A streamlined stack of supplements designed to meet your most critical needs - Adapt Naturals is now live. Learn more

Magnesium Stearate: 6 Supposed Dangers That Need Attention to Determine if It Is Harmful or Harmless


Last updated on

Reviewed by Laura Beth Schoenfeld, RD, MPH

One of the benefits of ancestral eating is that you avoid potentially harmful food additives like artificial colors, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and artificial sweeteners.

magnesium stearate
Magnesium stearate is commonly used in supplement manufacturing. iStock/PeopleImages

However, even on a Paleo diet, it can be hard to avoid some fillers, thickeners, and additives. In fact, many common Paleo foods contain more additives than their Neolithic counterparts. For instance, commercial nut milks and coconut milk often contain thickeners like gums or carrageenan, while your run-of-the-mill grocery store whole cow’s milk is additive-free.

In this series, I’ll review the science on some of the most common additives and let you know whether you should be concerned about consuming them. First up—magnesium stearate.

Is magnesium stearate a harmless additive or a dangerous chemical? Check out this article to find out. #magnesium #magnesiumstereate #foodadditives

What Is Magnesium Stearate?

Magnesium stearate is a salt that is produced when a magnesium ion bonds with two stearate molecules. Stearate is just the anion form of stearic acid. Stearic acid is a long-chain saturated fat that is abundant in beef, cocoa butter, coconut oil, and other natural foods. As I mentioned in my red meat article, it’s also the only long-chain saturated fat that scientists and medical practitioners agree doesn’t raise cholesterol levels, and doesn’t increase the risk of heart disease.

Uses and Function

Magnesium stearate is most commonly used in supplement manufacturing as a “flow agent,” which helps ensure that the equipment runs smoothly and the ingredients stay blended together in the correct proportions. It can also be found in some cosmetics.

Given the seemingly benign components of this additive, it’s a little surprising how controversial it is. There are a lot of misconceptions and inaccurate statements about it floating around the internet, and while I wouldn’t recommend consuming vats of the stuff (not that you’d want to), I think the concern over magnesium stearate is largely overblown.

What Are the Supposed Side Effects and Dangers, and Are They a Cause for Concern?

1. Effect on Immune Cells

One study that many people have used as evidence against magnesium stearate is a 1990 experiment entitled “Molecular basis for the immunosuppressive action of stearic acid on T cells.” This baffles me, and I suspect that anyone using this study to indict magnesium stearate hasn’t actually read it.

In the experiment, scientists isolated T cells and B cells from mice, put them in a Petri dish, and bathed them in a solution containing stearic acid (along with some other components). They observed that the T cells incorporated the stearic acid into their cell membrane, eventually destabilizing the membrane enough that the cell died.

First of all, this study has nothing to do with magnesium stearate. They just used the plain old stearic acid that you’d find in your beef, chocolate, or coconut oil, so this study could just as easily be used against those foods. If you’re going to be concerned about this study (which you shouldn’t be), you’d have much bigger sources of stearic acid to worry about than the magnesium stearate in your supplements.

Second, the study has nothing to do with stearic acid consumed in the diet. Under normal conditions, your T cells are not bathed in stearic acid, even if you consume superhuman amounts of coconut oil, tallow, and cocoa butter.

Finally, the researchers used T cells from mice, and in this case, the results cannot be applied to humans. The mouse cells incorporated stearic acid into their membranes because they lacked the ability to desaturate fatty acids. However, human T cells do have the ability to desaturate fatty acids, so even if you did bathe your T cells in stearic acid, they would be able to maintain their membrane function. (1)

In case you got lost, here’s a summary: this study has no relevance whatsoever to human consumption of magnesium stearate, I have no idea why the study is being referenced in this manner, and you shouldn’t be concerned about it.

2. Concerns about Pesticides and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

Another criticism is that because stearate is often derived from cottonseed oil, it can be contaminated with pesticides. Keep in mind that magnesium stearate is a highly purified substance, and goes through an intensive refining process before appearing in your supplements. So far, I haven’t come across any reports indicating that magnesium stearate retains substantial amounts of pesticide residue.

As for the concern that cottonseed oil is often genetically modified, the source of crude fat shouldn’t make a difference in the final form of the stearate. Stearic acid is an 18-carbon molecule with a specific chemical structure that will be the same whether the stearic acid is from a genetically modified cotton plant, a bar of Hershey’s chocolate, or a grass-fed rib eye steak.

3. Effect on Nutrient and Drug Absorption

Another criticism is that magnesium stearate might inhibit nutrient absorption. One in vitro study conducted in 2007 found that tablets containing magnesium stearate dissolved more slowly than tablets without magnesium stearate when placed in artificial gastric juice. (2) The study authors concluded that in vivo studies are needed to determine whether this finding has any practical significance. However, an earlier study found that although magnesium stearate increased the time it took for a drug to dissolve, it had no effect on overall bioavailability, as evidenced by blood levels of the drug in test subjects. (3) Further, another study found that levels of magnesium stearate didn’t affect tablet dissolution at all. (4)

All of this information indicates that although magnesium stearate might affect the rate of tablet dissolution in some circumstances, it doesn’t affect the overall bioavailability of the drug or supplement.

Like what you’re reading? Get my free newsletter, recipes, eBooks, product recommendations, and more!

4. Biofilms

I’ve seen this claim pop up in a few places around the internet, so I’ll address it briefly. Some critics of magnesium stearate claim that it can induce formation of harmful biofilms in the intestine. (Biofilms are immobile communities of bacteria that form when bacteria adhere to a surface and generate a polysaccharide matrix.) This assertion appears to be based on the fact that soap scum contains magnesium and calcium stearate, so they insist that just as soap scum creates film on your sink or shower, magnesium stearate creates film on your intestines.

