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FAQs Products

Specific questions about our products:

Is Magnesium Stearate Safe?

We receive this question from time to time. Our position on those that purport magnesium stearate to be harmful are spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt for marketing purposes only since their products do not use magnesium stearate. There is simply no scientific evidence that magnesium stearate is harmful for use in dietary supplements and the overwhelming majority of supplement companies agree with the numerous independent studies that attest to its safety. Stearic acid while perhaps scary sounding is nothing more than a naturally-occurring fatty acid found in foods such as meat, poultry, fish, cocoa, milk and grains. For nutritional supplements, it is derived from palm oil. Magnesium stearate is the salt of stearic acid. They’re both used in relatively small amounts as a lubricant in nutritional supplement manufacturing to prevent materials from sticking to machinery. As a matter of fact, you ingest 250 to 500 times the amount of stearic acid found in a supplement by eating a single chocolate bar.

The FDA considers stearic acid and magnesium stearate GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) for food use in accordance with accepted GMP practices. Thus, the toxicity at these levels is extremely low and likely non-existent.

Toxicity assessments in rats have indicated magnesium stearate causes no irritation to the skin and is nontoxic when ingested or inhaled. In that study, it was shown that magnesium stearate had no effect up to levels of 2,500 mg per kg of body weight. For a 150 lb person, that would be 160 grams. Magnesium stearate has also showed no carcinogenic effects when implanted into mice bladders.

Considering that magnesium stearate has been used for decades with not one single adverse reaction attributed to it speaks for itself.

Why do my Heart Plus Tablets (or Capsules) gradually change color over time?

One of the primary ingredients of Heart Plus is Vitamin C (in the form of Ascorbic Acid). Over time, Vitamin C in this form oxidizes (particularly when it is with other oxidizing agents). During the oxidizing process, Vitamin C gradually changes color from a white or a light color to tan, yellow, orange, and then brown.While many manufacturers color or dye their Vitamin C formulations so that the color stays consistent, the Co-op does not do so and therefore the color change is visible (and is particularly noticeable with Heart Plus Veg Caps since the formulation is in powder form). When used non-topically (i.e. not as a cream or ointment) it is generally accepted that the oxidation process has no effect on its efficacy since, when Vitamin C interacts with the body’s enzymes and glutahtiones, it becomes both oxidized and non-oxidized en route to becoming an anti-oxidizing agent.

Co-op members have been using Heart Plus for years and have continually provided a host of glowing testimonials as to its effectiveness. For many this is the ultimate indication of this top-selling product’s efficacy.

I tested one your tablets in a glass of water (or vinegar) and it didn’t dissolve. Can I trust that your products are working?

This is an old marketing ploy. The stomach is very different from a glass of water or even vinegar. Stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) is much more acidic than water or vinegar, and digestion involves churning and heat as well. It’s often hard to spot a plausible-sounding ploy, so we appreciate our members’ interest in scientific experiments!

I’m interested in balancing the pH in my body. What products support a more alkaline environment?

Minerals in general support a more alkaline environment, as does a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Meats and proteins, on the other hand, support a more acid environment in the body. Respiratory acidosis is when the body is overly acid and can be caused by respiration, whereby the lungs are unable to remove carbon dioxide effectively, such as with asthma, bronchitis, or obstruction of the airway. Metabolic acidosis, on the other hand, can be caused by diabetes, kidney failure, too much aspirin, and a whole host of other things, including stress and even consumption of too much niacin and vitamin C! Diet is absolutely critical, with raw foods being ideal for restoring the correct acid/alkaline balance within the body. Interestingly, citrus fruit also has an alkalinizing effect, despite its concentration of citric acid!

Why don’t you sell mega-dose multivitamins?

There was an era when mega doses were all the rage, but that era is waning. Studies indicate that the body stops absorbing nutrients once a saturation point has been reached. We recommend divided doses for many of our supplements.

Do stomach acids destroy pancreatic enzymes?

No, pancreatic enzymes from vegetarian sources make it through the digestive process quite well. Unlike animal origin enzymes, vegetarian enzymes have a broader pH range of action, supporting break down of food in both your acidic stomach (pH about 3.0) as well as your more neutral intestines (pH about 6.0). This means there is no need for enteric coating, which adds both cost and extra chemicals to any formula.

I’ve heard that dicalcium phosphate is unsafe, yet many manufacturers use it as an excipient in their products. What’s your take?

There is absolutely no evidence that dicalcium phosphate is harmful. This notion got some publicity a number of years ago, largely due to a mail order company that put out brochures claiming calcium phosphate was bad. Their arguments were very unscientific and speculative at best. The few studies they cited did not support this contention at all. It was mainly a marketing ploy to make their products look superior because they did not use calcium phosphate. This is classic example of a spurious argument that takes on a life of its own through repetition.

Is there a correlation between vitamin C intake and nosebleeds?

Nosebleeds can be a symptom of vitamin C deficiency. They can also occur when people take high doses of vitamin C and then stop suddenly. This phenomenon is known as “rebound scurvy.” If someone has been irregular with vitamin C intake, or has dramatically changed their intake of vitamin C, it is very possible there is a correlation to recent nosebleeds. Bioflavonoids and/or grade seed extractmay help to strengthen capillaries.

Why did you remove iron from your Multi-Vites? I thought iron was important, especially for women.

The general thinking now is that most people do not need to supplement iron unless they have iron-deficiency anemia (and not all anemia is caused by iron deficiency). The concern about excess iron is due to evidence (not conclusive) that has come to light in recent years that high levels of iron in the blood may increase the risk of heart disease in some people, although it may also require low levels of antioxidants for this to occur. Most people store enough iron in their system so that they don’t require iron in their supplements.

What nutrients are important for detoxification?

In addition to a multivitamin and antioxidants (essential to metabolizing toxins and dealing with resulting free radicals), choline, betaine, methionine, vitamin B6, folic acid, and vitamin B12 are important, and they are referred to as lipotropic agents. This means that they promote the flow of fat and bile to and from the liver, in effect “decongesting” the liver and improving liver function and fat metabolism. Much research has been done on how silymarin from Milk Thistle enhances the detoxification process. It has been shown to prevent the depletion of glutathione. Glutathione is very important in binding with fat-soluble toxins (i.e. heavy metals, solvents, and pesticides) and converting toxins into water-soluble compounds that can be readily excreted via the kidneys.It helps to follow a liver-friendly diet, including avoidance of saturated fats, refined sugar, and alcohol. A diet rich in fiber, particularly water-soluble fiber, promotes increased healthy bile secretion. Foods that protect the liver include: (1) sulfur-rich garlic, legumes, onions, and eggs; (2) water soluble fibers from pears, oat bran, apples, and legumes; and (3) cabbage-family veggies such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cabbage.