Magnesium stearate is a fine white powder that adheres to the skin and feels greasy to the touch. It is a magnesium salt of a fatty acid – stearic acid.
It has been widely used in the food industry for many decades as an emulsifier, binder and thickener, as well as an anti-caking, lubricating, releasing and defoaming agent.
Although fatty acids are obtained from plant sources, the use of animal fat (including pork and beef) cannot be excluded. Information on origin can only be provided by the manufacturer. Their use is therefore not recommended for vegans and vegetarians.
Main important points about E572 – Magnesium stearate:
This is a stabilizer.
It can be of animal origin.
Allowed in the Czech Republic.
For food applications, magnesium stearate is typically produced by one of the following two processes:
- The direct (fusion) process involves the direct reaction of fatty acids with a source of magnesium such as magnesium oxide to form magnesium salts of fatty acids.
- In the indirect (precipitation) process, sodium soap is made by reacting fatty acids with sodium hydroxide in water and precipitating the product by adding magnesium salts to the soap.
The fatty acids used as a raw material come from edible fats and oils and consist mainly of stearic and palmitic acids.
What is magnesium stearate used for?
Magnesium stearate is commonly added to many foods, medicines and cosmetics. With drugs and vitamins, its primary purpose is to act as a lubricant.
It is primarily used in medicine capsules. It prevents the individual ingredients in the capsule from sticking to each other and to the machine that creates the capsule. It helps improve the consistency and quality control of drug capsules. Another of its functions is to slow down the absorption and breakdown of drugs. In this way, the body absorbs the medicine in the right area of our intestine.
Examples of foods and drinks that sometimes contain E572:
- chewing gums
- baking ingredients
Is E572 healthy?
Magnesium stearate is generally considered safe for consumption. If you take too much of it, it can have a laxative effect.
Some individuals may be allergic to it, in which case it is a good idea to avoid this food additive.
Did you know that 120 ml of human breast milk contains more than 5,000 mg of stearic acid?
Use in the EU vs. USA vs. world
Magnesium stearate is approved for use in the European Union and other countries including China, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, and has been generally recognized as safe in the United States.