It should be pretty obvious that the intestinal lumen is a vastly different environment from a shower door, but some people still seem to be concerned. Rest assured, there is no conceivable reason why this would take place, and I haven’t seen a single scientific article that even hints at this possibility.

5. Magnesium Stearate Allergy

A 2012 study entitled “Magnesium stearate: an underestimated allergen” reported on a 28-year-old woman who had an allergic reaction to magnesium stearate, resulting in hives. I’m very curious about this result, because an allergy to either magnesium or stearate seems highly unlikely, but unfortunately, I don’t have full-text access to that study. But, needless to say, if you develop hives (or another allergic response) after consuming magnesium stearate, you should probably avoid it in the future.

6. Magnesium Stearate in Cosmetics

Magnesium stearate has several uses in the cosmetics industry: it’s an anti-caking agent, a bulking agent, a colorant, and more. In the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, magnesium stearate is marked as “low hazard,” although it’s noted that limited data are available on this ingredient.

So, Is Magnesium Stearate Safe or Bad for You?

As a final note, a rat study determined that you’d have to take 2,500 mg of magnesium stearate per kilogram of body weight per day to start seeing toxic effects. (5) That means a 150-pound person would have to consume 170,000 mg per day, which is so far beyond any amount you would encounter in supplements that it’s a non-issue.

Overall, I haven’t found scientific evidence to substantiate the claims against magnesium stearate, and the small amounts found in supplements shouldn’t be a problem for the majority of the population.

Affiliate Disclosure
This website contains affiliate links, which means Chris may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. You will pay the same price for all products and services, and your purchase helps support Chris‘s ongoing research and work. Thanks for your support!


Join the conversation

  1. Thank you for addressing this issue. You are always so level-headed and I feel I can always trust your thoughts, research and opinions.Thank you so much.

  2. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!! I have been MOSTLY avoiding this additive but even so, there are some suppliments that I love that aren’t available from another manufacturer that contain magnesium stearate. Thank you for your level headed approach to research, I look forward to reading your research on the other additives! 🙂

  3. Great article! This is consistent with the research I’ve done on magnesium stearate too – although, I haven’t had the chance to write anything up on it. Thanks for all of the writing you do! Honestly, I have no idea how you have the time to do it, but I’m glad you do! I’ll make sure to send my clients/readers over to this great resource. Thanks!

  4. Thanks for this research and all the research you do. Magnesium stearate was on my list of things to research but you answered all my questions and provided me with some great studies and background. Thanks again!

  5. Could you make a comment or address if possible, the benefits and/or any contraindications of bathing in epsom salt? It appears to us to be beneficial, a couple of times a week, for muscle aches, pain, athletic exertion etc. I’d be grateful for your thoughts. Thank you

    • Stephanie,

      Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) has a fairly good safety record, when used externally.. If it works for you, you might consider using magnesium oil (mag chloride solution), which does not require the facility to soak, but I would discuss this with your personal health care provider…


  6. Hi,
    I think that the use of magnesium stearate as a flowing agent when producing supplements or drugs is purely a financial issue. Using it apparently prevents machines from clogging and makes the production faster and cheaper. I choose supplements without magnesium stearate because of this financial aspect. I believe companies who make a greater effort in not using any unnecessary ingredients probably have a higher standard in general. So I think it’s worth to pay a little more for a high quality product that will dissolve better when I use it. Of course, when you want to create a product with delayed release then I suppose magnesium stearate would be great for that.

    • I agree with you. I don’t want extra stuff in my supplements. Its obvious they can make the supplements without it so who needs it. I choose to use supplements made by companies that go to the extra mile to make them without extra unwanted additives, like you said they probably have a higher standards. Pure Encapsulation doesn’t use it either as well as some of the others mentioned above. I usually do a lot of searching to find what I need without additives but occasionally I cant find certain supplements without it so I take a few that do contain it but mostly not.

      • Hi Sylvia-

        Have you ever toured a manufacturing facility? Stearic acid is the most prevalent fatty acid in the entire plant and animal kingdom. So when it’s complexed the most widely used mineral in the body, magnesium, it’s suddenly bad? Flowing agents are a MUST in manufacturing. If you don’t use flowing agents, you’ll have inconsistent dosing and capsules won’t make a slug. Every manufacturer uses them. You can use MCT oil, fat soluble vitamin C (asc. palmitate), laureate or Stearate. Leucine too can be used. In all honestly, the type excipient used is commensurate with the physical properties of the material being encapsulated. Betaine for example is hard to work with. Any manufacturer that tells you they don’t use fillers is fibbing.

      • They still use a fat for flow. Look at every Pure label, they use palmitic acid instead of stearic acid (every product has 10-20 mg ascorbyl palmitate per dose). Blends don’t mix well and hard to make a slug if you don’t have fat. People still use it. They just list it in other ways (vitamin C claim).

  7. Thanks a lot for this, Chris. I had my doubts about how unsafe magnesium stearate it. I’ve found some quality products with the additive, and am glad I have one less thing to worry about. Excellent work as always!

    • It is possible to manufacture supplements without these binders and fillers, and companies like Klaire, Pure Encapsulations, etc. do that. But it costs more, and you’ll see that reflected in their prices.

      • They still use a fat for flow. Look at every Pure label, they use palmitic acid instead of stearic acid (every product has 10-20 mg ascorbyl palmitate per dose). Blends don’t mix well and hard to make a slug if you don’t have fat. People still use it. They just list it in other ways (vitamin C claim).

