Supplement manufacturers are happy to hear this as their growth now encompass herbs, vitamins, minerals, weight loss products and whole food supplements. The vitamin and wellness industry is now one of the fastest growing in the world. Estimates say in the U.S. 150 million people take dietary supplements.
However, not all supplements are created equal!
Some supplements contain such small amounts of active ingredients they should be called placeboes. Others contain nutrients that are difficult for our bodies to digest. There are supplements that contain GMO’s, titanium dioxide, artificial colors and other benign sounding ingredients including “MAGNESIUM STEARATE”.
Some of them are made using bio-unavailable nutrients that are difficult for our bodies to digest.
Others do contain legitimate nutrients, but in doses so minuscule that they might as well be water pills. Then there are the supplements, often manufactured by pharmaceutical companies that contain the real nasties such as GMOs, artificial colors, irradiated materials, titanium dioxide and a comparatively benign-sounding ingredient called “magnesium stearate.”
Magnesium stearate – not as innocent as it sounds.
Despite its name, magnesium stearate is not a dietary source of the essential macromineral magnesium. Rather, it is a simple salt that is created when a magnesium ion bonds to stearic acid, a long-chain fatty acid. The resulting compound is an effective lubricant, making it ideal for mass supplement manufacturing since it prevents capsules and tablets from sticking to each other. Magnesium stearate is so effective in this regard, in fact, that it is found in an estimated 90 percent of all vitamin supplements.
Unfortunately, studies have shown that there are good reasons to avoid supplements that contain magnesium stearate. For example, one study published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences found that drugs that were lubricated with magnesium stearate exhibited a decrease in dissolution rate compared to those lubricated with sodium stearyl fumarate, a water-based compound.
This result suggests that magnesium stearate could inhibit the nutrient absorption rate of dietary supplements. Another study published in Immunology found that stearic acid could suppress the activity of our natural killer cells, T cells, which could lead “to a loss of membrane potential and ultimately cell function and viability.”
Perhaps the biggest reason to avoid magnesium stearate, however, it is highly probable to be contaminated. The stearic acid from which the compound is made is usually sourced from hydrogenated cottonseed oil, which contains more pesticide residue than any other commercial oil (cotton crops are heavily sprayed and often genetically engineered as well). Moreover, the hydrogenation process is enormously damaging to the molecular structures of vegetable oils and causes them to become toxic to consume.
How can you identify high-quality health supplements?
Many of the best supplements are sold at your doctors or health practitioners office. Although sometimes more expensive than those at the big box store, the quality is certain to be assured.
Pacific Herbs does not use or need any fillers like Magnesium Stearate because we use packet packaging rather than pills and capsules. Packets are also an excellent way to reduce the amount of air and moisture exposure. By eliminating the plastic bottle we also keep our carbon footprint to a minimum.
Ultimately, the only way we can be sure that a supplement is high-quality is to read its label and ensure that magnesium stearate and other harmful additives are not listed. Generally speaking, whole food supplements in vegetable capsules are a better choice if you feel the need to pop a pill. Don’t forget many superfoods, such as Ginseng, Goji berries, Reishi mushrooms (available at www.PacHerbs.com) along with wheat grass, chlorella and spirulina, tend to be far better sources of nutrients than manufactured multivitamin supplements.
Your body recognizes and understands vitamins and minerals in whole foods. Ultimately, it is really more enjoyable to eat a whole apple than to pop a pill from the processed fruit.
(Reishi coffee and tea is another great addition for healthy lifestyles.)
Sources for this article include:
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