.  These fatty substances coat every particle of the nutrients, so the particles will flow rapidly.


Cottonseed oil has the highest content of pesticide residues of all commercial oils; cotton crops are heavily sprayed. In the hydrogenation process, the oil is subjected to high heat and pressure in the presence of a metal catalyst for several hours, creating a hydrogenated saturated fat. Hydrogenated vegetable fats contain altered molecules derived from fatty acids that may be toxic.


The metal catalyst used in the hydrogenation process may also contaminate the stearates produced (see Erasmus, Fats and Oils). While toxicity is one problem, decreased absorption is another.


In a study published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Technology, the percent dissolution for capsules after 20 minutes in solution went from 90% without stearates to 25% with stearates. This delays the absorption of nutrients. Individuals with impaired digestion may have particular difficulty absorbing nutrients coated with stearates.


Another problem with stearates: concentrated doses of stearic acid suppress the action of T-cells, a key component of the immune system. The article "Molecular basis for the immunosuppressive action of stearic acid on T cells" appeared in the journal Immumology in 1990. Thus, prolonged administering of magnesium stearate at a high dosage weakens the immune system over a period of time.


Why do companies use it?  Magnesium Stearate is used as a lubricant so ingredients in supplements and vitamins don't stick to the machinery during compression and mixing. When machines are working optimally, without clogging, production schedules and profitability can be controlled.   



Who regulates Magnesium Stearate?   The subcommittee of Codex Alimentarius, the world authority on international food standards  has regulated magnesium stearate as a food additive. NO  Exposure limits have been established for Magnesium Stearate by OSHA or ACGIH.


Are regulatons changing?   Yes, variouse committees on food additives are now looking for toxicity data on magnesium stearate.  Data has yet to be collected.

At the time of this writing, there is no clinical study data on how much magnesium stearate is too much and what constitutes a toxic load for human consumption.


Your healthiest choice is a herbal supplements and vitamin supplement without magnesium stearate.  Pacific Herbs uses no fillers or stearates in any of our products.   We package everything in air tight, moisture tight packets to preserve our natural herbal extracts and avoid the use of fillers, binders and other unnecessary chemical ingredients.