        • Mike, do you know what the source of the ascorbyl palmitate is? Also, would you think it’s overall a better choice than magnesium stearate?

  8. Thanks so much for a sensible even-keeled, non-alarmist approach to this article. With wild claims being made by so many, I’m grateful for this well-researched and written piece. Thanks!

    • “It should be pretty obvious that the intestinal lumen is a vastly different environment from a shower door…”

      — Absolutely classic. I could not agree more, Norma.

  9. You are right, it may not be that big of an issue. But it is becoming easier to purchase supplements without magnesium stearate, as many “food-based” products are on the market. The consumer may pay a little extra, but the quality is generally better (MegaFood comes to mind).

    Thanks for keeping up with the research!

  10. Thank you for this item. The magnesium stearate issue just does not seem to go away. Misinformation travels fast and is hard to overcome. I am much more concerned with items like di-calcium phosphate, microcrystalline cellulose and carrageenan. Hope you also review the safety of titanium dioxide, which I understand is also a relatively safe item used in supplements.

    • Yes, regarding microcrystalline cellulose there was an issue with Eltroxin (levothyroxine) a few years ago when they changed the formula in New Zealand. The doctors are still denying it (hysterical) but the Pharmacy took the issue very seriously after 1300 notifications vs only 5 and 9 for the rival brands and conducted their own study. Absorbtion was delayed and reduced.


      • Talc has also been added in the ingredients list so perhaps that caused the adverse reaction?

  11. Thanks for addressing this, Chris. I remember that the issue of magnesium stearate came up in my Nutritional Therapy training program. Gray Graham did a presentation for our class about Biotics Research supplements (because they were the sponsor of the training program), and he had basically the same view you have on magnesium stearate, although he didn’t go into as much detail. But I remember him saying that based on the studies available, you would have to eat an insane amount to get any toxic effect. Of course, he works for Biotics, so I didn’t want to take what he said as definite fact. And then you have folks like Dr. Ron, who claim that it’s a toxic substance, but of course he is also using that claim as a selling point for his supplements, which don’t contain magnesium stearate. I always figured it was no big deal, because magnesium is obviously fine and so is stearic acid, so why would they present a problem when bonded together? Thanks again.

    • Laurel,

      Two (or more) “non-toxic” substances can combine to create a toxic substance…. there are numerous examples in organic chemistry… and “toxicity” can be a misleading term, as ANY chemical compound can be “toxic” to humans at sufficient dosage.

    • Exactly, Mr Paleo! The most screaming example is the three simple elements, hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen. The first you drink in large quantities in every drop of water, the second you eat more of in every food than any other element, the third, you breath in, four times as much of as oxygen in ever breath, but one of each atom combined as a simple molecule of HCN and you have one of the most toxic substances known – hydrogen cyanide!

  12. I appreciate your addressing this issue as I was concerned and I do believe I got the initial concern from Dr. Mercola’s website. I do have quite a few supplements that contain magnesium stearate and have been hesitant to take them. I shall no longer worry. I will anxiously await your report on carrageenan as I love coconut and nut milks but am not loving the additives.

    • I have only found one brand of coconut milk that only contains coconut and water. I would prefer to get it full fat, but I’m happy that it contains NO carrageenan. Since the cost is inexpensive, I usually use about 3/4 of the can. If you don’t shake it first, the last portion is the water and you can toss it if desired.
      The brand is Trader Joe’s light coconut milk, with the green and black label. On the downside, the can does appear to have a plastic film liner and doesn’t state that it is BPA-free, so it probably is not BPA-free, unfortunately.

      • Diana, You may be happy to learn Trader Joe’s is somewhat tuned in to the issue of BPA and has been working to create BPA free cans for its beans – and now most are. In fact, I was there tonite, I asked them about it — and the baked beans are now BPA free.
        If you go to their site and voice your concerns as an interested consumer, and let them know what you want that helps build a fire under them to respond to consumer requests.
        JUST THINK — If we ALL took a couple minutes to communicate out concerns to those who supply our food products — how powerful an effect we would have!

        • You are aware however that Trader Joe’s refuses to confirm in writing that their corn, even the organic corn, is GMO-free.

          They also seal their frozen fish in plastic wrap and have labels on them that say to take them out of that plastic wrap before defrosting the fish in the refridgerator. Why is that I wonder? They’ve never been able to answer that question…

      • “Natural Value” brand makes full-fat coconut milk, no additives, and uses BPA-free cans. To my knowledge, there’s only one store in Los Angeles that carries it, so you’d have to go exploring wherever you are.

  13. The supplements in my clinic are usually free of this. If you take lots of supplements, remember there’s 15 times more Stearate in 15 pills than in one! We sell a lot of Premier Research Labs, Pure Encapsulations and Supreme Nutrition to avoid it.

    • I will avoid it with sensitive patients, but even taking 100 pills a day wouldn’t get you close to a level that causes harm—as I mentioned in the article.

      • My twin sister has been seriously allergic to Magnesium Stearate for years, first discovered when she developed mouth sores after taking Dramamine. This weekend she developed a stomach bug that is going around and was prescribed Ondancetron for nausea – same reaction. I went out for Benadryl. Unfortunately that also contains Magnesium Stearate and, as I write, her arms are swollen, red and burning as are her upper legs as a result. My next step is to visit a health food store with a medical aisle to see if there are any antihistamines that do not contain MS. Yes, she is in the tiny percentage of those allergic but there is no question that she is.

