Magnesium Stearate, Maltodextrin and More

IMG_1917 (2)What a difference a week makes. Last Sunday, my writing day, was as beautiful a day as one could special order if that were possible. Today it is pouring rain and if you look closely, distressing as that is to do, you can see some white crystalline objects mixed in. Urgh! Oh well, I shall not complain. I have a new kitchen faucet being installed and the workman (aka Spousal Unit) does not need to be tempted out-of-doors by an Indian Summer day.

I can report that THE project has only just begun and already he feels like he is in the midst of a “reality show where you are working against a time clock” because some thingamajig is leaking constantly and he needs to be done asap. The sighs are audible and frequent and I predict a slight meltdown at some point.

Yup, I think this weather is just the ticket and by the end of the day I will have a new faucet installed that hopefully will work.

This week on Facebook

As you undoubtedly know by now I have a Facebook page called, what else, Krisinsight. This week a friend of mine asked me about supplements I take and had I ever thought about the supplements working against each other? Another member of Krisinsight had the correct answer “Yes, of course.” I have tried many supplements over the years and I worry or wonder about each and every one. I was comforted long ago by my then functional medicine doctor, Robert Bruley. I told him I had a pantry full of supplements and he confided that he and his wife did too.

While that seems like a lot what also made me feel better was he and his wife had their blood tested all the time to check the effects of these supplements and they basically saw good results or they quit taking them. Some lowered homocysteine levels or CRP levels and others showed positive results in lowering liver enzymes. All in all, the supplements they took showed positive results and, to me, that was comforting and reassuring.

Spectracell results

Dr. Bruley was a big proponent of Life Extension formulas and I started taking several of their supplements at that time (2007 or thereabouts). I also took some others like Dibencozide and methylcobalamin all of which had fillers and additives but were recommended by my thyroid group.

Around this same time I heard a discussion between Dr. Mercola and a Dr. Klinghardt regarding a micro-film that might form from using supplements with stearates. Also Russell Blaylock wrote a book called “Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills” and I read it around the same time. One common filler is maltodextrin, an excitotoxin due to the way it is manufactured. Then going gluten-free  added new challenges to anything with additives and fillers. Even additives listed as “natural flavors” could contain gluten. Crikey! It was all becoming too, too difficult.

Then the coup d’grâce for the use of additives and fillers was my Spectracell test I had done in late 2011. Until this time I had taken the above listed supplements and one called “Anti-Alcohol Antioxidants” in addition to others that contained a full spectrum of antioxidants, CoQ10, selenium and zinc, not to mention up to 10,000 mcg of B12 sublingually every day.

In my blog from that time I wrote the following:

Vitamin B12, Selenium, Inositol, Zinc,  CoQ10 and my Spectrox (comprehensive antioxidants) were all listed as deficient. Why is this troublesome? B12 is often noted to be low in people who have dementia and a B12 deficiency actually mimics Alzheimer’s Disease.Selenium deficiencies are rare (the SU says he already knew I was weird) but can contribute to hypothyroidism. Inositol levels must be optimum to assure healthy brain function and even healthy hair growth. Zinc is a common deficiency and most often noted by white spots appearing in the nail bed but it also can lead to excess hair loss. CoQ10 is essential for healthy breasts and heart. As for antioxidants they are our life blood as necessary as the air we breathe.

What would you conclude?

Knowing you were taking all the nutrients that you have just tested low in what would you do? Also knowing that you, or, in this case, I, have a history of dementia in the family as well as heart disease, what would you surmise from these results? The facts were I was already taking more antioxidants and vitamins than the lab recommended in their prescription to improve my levels that were below acceptable levels. My overall low antioxidant level was really distressing to me given the supplements I was taking. Even though Dr. Bruley told me he was quite impressed with how many nutrients (like Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, etc.)  were at or above average levels the things that were below average bothered me considerably.

With some enlightenment thanks to my Spectracell test,  I started looking very carefully at supplements that have fillers and additives as the words of Dr. Mercola and Dr. Klinghardt (Klinghardt as been somewhat discredited at the time this is posted in his Lyme Disease work and Chris Kresser just posted this article) rang in my head.

