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Magnesium myth busting: Magnesium mini-series blog 3

Sunday March 10, 2019
Magnesium myth busting: Magnesium mini-series blog 3

In this small series of blogs we discuss the important role of magnesium in the body, the different types of magnesium available, common misunderstandings, 'clean label' magnesium and the different types of delivery method available.


In blog 1 we explored the different ways that magnesium is used in the body. In blog 2 we went on to discuss magnesium chelates and different absorption methods. Now we’re going to tackle some controversial ‘magnesium myths’…

With the popularity of magnesium supplementation, a wide of range of brands are vying for position, and so many myths have arisen around the bioavailability of each presentation.

Let’s talk about magnesium stearate; you may see this on a label and be misled into thinking this a beneficial source of magnesium, but this is far from the truth.

Chemical formula Mg(C18H35O2)2, magnesium stearate is often used as a filler or as a lubricant in the manufacture of pharmaceutical and vitamin tablets, capsules and powders, preventing ingredients from sticking to manufacturing equipment.

When produced by soap and hard water, magnesium stearate forms a white solid, widely known as ‘soap scum’ or ‘bath-tub rings’.

Magnesium stearate is a dry lubricant that is used as a flow agent to speed up and reduce costs in the production of food supplements.  It coats the ingredients as a water repelling compound that reduces the friction of the compounds when passing through the machines.  


It is created from two stearate molecules and one magnesium molecule to form a soap-like substance. Subsequently the compound inhibits solubility[6], and for this reason it is not recommended as a viable source of magnesium. 

Check the label of your food supplements carefully, many brands have two lists – one of actives and one that is the full legally-required list of all ingredients including the manufacturing aids and this is where confusion may occur with magnesium stearate wrongly assumed to be a bioactive form of magnesium.

By contrast, for the next blog in this series we will compare results of some studies into ‘Clean Label’ magnesium. 

Author: Jenny Carson is a Nutritional Practitioner and Technical Advisor at Viridian Nutrition. She holds a BSc honours degree in Nutritional Science and is currently studying for MRES in Public Health.

[6] Donald, S., 2013, Analysis of magnesium from magnesium stearate in pharmaceutical tablet formulations using hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography with nano quantity analyte detection, Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis, Vols 78–79;112-17

The information contained in this article is not intended to treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a health practitioner. Please consult a qualified health practitioner if you have a pre-existing health condition or are currently taking medication. Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet.


TAGS: Nutrition News and ViewsEnergy, Fatigue


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