  14. I read an article where Dr. Mercola stated that magnesium stearate is very annoying ingredient and it may interfere with active ingredient and may reduce the bioavailability of that ingredient. I got so worried and checked all my supplements and to my horror almost every supplement contains that ingredient. But I cannot afford to stop them and at the same time, I could not find a product that does not contain that magnesium stearate…so I continued taking my supplements with a concern in my mind :(. Now, after reading your article…I feel super happy and I pledged myself not to read Dr. Mercola’s blogs again. 😀

    • Suresh,

      No one is infallible… Dr. Mercola is one of the most dedicated physicians out there… and his site has a tremendous amount of valuable information… “don’t cut your nose of to spite your face” !!!

      • There are lot of controversies on Dr. Mercola’s theories…one of them is…magnesium stearate is harmful…

        • Suresh,

          (LOL) Anyone who has ever been at the forefront of functional medicine has been considered “controversial”. If you think that Chris isn’t controversial, think again…. and “theories” are just that, theories… no one is perfect, not even Chris…. or me…. or you….

        • Dr. Mercola is a self promoting nut job. He is all about promoting his products and makes claims like the ones involving Magnesium Stearate in order to do this. It only took me a few hours reading his stuff before I realized this. Because I research everything thoroughly, I still read what he has to say, but find that most of it is just self promoting garbage.

          • Mercola may be self promoting, and he may be out there on a few things, but he gives away a lot more than he sells.

            He is only a nut job to those who are looking for a middle of the road approach, but being a pioneer in anything has the potential to get you labeled a “nut job”.

            • Brad,

              The problem is that Mercola has tons of information posted, some of which is helpful, but unless one educates oneself it is easy to not know the truth from the falsehoods. I used to defend Mercola for the same reason you posted, but as I became a more educated consumer I became more and more disturbed by the outright falsehoods found throughout the information he “gives away.” I will try to remember where it was posted, but someone actually spent a lot of time on his site and enumerated the true and false statements, as well as the misleading ones. I never take anyone at their word, so I did a lot of fact-checking, and found the author was accurate in every case I checked. The two highest profile Dr.s I have ever heard of are both dispensing false information about supplements. Dr. Mercola and Dr. Oz.

      • I’d take EVERYTHING questionable that Dr. Mercola posts with two two grains of sale, except then I’d have a way too high sodium intake.

        A classic self-promoting, product-pushing pimp, who happens to leaven enough accurate info among his nostrums to make his mongering sound plausible.

        And not that all the products on his site are awful (tho’ I’m not paying $130 for a 90 day supply of a “whole food multi-vitamin” when I can get virtually the same product from a trusted source for much less), rather the issue is that the site’s goal (IMO) is much more your wallet than your unbiased education on matters of health, nutrition, supplementation, etc..

        I’m much more impressed with this site’s common-sense, more truly science-based approach – with open forums where Chris’ assertions can be questioned, fleshed out and debated – and where he takes the time to participate IN the forums as well.

        • Hi James,
          I’ve been evaluating supplements by comparing opinions from sites like this and Mercola. Could you give more specifics about areas where you think Mercola is mis-guided? I also started evaluating his products and The People’s Chemist. My feeling is that these guys are at least trying to provide supplements that they believe in, (although their pricing is really high), but are not as misleading as the bigger public vitamin/supplement companies who allow more dangerous ingredients and poorer quality in their products.

          My intent is not to discredit but to find the truth and better yet, where to get the best supplements that really promote health! So my question is — what are the primary resources you use from a research perspective in evaluating these products, and who sells the best products for the best price?

          • Consumer Reports did a study of what’s actually in supplements sold by a number of “natural” brands – including pricey ones sold in health food stores and others. This was some years ago, btw.

            The company I’ve been buying from from for several decades, is Puritan’s Pride (online and catalog sales). They also produces under other brand names – often for re-sale in other outlets – so one of the largest with the greatest “economies of scale.”

            The company came out to be closer to what’s stated on their labels than nearly all of the others – while often charging a fraction of what the “prestige” and “boutique” brands ask.

            In general, I’m a belt and suspenders guy. I read what the mainstream press/web science guys are saying – the Web MD’s, MSN healths and others – and also graze many of the natural oriented sites (focusing on those who publish more and sell less or no products themselves – lessening the inherent conflict of interest that hangs over the Dr. Mercolas of the world).

            And keep studying nutrition in general. There are many great sites.

            So the larger the mental (and other) databases of info you have for context, the more you can begin to make sense out of all the claims running around out there – but understand the state of knowledge will continue to evolve at a fairly rapid pace, even about the things that have been accepted wisdom for centuries or longer.

            Also one site/publication that’s even more conservative about this than I – the Nutrition Action Newsletter put out by the Center for Science in the Public interest is an excellent resource.

            I don’t want to post links here – but the info here is easily “googleable” – except maybe the CR Report since it’s older. I have the hard copy stored in another state, so can’t cite it here.

            And I’ll grant that Dr. Mercola may not be entirely motivated by his bottom line, but I saw him on a national TV show last week saying a few things I know were ridiculous on their face.

    • you may try the one which comes as powder, they usually are free of Magnesium Stearate

  15. Hi,

    You write about Magnesium Stearate above.. I take Magnesium Citrate.. I once read that it will help with constipation. I do have that. (1) Is there anything wrong with Magnesium Citrate ? (2) What is the best Paleo Solution for constipation. I would like not to have that anymore

    I signed up to hear when your new book will be available, so I look forward to that

    • Glenn,

      There are several ways to deal with constipation, but it would come down to WHAT is causing your constipation… vegetable juicing and coconut oil are two simple ways that would be of benefit regardless of the cause of your constipation….

