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Vegetable stearate, another name for magnesium stearate, is a natural form of magnesium found in plants. It is mainly used in the pharmaceutical business to bind certain elements of pills together.
This substance is also used as a lubricant. Manufacturers of nutritional supplements use vegetable stearate in their machinery to make it easier to put powder into capsules.
Stearic acid and magnesium are the main components of vegetable stearate. Magnesium is a common mineral necessary for a healthy diet.
Magnesium improves memory and learning and is involved with bone growth. A magnesium deficiency can have very serious consequences.
Stearic acid is a fatty acid that is in many of the foods we eat on a regular basis, such as butter, animal fat and shortening. It is found in topical products like cocoa butter, palm oil and coconut oil.
Vegetable stearate is a white powder that feels greasy and does not dissolve in water.
Vegetable stearate is an important component in the production of nutritional supplements. Vegetable stearate is added to pills so they don’t stick to each other or to the machines that are used to make them.
The food industry uses vegetable stearate, in combination with other components, to bind certain ingredients together. Beef contains a much higher amount of a pure form of stearic acid than is found in pills made with vegetable stearate.
Some hard candy and formulas for babies also have vegetable stearate in them.
Manufacturers in the cosmetic industry use vegetable stearate for much the same reasons. They use the binding element to make sure the ingredients in cosmetics don’t separate. The fact that vegetable stearate is a lubricant makes some cosmetics easier to apply.
Some companies argue that vegetable stearate poses health risks. They contend that vegetable stearate can accumulate in your body, raise your fat intake, lower your immunity and cause many other problems.
The companies that spread this misinformation are usually those that make products without vegetable stearate and are trying to get more business. These companies base their claims on studies that are inconclusive or so specific that they don’t have general practicality.
There are two kinds of fat: saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats, or trans fats, are found in meats and dairy products and are bad for you because they clog your arteries and raise levels of bad cholesterol (LDL).
Many vegetable oils contain unsaturated fat, which send saturated fat to the liver to get rid of it and thus increase your levels of good cholesterol (HDL).
Many companies claim that vegetable stearate contains saturated fat. Since stearic acid is a fatty acid, vegetable stearate does have some fat in it. But vegetable stearate is made from various oils and so has unsaturated fat.
Another common misconception is that it can be harmful to your health if levels of vegetable stearate build up over time. Your body naturally makes stearic acid as part of its process to convert carbohydrates into fats.
Because vegetable stearate is a derivative of stearic acid, it is unlikely that prolonged consumption of it could pose any health problems. In addition, if there is excess vegetable stearate in the body, the liver has no problem getting rid of it.
Some scientific studies show that the effects of stearic acid and compounds made with it can suppress the immune system. In one study done on rats, the stearic acid lowered their general immunity.
However, the amount of stearic acid consumed by the rats equaled about a quarter of their body weight. Humans would never ingest that much vegetable stearate.
A study done on humans showed that stearic acid had an effect on their immune systems, but it was so minor that scientists aren’t concerned. Instead of affecting the entire immune systems as with the rats, stearic acid only attacks T-cells that are isolated.
Since there is no overall effect on human immune systems, this is not a reason to be wary of vegetable stearate.
The Food and Drug Administration states that vegetable stearate has no harmful effects. The FDA recommends 2,500mg of vegetable stearate as a safe daily maximum; most people ingest only 300mg per day.
The FDA lists vegetable stearate as generally regarded as safe (GRAS). Eating an unhealthy diet with processed foods and too many calories is a much more concerning problem than consuming vegetable stearate.
Vegetable stearate is very prevalent and its components are either necessary for your health, or not harmful. It seems like people shouldn’t be concerned with monitoring their consumption of it.
There is no real evidence to support the claims that vegetable stearate poses a health risk, and the FDA deems it’s safe.
If you want to find out more about vegetable stearate, use the supplement finder now!