That doesn’t mean I never take a supplement that has stearates or rice powder but it does mean I don’t like them and would prefer no additives or fillers. I don’t see the reason for them and I have contacted a number of companies about adding them unnecessarily only to be rebuffed.

Ignore me and thousands of others if you want but the fact remains additives  and fillers are really not necessary they aid in the manufacturing process and they make supplements unnecessarily large (only a problem if you have a dry mouth as so many thyroid patients do).

Krisinsight

In answer to my friend’s question, I think about the supplements I take and when they don’t work I quit taking them. I have been particularly fond of the formulas that Life Extension puts together but I don’t like their use of rice powder, maltodextrin and stearates. Also if you take a formula of assorted nutrients how do you know what is working and what isn’t? What if one thing actually would make you feel better but mixing it with other things is making you sick? Thus, I try to take single ingredient supplements until I know the effect each ingredient will have but again don’t hold me to these words as I can think of several formulations I take right now.

I, as you know, use very few scientific studies to prove my unique observations. My personal experience is what Krisinsight is all about. You can take it for what it is, one person’s experience with her health and use it accordingly. My experience has taught me that taking supplements with additives and fillers apparently did disrupt the absorption of these nutrients.

This poor absorption issue may have something to do with my hypothyroidism as a person afflicted with hypothyroidism may tend to have absorption issues, aka leaky gut. Especially for others, like me, who might have absorption issues avoiding fillers and additives may be something to consider. For instance, if you are low in B12, it might be a good idea to talk to your physician about methylcobalamin injections as even sublingual B12 may not be helping you increase your levels.

As for the aforementioned faucet project. I can happily report that my faucet has been installed and long before I have finished writing. Yea! I guess the profane words stayed firmly stuck inside the installer’s brain because I heard nothing other than the original “reality show” comment and several sighs. I asked him about this and he told me sometimes thinking them makes you feel just as good as voicing them. I am married to a truly gentle man and I am grateful. The new faucet is lovely and nary a drip falls after two years of a faucet that was “fixed” but dripped profusely. Now if the weather would quit dripping all would be well.

Santé,

Kris

4 responses to this post.

  1. “If I understood how additives and fillers positively affect our supplements I would feel more positive about paying less.” Fair enough. The answer’s out there we ought to be able to find it.

    Reply

    • Chris Kresser started the research recently and, of course, defended magnesium stearate and said Mercola’s argument is based on incomplete facts. I am not convinced given my experience that Mercola and Klinghardt are wrong but I am up for the research. If you find anything that actually points to positive effects of additives and fillers please share them with us and I will do the same. Thanks Josiah.

      Reply

  2. Kris I know that this issue is very important to you and the results of your Spectracell test is certainly an eye opener. I still find it hard to believe that an institution like Life Extension which takes absorption issues very seriously would not have discovered the fact that non active additives in their capsules actually hinder absorption. You say that you wrote several supplement companies about this issue and got blown off. Why don’t you try contacting Life Extension asking them first why they add these non active ingredients and secondly what assurance they can offer that the additives have no effect on the absorption of the supplement’s active ingredient. I’ve actually contacted Life Extension by phone talked with a very knowledgeable woman and was entirely satisfied that my questions were thoroughly answered.

    Reply

    • Hi Josh, As you know, I have talked to them (as well as others) and I still feel they didn’t tell me why they need the additives and fillers. What they told me was they cannot find any reason not to add them, no bio-film; no side effects showed up in their research. That said, I still am not satisfied with the answer I received. Tell me, what did they tell you that satisfied you and your curiosity? As I understand it, in Europe in particular, additives and fillers are not allowed especially in countries like Germany. If the Germans don’t allow them, why do we allow them in the USA? Why do we need larger supplements that many cannot swallow? Does it add something? Does it make them more absorbable? Please make me feel better about these supplements because, to be certain, they are cheaper and more available. If I understood how additives and fillers positively affect our supplements I would feel more positive about paying less.

      Kris

      Reply

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