      • Ok. good point.
        I eat veggies (salads and cooked veggies -> broccolisk Cauliflower, squase, carrod…..raw veggie, carrot, celery, pepper, cucumber, tomatoe, cilantro….. my protein sources in order of eaten, chicken breast, salmon, walnuts, sour cream). Now would you please be able to inform what is the food causing the constripation ? This has been very helpful !

        cc: Allysa.. I will check the site for input. thanks much also !
        Thanks Much.

        • If you take calcium supplements and or consume milk products daily (consume calcium in excess of magnesium), too much calcium can cause issues such as constipation and calcium build-up in the body. I mean, one can consume too much calcium in milk products alone and then taking calcium supplements on top of that would cause magnesium to be deficient and constipation results. Magnesium deficiency causes huge problems (goggle magnesium deficiency symptoms/health problems) and since calcium and magnesium work together, too much calcium will make one deficient in magnesium.

          • Alice,

            Yes, that is one possibility, but there are many potential causes that will create a magnesium imbalance, such as excessive potassium, etc.

    • Hey Glenn! Chris has a lot of info about constipation and magnesium on his site already, so I’d recommend looking at some of his past articles and podcast transcripts. You could always search the site for ‘constipation,’ but since the search function on his website doesn’t always work that well, you could also google ‘constipation chris kresser.’

      Here are a couple to get you started: http://chriskresser.com/overcoming-low-stomach-acid-asthma-and-night-time-depression
      http://chriskresser.com/the-healthy-skeptic-podcast-episode-12 (in this one he mentions that magnesium citrate isn’t really the best choice; magnesium glycinate is better)

    • Glenn, I got great relief from constipation adding Magnesium Glycinate and probiotics (both on Chris’ suggestion). Make sure you get the one that says Glycinate.

  16. Hi Chris, my naturopath had warned me about selecting supplements with magnesium stearate and this has caused me a lot of grief as so many supplements do contain it. I was worried maybe I was doing more harm than good in taking these supplements so this is a bit of a relief to know that it’s safer than I thought. Thanks for sharing!

    • Don’t change everything about your life just because one guy tells you one thing or another, and I wouldn’t take this article at face value.

        • Chris backs up everything he says with copious research. I found that 95% of the reputable sources regarding Magnesium Stearate came to the same conclusions So, in this case I will certify that you can take this article at face value. (that being said, it is still good advice to do your research before accepting the advice of a single source)

    • In her book “Primal Body,Primal Mind” Ms Gedgaudas at p. 317 regards Magnesium Stearate as an unnecessary additive as well as a toxic excipient.
      Another Supplement additive often found in vitamins and possibly with carcinogenic effects on humans is Titanium Dioxide(p.317).
      Thus, read labels carefully, especially other ingredients, and whenever possible avoid these and other additives until long term studies on humans prove them safe.

    • Hey Chris! Every time I take herbs or vitamins in pills or powder form I break out in eczema all around my lips. When I take raw herbs and liquid tinctures and liquid supplements like floradix my mouth doesn’t break out. I am definitely reacting to something in the pills and powders and I believe it could be the magensium stearate or stearic acid. Every pill and powder that breaks me out has one of those listed in the ingredients. By the way, I’m a student at AIMC Berkeley and have been following you since my nutrition teacher required us to subscribe to your newsletter. Thanks for keeping us informed!

      • Carmen,

        You could try a test to see if it might be stearic acid, by just eating a tiny bit of cocoa butter or shea butter . Both are mainly composed of a triglyceride made up partly of stearic acid. I stongly suspect that there may be some free stearic acid in them both, but I don’t know for sure.

        If you get any similar reaction from these it might corroborate your suspicions if not it would probably suggest it is not the stearic acid.

    • As a Cardiac RN, I would have to say no. Low magnesium levels would be of far greater concern. If mag levels go too high, they are excreted via the gastrointestinal tract.

    • I believe YES!!
      I have been in an out of the hospital with tachycardia in excess of 200bpm. Without any good explanation I have been keeping track of everything I have been around. This last episode after returning from the doctors I have taken stock of everything I had taken in recent days. I purchased the typical generic ibuprofen, ant-acids, and other sundries but I bought them at a different store. A few days later a began feeling fatigued and finally breathless feeling, Heart rate was 155 so I took xanax, that I was prescribed but rarely ever take. I felt better but symptoms were still there just less concerning the following day I was feeling really bad, resting heart rate of 160bpm took more xanax and called doctor, he said come in. I did and took another half xanax and a couple ibuprofen for headache. When I arrived at the doctors I was feeling much better and a lot less concerned. When the doctor began to exam me I noticed he was really listening to my hear and promptly ordered up ecg my heart rate was romping 189 and I felt no anxiety just tired, of course I had a couple mg’s of xanax in me which I am not used to, so I was feeling happy. Anyway I have been dealing with this on and off for 2 years. My average resting heart rate over the 2 years was 110bpm. After all this I went home on beta blockers and began to investigate everything I ate drank was around and I could only find one common thread. Magnesium stearate was in the ant-acids, ibuprofen, and even in the xanax. All of which I picked up 3 days prior from a different store than I normally frequent, and NO it was not in the old ant-acids, or ibuprofen. So yeah I am currently pointing the finger towards magnesium stearate. Its a frightening thing dealing with something the doctors have no idea why its happening. I was one of those guys that never thought twice about an allergy or any reactions to anything.

