Microcrystalline cellulose is a food additive used for its thickening , gelling and stabilizing properties; it improves the smoothness of the tablets and exhibits excellent compressibility and load capacity (increases the volume of the tablets without significantly increasing their energy value; in particular, it allows to produce stable and resistant tablets, which disintegrate easily, releasing the active ingredients)
The microcrystalline cellulose is obtained by a depolymerization process, with mineral acids , of the alpha- cellulose , in turn obtained from natural sources of vegetable fibers.
At room temperature, microcrystalline cellulose appears as a fine, white, odorless and water insoluble powder.
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Its presence on the label can also be indicated by the initials E460i. Being in fact an indigestible carbohydrate, microcrystalline cellulose does not provide a significant energy contribution; it boasts mild laxative properties , while like all insoluble fibers (unlike soluble ones ) it does not produce significant effects on plasma levels of glucose , triglycerides and cholesterol .
Microcrystalline cellulose is considered a safe additive, being also present in small quantities in plant foods .