Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I Read That (ingredient) Was Bad For You

Health-conscious consumers need to be weary of some of the information available online.

It’s a truism to say that you can’t believe everything you read on the internet. However, when it comes to the topic of health and nutrition, there’s all the more reason to remain on high alert when reading materials around the World Wide Web.
A few websites, articles and blogs can be deliberately misleading. They knowingly make scientifically inaccurate statements and peddle scare tactics unnecessarily—often with the intent to promote products that may lack in actual quality. Usually what these websites resort to is singling out a relatively minor ingredient, or a detail of its form as the sole focus of an attack.
These attacks have unfortunately caused a great deal of confusion for health-conscious people who are seeking to find the best quality products for their bodies.
Cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12)
For example, vitamin B12 as cyanocobalamin has recently been a target of misinformed criticism. The ingredient, which has been used in hundreds of studies for decades, is considered so safe that it’s often used as a placebo in randomized controlled trials.
Some have questioned its safety, citing the presence of minor amounts of cyanide residues. However, the facts on cyanocobalamin are that even when taken in extremely high amounts, it is absolutely safe and not associated with any kind of side effects. A full safety report from the Council for Responsible Nutrition drives this point in further (1),
“No toxic effects of B12 have been encountered in humans or animals at any level of oral intake (Miller and Hayes 1982; Food and Nutrition Board 1998). The overall evidence indicates that vitamin B12 is virtually nontoxic. Doses of 1,000 mcg per day were administered to a child by intravenous injection for a year without adverse effect (Merch 1958). Even if 100 percent metabolic liberation from Cyanocobalamin is assumed, the cobalt and cyanide contributions of 1,000 mcg of vitamin B12 are toxicologically insignificant (Hathcock and Troendle 1991)”
It’s important to remember that in everyday life we are exposed to varying levels of toxins such as cyanide from the air we breathe and naturally occurring amounts in many foods. Our bodies can handle these small quantities.
When present in supplements, cyanocobalamin offers vitamin B12 in a safe, stable and efficacious form backed by hundreds of scientific studies. The essential vitamin is needed for healthy functioning of the brain and nervous system. Most people, especially older people, could benefit from supplementation with B12. See more about B12 in our story “Holding onto Memory with B12″ here.
Magnesium stearate
Another example of an ingredient recently targeted is magnesium stearate. Magnesium stearate is simply a magnesium salt containing stearic acid. Stearic acid is a common fat found in cocoa butter and in meats. Magnesium stearate’s use in dietary supplements is as a lubricant to keep ingredients from sticking. Think of it as spraying “PAM” on the frying pan. This is important in the production of vitamins for quality, especially when formulas are complex and have multiple ingredients that would otherwise stick together.
The magnesium stearate used in Isagenix products is a vegetable source. It’s used in negligible amounts in dietary supplements (10 to 20 milligrams) and is absolutely harmless. By comparison, a chocolate bar contains about 5,000 milligrams of stearic acid and this is still harmless!
In contrast to what’s claimed in some articles about magnesium stearate, there is absolutely no scientific evidence that magnesium stearate has an effect on the immune system or affects nutrient absorption. This is pure bologna! (Note: bologna contains a great deal more stearic acid than any dietary supplement ever would.) As a minor source of saturated fat, stearic acid is actually shown to be potentially beneficial to health, not detrimental (2).
Lecithins are oily substances that are naturally found in plants (soybeans) and animals (egg yolks). It is extracted for use as an emulsifier in many prepackaged foods such as ice cream, milk shakes and chocolates. As an emulsifier, it helps keep fats and water from separating and produces smoothness in our IsaLean Shakes and IsaDelight Plus dark chocolates.
Far from being a “toxic sludge” as suggested around the internet, the phospholipid is an important part of all cell membranes. It plays a role as a component of bile in the small intestine and is a major source of choline in the diet, which is vital for proper metabolism of fats in the liver. It’s also a precursor for acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter in the brain. For these reasons, you may see lecithin available as a supplement in natural health stores.
The non-GMO soy lecithin found in IsaLean Shake is ultra-purified so it’s free of any proteins or contaminants. Soy lecithin doesn’t contribute any amount of soy protein (so it is hypoallergenic) and it doesn’t contribute any soy isoflavones (which are phytoestrogens). These are eliminated through purification and should not present a concern to those needing to avoid them.
Sodium benzoate
Naturally, preservatives are often targets of criticism despite their well-established long-term safety profile. For example, long-term studies have shown no health problems whatsoever associated with sodium benzoate in the concentrations used in our products. The ingredient is included because it prevents spoilage and extends shelf life in liquid products.
Sodium benzoate is simply the salt of benzoic acid, which is found widely in nature such as in apples, berries, cranberries, plums, prunes and cinnamon. In Isagenix products, the ingredient was used previously in Cleanse for Life and Ionix Supreme in a concentration of less than 0.1 percent. The amount is roughly equivalent to what could be found in a handful of cranberries.
A few years ago there was some indication that sodium benzoate in the presence of ascorbic acid could, in certain conditions (e.g. under heat or light), react to potentially produce the organic chemical benzene (3). Isagenix, consequently, decided to avoid use of sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid in any of its formulas. Nowadays, the ingredient sodium benzoate is no longer used at all in liquid Cleanse for Life and is not used in the powder forms of either Cleanse for Life or Ionix Supreme products.
Questions… Questions…
Isagenix understands that trust is a critical part of choosing nutritional products. This is why the company stands by a commitment to a “no compromise” policy when it comes to safety, potency and quality.
This post is intended to help clear up any questions people have about these ingredients in Isagenix products. In addition, we feel it’s important to add a word of caution about unscrupulous marketers that may publicize misleading information that could potentially be harmful to health.
  1. Hathcock J. Vitamin and Mineral Safety 2nd ed. Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN). 2004. 
  2. Kelly et al. A stearic acid-rich diet improves thrombogenic and atherogenic risk factor profiles in healthy males. 2001.
  3. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Questions and Answers on the Occurrence of Benzene in Soft Drinks and Other Beverages. 2006.

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