      • Let me see if I have this straight. You claim to have been having heart troubles. After a doctor’s visit you then claim you decided to go home and check medications you claim came from a different source than usual and they contained magnesium stearate. You do not indicate whether or not the previous medications contained magnesium stearate but it seems we are supposed to assume by the exclusion of it’s mention. You then claim to have made the connection to magnesium stearate as the guilty party and came to a web page that talks about how magnesium stearate is harmless. …and you want us to believe this entire thread actually happened by chance. I’m sorry, but this is all to scripted for me. I believe NO! Because I am pointing my finger at the fact you are making this up to make up for your poor health, poor exercise habits and bad eating habits.

        • LOL
          I’m sorry if my story has offended you. Yes I eat fast food and other garbage, I’m 5’10” 170lbs and Look quite fit. I did comment that it was NOT in my previous meds. I don’t know for sure what is causing my health issues but if it was eating fast food and drinking soda I believe it would be an epidemic in America. When my problem first reared its head 2 years ago, and I came to believe it was the magnesium stearate I researched the web for info, and found little to none!! I was looking again and found this article and thought I would post my story and maybe if I am right, and someone else is having problems they could read my story and feel a little less alone. I had a follow up appointment yesterday and a mountain of blood work and was told I’m perfectly healthy. Being that there is no test for magnesium stearate sensitivity you can only try to avoid it and see what results come of it.

          • Mark,
            I, too, have reactions to magnesium stearate and I believe to other forms of magnesium supplementation as well. For me, I noticed over the course of a few years that any time I consumed any type of multivitamin or protein drink or other supplements to try to stay healthy I usually ended up feeling poorly. The worst was when I took a calcium/magnesium supplement and one time I took a large dose which landed me in the hospital. I started feeling over all just really awful so I called my doctor who said “Oh, I think you should just try to calm down. You are probably just anxious about something”. I hung up the phone, still very worried, knowing that the doctor was wrong. When evening arrived I told my husband, “I need to go to the hospital – I don’t feel like I’m going to make it through the night!”. At the hospital they ran and ekg and all sorts of tests and then admitted me because there was something in the results which looked like I had had a heart attack. After that they took a blood sample which showed that I had not had a heart attack. A few weeks after that I did a stress test at the cardiologist which showed a perfectly healthy heart. At the time I was a 39 year old female (still am female :), 5’2″ and 130 lbs.
            I can attest that it is possible to have reactions to magenesium stearate. Recently I took an antibiotic and a probiotic to balance it out which BOTH had magnesium stearate in them. I realized this after feeling poorly for several days while taking them which prompted me to look carefully at the labels. I discontinued using them both immediately and quickly felt better. Hope this somehow helps your understanding of your own story. I’m sure it’s not in your head – many doctors often just like to say that it is when they don’t really know what’s wrong. It’s frustrating.

            • It’s more likely where it comes from, not that it’s an acid. I’m having to trim my vitamin supply due to them being made from palm oils. I can’t have coconut and therefore palm oil.

            • You had a reaction while you were taking antibiotics and thought it must be the magnesium stearate? Your logic is undeniable.

            • Magnesium stearate has made me sick for years they sneak this cap into a lot of products.if and when I am exposed to it I cannot urinate for at least two days I break out and I am just sick.now I use Gummi vitamins and I read the labels very carefully. I guess the doctor who posted that there is nothing wrong with magnesium stearate is not allergic to it or is getting paid off by the manufacturers. The only reason this product is used is so the manufacturers can make more money. .I would love to pour a glass of bleach down the throat of the person who says it’s not harmful

              • Rus:

                There is nothing wrong with disagreeing with someone in a forum. I appreciate hearing anecdotal evidence that may one day lead to studies that will prove or disprove whether your malady is actually related to Magnesium Stearate.

                I highly object to horrible statements like: “I would love to pour a glass of bleach down the throat of the person who says it’s not harmful.” That kind of inflammatory remark is totally inappropriate and disgusting.

                You further your trolling by accusing those who disagree with you of being paid off by the manufacturers.

                In the months this forum has been active I have come to see that there are a few rational people who might very well be able to adequately show that they have a health problem that can be linked to Magnesium Stearate. Sadly there are many more who destroy any chance of credibility with hysterics, wild stories and trolling behavior.

                You have quite obviously not even read Chris’s article, let alone followed the educational threads found throughout this forum. Please take the time to do so before posting again… please.

            • Yes…Laura, I would totally take your emotions towards the Supplements Seriously..

              Doctor told me to take Bifidom (good bacteria) in the morning,,,

              well…,the darn supplements gave Agents..and I lose APETITE if I take supplements before food ESPECIALLY in the morning.
              so…after taking Bifidom for 3 months…I decided to stop!!! And after 1 week,, I. Started feeling my STOMACH again….its like the bulking agents and Anti caking agents have lost their grip on my intestines!!!

              ofcourse…thats the Large intestine…which is nit the SMALL…so AGENT FREE- supplements are the way to go:((….tthe question is, where you find them????

              hope I brought some light to this topic.

            • Dear Laura –

              I take high doses of Niacin (the flushing kind.) I decided to save money and bought a big bottle of tablets and got really sick every time I would take one. They were filled with about six other ingredients. including magnesium stearate. I just felt shakey, clammy, nauseaus and low blood sugary (which I can see how those symptoms would make someone feel like they might be having a heart attack), for lack of a better way to put it.

              I figured I was getting used to a higher dose again of Niacin. However, the flushing symptoms went away but not this incredibly toxic sick feeling. I did not have this with more pure capsules of Niacin that are more expensive. I have returned that big bottle.

