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I've read some discussion in the past about this additive not being the greatest, but never really found clear answer as to why its bad.

I ask because its found in almost all vitamin supplements and seems to be very hard to avoid.
 

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Stearic acid is a common fatty acid found in significant amounts in meat, poultry, fish, eggs, butter, grains, and milk products. Magnesium stearate is a white substance that has two equivalents of stearate and one magnesium cation. It is safe for human consumption. It is often used as a filling agent in the manufacture of supplement capsules. There is no evidence that small amounts of stearic acid are harmful. The studies below prove that stearic acid, even in moderate amounts, has not been shown to be harmful.
 

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Actually, Magnesium Stearate is not a filler in tablets and capsules but is a lubricant whose only function is to ensure that the tablet or capsule plug comes out of the dies that make them. Without it, the stress of compaction would "bond" the tablet to the die walls. Underlubricated tablets will literally screech out of the die, can break and will definitely also stick to the punch faces, ripping off the whole surface of the tablet.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers wish they didn't have to use it, because too much makes a tablet too soft, and also "Waterproofs" the tablet or capsule fill material. This can cause problems with the dissolution, so a lot of studies are done on each new formula trying to determine the minimum level that they can get away with. A typical level found in tablets would 0.25 - 1.5%, a bit less in capsules as the forces are lower in making the powder slugs that are filled into the shells.

The previous comments are exactly correct about it being a complex of metal ions (necessary nutrient) and stearate (fatty acid ester). It would be extremely safe if all of it was absorbed, but it is so water insoluble, I would be suprised if it even breaks down.

Sometimes you'll just see stearic acid instead of Mag Stearate. This is usually a very marginal technique and won't work with lots of formulas unless talc or silicon dioxide is added as well.

For my bonafides on this topic, I've been formulating and troubleshooting pharmaceuticals for 25 years :thumb:
 

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not harmful, but also not useful, and im sure is made of pigfat, its cheapest way, so my advice avoid it whenever you can...
 
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