              I am very sensitive to chemicals or additives as I have CFS. This experience was good though in that it caused me to now pay attention to what is in certain vitamins and not to buy only the purest possible. I take an organic liquid daily vitamin and mineral supplement.

              Sometimes I just don’t feel intuitive good about these tablet type supplements and now I know why.

              • P.S. But then again, there are other ingredients on that bottle I mentioned that are scarier sounding. Magnesium stearate is in many vitamins that boast good quality. Maybe it is the other things in cheaper vitamins that are bad – digestible plastics, food dyes, etc.

            • Laura, I’m not doubting your allergy(s). Far be it from me that I judge whether or not you have them. One of the tests for allergies would be a skin test. Another would be to measure the presence of IgE antibodies. Another is to perform RAST tests. They don’t really do RASTs anymore. I’m sure if the medical staff were concerned about such a common element, such as Mg or Ca, they would have tested for it, as these minerals are bountiful in many food sources. You were kept in the hospital, probably overnight, because any sort of symptom that can, even remotely, seem like a likely heart attack is admitted to the hospital for testing and observation. Why? The reason is threefold.
              1) For your well being and longevity. You went to them for help and they will do everything in their power to make sure that you are not going to die anytime soon.
              2) Cardiac problems, or the mere hint of a problem is a money maker. Cardiac tests are expensive. They will do every test known to man in order to reap the benefits via the billing dept. Each and every time. You say “Chest pain” or “Heart racing” and they say “Cha-ching. Cha-ching” and BAM! you’re admitted.
              3) Lawsuit prevention. People will sue for an ingrown nasal hair after their stomach was pumped because of a self harm attempt. A cardiac stress test, alone, can cost an out patient uninsured patient upwards of $5,000. Although, the average cost is about $1,000. Can you imagine the cost as an in-patient? It can cost up to $33,000 or more Even if the hospital gets “stiffed” on the bill, the overall cost would be a fraction of a law suit settlement. Which can be millions depending on the claim.
              How do I know all of this? I know it some ;] I was an ER RN. I’ve been a nurse for 25 years. I’ve also worked in dialysis and taught nursing.

          • My husband had cardiac arrhythmias for several years. He had several ambulance trips to the hospital. No medication seemed to work long term. 2 years ago, we retired to the South of France, he cleaned up his eating, began a gentle exercise programme, lost 18kg, and now has not had an attack for over 18months. I believe gluten to be the main culprit.
            You must treat food as medicine. Eating junk food, which stays fresh for years, and is loaded with chemicals. Is more likely to be the reason for your heart problems.

          • yes, you have hit on the issue…eating junk food IS an epidemic for America…they consume it at epidemic proportions and obesity is the nation’s biggest (pardon the pun) health problem…but obesity is first, and foremost, a spiritual problem…please visit my website: http://www.hbhm.org

            • I’m sorry, but the obesity epidemic has NOTHING to do with religion and everything to do with our foods being more chemicals than real food combined with a sedentary lifestyle.

              • Some Religions do teach about and encourage good eating habits. Some religions call gluttony a sin and others encourage putting only high quality foods into our bodies, to name a few examples. However, I do agree that this epidemic might not remember good eating habits taught and encouraged throughout history.
                The eating of so many processed foods containing so many chemicals forces our bodies to compensate, and after a while, damage is done to every system. Good nutrition is a major factor but avoiding the harmful chemicals is another.

          • I am anil from India I have a similar problem called tachycardia. I have overcome this problem by rigorously exercise my heart beat used to trigger to 250 b/m and I was even to be taken for a surgery, I refuted the plan and decided to exercise .now it’s seven years and I havent experienced an episode so far. I use supplants and the bcca capsule what I take has magneaium sterate I strongly feel systematic exercise will eliminate the problem u have

        • @ Leander
          Try rereading what Mark said when he DID state that the previous meds did NOT have the stearate in them..

          “Magnesium stearate was in the ant-acids, ibuprofen, and even in the xanax. All of which I picked up 3 days prior from a different store than I normally frequent, and NO it was not in the old ant-acids, or ibuprofen. So yeah I am currently pointing the finger towards magnesium stearate.”

          • It might be true, but it is also true there is no way to make tablets and capsules without using the magnesium stearate, since it is used to help the machines not glop and the flow of the vitamin powders and such to be evenly distributed. So, besides having a problem, come up with a solution. There is always going to be someone who is allergic to something, hey, I am allergic to the hormones they give the cattle, almost killed me, but do you see it being taken out, or most people even caring how bad it is for you. nope

            • I beg to differ. There are manufacturers out there that make their supplements without magnesium stearate, talc or any toxic tag-a-longs. You will have to pay more to get them. One I know personally let the encapsulation machine sit for a year until it was figured out how to use it without the Mag Stearate or talc. Tip: avoid tablet formulations. stick to liquids, powders or capsules.

              • Cherri, you are exactly right. I try to find the supplements without mag stearate in them. Which is not always easy. Capsules seems to be the best bet but some companies just have to use it in everything.

                GNC has many products without it in them. Though for some odd reason, they like using titanium dioxide. Why would anyone care if their supplement were bright white.

              • I just make my own vitamins & supplements using powdered fruit, powdered vegetables, MSM, powdered herbs, etc. I put them into empty capsules. I have my own little capsule making machine. I don’t have to worry about any additives or toxins. Just make your own. Get the book “How to make your own vitamins & supplements.”

      • Mark, your tachycardia should be checked out by a Cardiologist but more importantly a Cardiac Electrophysiologist. I had that too for 15 years as a young adult and regular doctors told me I was just having panic attacks…wrong. It was extra electrical circuits in the heart that can be fixed.

      • Check your vitamins, capsules and tablet. They have magnesium stearate. I had severe irregular heartbeats, skipped beats, weakness in my heart. I eliminated all my supplements that had this poison in them. And guess what the symptoms disappeared. I have had these problems for years, been to doctor after doctor, hospital emergency rooms wasting thousands of dollars to be told its all in my head. Also, MSG does the same thing to me. Several months ago I started a food journal and recorded everything I consumed. All processed foods have msg disguised under names, natural flavor, spices, anything hydrolized. Contact me for more information if you have any questions.

        • I agree with you, after taking probióticos with magnesium stearate, me and my 4yold boy started with the dame simptoms you describe, my 4yold boy has a ver y healty diet as he has food allergy, so i think that it si about magnesium stearate. i have no doubt. But the issue is still there. What to do now, how can i contact you?

        • I have been having heart irregularities and a vibration sensation. It turned out to be from MSG. But mostly cut it out of my diet. Until, now there is modified corn starch and maltodextrin that also contain MSG. These attacks started all over again, until I discovered this new vehicle for MSG. Hope you all can figure out which chemical is causing your troubles. Many food items also have heavy metals in them, you may need to look into that.

          • I have read that in phrases such as “modified corn starch and maltodextrin”, “modified” is code for “genetically modified”.

            If that is true, and you are as concerned about the health effects of GMO as I and many others are, you would probably be wise to avoid products containing “modified corn starch and maltodextrin” for that reason alone.

      • I had the same effects from it. My doctor even went as far as testing me for Rheumatoid Arthritis. After about five days of taking over the counter stomach acid reducer, I felt like I was getting the Flu. Deep muscle aches, joint pain, and fatigue. After not taking the medicine for a few days, I would start to feel better. I even experimented by starting again, same effects after just a few days.

      • You should look into the effects of ibuprofen. Studies are now showing chronic consumption is linked to an increased incidence of cardiovascular events. Also avoid taking Zithromycin if you are prone to tachycardia. I know it is contra indicated with Afib. The pharm companies make sure that it continues to be a well kept secret. All the best.

        • Dr. G, totally agreed. There was actually a study showing that 19g of stearic acid per day had cardiovascular benefits. One thing Chris Kesser forgot to mention in his article (which I thought was very well written and a breath of fresh air, by the way) is that stearic acid is a component of all living cell membranes, in both animals and plants. So it is in every natural food. Sorry people, but your health problems are most certainly not caused by this benign ingredient!

      • I read your comment with interest. First, I have no health insurance, so I have to be super careful and take care of my health. Which I believe I have done since I’m now 53 and havent needed to go to the hospital for some 10 years now. I have A-Fib and being a chronic condition it has been steadily getting worse, nothing too awful, but once in awhile some scary episodes. So, I’m taking liquid vitex for some female issues, the stuff works great, I run out and buy vitex in pill form which contains ONLY the vitex herb and magnesium stearate, 12 hrs later after taking 3 pills that morning and 3 at noon… my heart goes in and out of a-fib for the next 5 days. It took me 2 days to realize it was the pills that was aggravating my heart. What the hay?!!!!! I stopped taking the pills and my heart calmed down. What is this stuff? and why does it effect the heart in such a scary way???

        • Gaby, it is far more likely your a-fib was aggravated by the vitex than by the magnesium stearate, since the amount of mag stearate you would get in that supplement would be a tiny fraction of what your daily intake is from other foods.
          Another possibility is that your supplement contains ingredients not listed on the label, which is extremely common in the supplement world (unfortunately).

            • Sam, they do. Unfortunately though, it’s not well enforced. Full disclosure: I work for a supplement manufacturer. We are extremely diligent at producing high quality supplements, and listing all ingredients on labels. One thing that is fairly common among raw material suppliers is that they will claim a material to be free from excipients, when it really isn’t. We have gotten very good at pressing suppliers for details, and have even invested in technologies that allow us to test for excipients that are difficult to test for. This has led us to discover that many suppliers have not disclosed all ingredients to us. We know that many other manufacturers do not have the extensive research teams that we do (to investigate these sorts of things), nor do they invest in the testing to look for hidden excipients. These companies probably don’t even know that there are excipients in their own products that they fail to declare on their labels. In a few cases, we even know of a few companies that use the same materials from the same suppliers that we do, but they do not list the same excipients on their labels that we know are in their products.

        • Vitex, especially considering the amount you took, has a few common side effects such as rapid heart beat, dry mouth, nausea and headache. You mentioned that you switched from liquid Vitex to Vitex in tablet form. In general tabs provide a higher dosage of the substance.

      • It would be wise to get your heart thoroughly checked. Also investigate hiatal hernia as a cause of tachycardia. With the combo meds and the reason you take those meds I think there is a very good chance the combo aggravated an existing hiatal hernia.

      • Mark,
        I know it’s a year later, but:
        Has your doctor checked your thyroid functioning? Or your adrenal gland functioning? Or your pituitary gland functioning? Or, all three. A hyperactive thyroid can, and will, cause an increased heart rate (HR) Overactive adrenal glands, induced by stress, can cause an increased HR. A faulty pituitary gland can be sending the wrong signals to these glands. All can be tested with simple blood tests. If the adrenals are in question, they may do a 24 hour urine test as well.

    • I am a diabetic and have had several hernias. I also have a pacemaker. Would this be detrimental for me to take a supplement from uncorked? I am trying to lose weight and I was hoping this would help me by detoxing.
      Kathie Russo