The Real Problems With Soylent Are Not Fixed In Version 1.1


I have known what the issues with Soylent are since I first saw the ingredients list. I didn’t post anything about it because I didn’t have time and I thought Rosa Labs would catch their mistake and correct it in future versions. When I saw all the complaints about gastrointestinal problems and headaches I said to myself, “well that was bound to happen”, and went about my day. All the while I kept waiting for someone to speak up about what the problem was. I expected the next version to fix the ingredients…

I slowly came to the conclusion that Rosa Labs and the Soylent community are actually at a loss for what the issue really is. After reading about version 1.1 and what “improvements” they have made by adding digestive enzymes I knew I had to speak up. So, after much ado, I give you the solution to all the Soylent problems:

NOTE: I have provided references where I thought them appropriate. You don’t have to take what I’m saying as fact; I encourage you to do your own research. I already have, and know the following to be true.

There are two ingredients that are bad. The first is Magnesium oxide.

Magnesium oxide has very poor bioavailability. citation citation This is due to the fact that it is not well absorbed by the body. citation Poor absorption of magnesium creates an osmotic effect and causes water to be retained in the intestines. citation This can result in a laxative action citation citation. It’s actually not just a laxative action, from experience I can say nausea is among the symptoms.

This effect is not subtle. You can compare the reviews of magnesium supplements on Amazon to see the problems magnesium oxide can cause.

Calcium carbonate is the second bad ingredient.

Calcium carbonate can also have a poor bioavailability (again, poor absorption) this is true in healthy adults citation; but is especially true in people with achlorhydria (low stomach acid) and the Elderly citation citation. This is because Calcium carbonate is an antacid. In fact, Tums brand antacid is just flavored calcium carbonate citation. Antacids neutralize stomach acidity, increasing the PH. Gastric acid needs to stay acidic to digest food properly [citation needed]. Therefore, by lowering the acidity you are making it more difficult to digest food. Making Soylent more difficult to digest probably leads to more gastrointestinal upset.

This theory is reinforced by the fact that Rosa Labs has seen some improvement in the gastrointestinal upset by adding digestive enzymes to version 1.1. If the addition of digestive enzymes improves gastrointestinal upset then it would seem apparent that people were having trouble digesting the stuff.

The US National Library of Medicine lists some known side-effects of calcium carbonate on their website, among them are “upset stomach” and “increased urination” citation.

That brings me to my last point. Soylent is likely causing dehydration. This most common symptom of mild dehydration is headache. As cited above, magnesium in the intestines causes an osmotic effect. This draws fluids from the body and retains those within the intestine citation. When you couple this with the increased urination from the calcium carbonate, it’s obvious to me that the combination would lead to some level of dehydration.

So now, what’s the solution? The solution is calcium citrate and magnesium citrate. These compounds do not have any of those problems. Honestly, they shouldn’t need the enzymes if they fix the ingredients.

A discussion has started here about potential (though rare) dangers of calcium citrate. I wanted to point out that calcium citrate and magnesium citrate are not the only possible solutions. Here are a handful of other options that are also easily absorbed:

calcium lactate citrate
calcium lactate malate
calcium gluconate

magnesium gluconate
magnesium actate
magnesium aspartate

Again, this list is also incomplete and may even have compounds that pose other risks. From the research, it looks like gluconate is the best bet. Though it is the most expensive choice.


There has been some discussion about the real impact that the calcium carbonate has on stomach pH considering that when Soylent is mixed with water it’s actually slightly acidic. I wanted to point out that this is actually irrelevant. Calcium carbonate does not neutralize the acid simply by being a base and “diluting” the acid. There is a chemical reaction going on between the calcium carbonate and the hydrochloric acid in the gut that causes the change in pH. Specifically, the formula is:
CaCO3 + 2HCl -> CaCl2 + H2O + CO2


I noticed I’m not the first person to bring this up here:


I have a hunch that Soylent may be inducing a magnesium deficiency in people. This is because a magnesium deficiency does not show up on a blood test since magnesium is stored within tissue and not in the blood. citation Therefore, the bloodwork used to test Soylent in the early stages would have overlooked this. The best way to test this hunch will be to poll full-time users for the symptoms. I am going to create a separate thread to do just that.

The Science Questions Thread
The Soylent Side Effect Experiments Thread
Drink soylent, never get enough magnesium
1.2 Gas issues?
Introducing Soylent 1.2
Introducing Soylent 1.2

That is interesting, the Schmoylent recipe uses the citrate on both those and the few reviews I’ve read that have compared it compared it favorably against Soylent 1.0 regarding gas.


My impression is that Rosa Labs has been too busy ironing out problems in production and trying to catch up with the order backlog to spend much time refining the formula. Things have complex interactions and require more thought than “take out this and add this” and they simply haven’t had time.

Calcium citrate is potentially dangerous: it will drastically increase absorption of aluminum hydroxide, an active ingredient in most antacids. Even in a healthy individual, this will put disproportionate strain on the kidneys; it might be fatal to someone with renal dysfunction. A meal replacement powder known for gastric distress, with a black box label not to use with antacids, sounds like a cruel joke.

I don’t immediately see any problems with magnesium citrate, other than some rare but potentially life-threatening interactions with an alarmingly large number of medications.

I still like having all this information in one place, thanks. I’ll do my research and consider supplementing.


I could have sworn I read that Rob said they wouldn’t need to add magnesium because the oats supplied so much. The amount of magnesium oxide added may be very little?


Calcium citrate is potentially dangerous: it will drastically increase absorption of aluminum hydroxide, an active ingredient in most antacids. Even in a healthy individual, this will put disproportionate strain on the kidneys; it might be fatal to someone with renal dysfunction.

I just suggested calcium citrate because it’s what I’m most familiar with. Obviously there are a lot of potential cadets for calcium supplements. Some alternatives to carbonate are mentioned in a few of the studies in my citations. There are a lot of good choices for calcium sources. Carbonate just isn’t one of them. Or rather, it’s not the best choice.


I could have sworn I read that Rob said they wouldn’t need to add magnesium because the oats supplied so much. The amount of magnesium oxide added may be very little?

From what I’ve read, magnesium levels in crops vary wildly and depend entirely on the levels found in the soil where the crop was grown. While oats as a general rule are magnesium rich, maybe this batch was grown in magnesium depleted soil and required supplementation.

I really wish the actual recipe was known (with proportions). They should post it to the diy boards so it can be forked and tweaked.


I strongly agree with this. It would make crowdsourcing analysis much easier.


agree strongly also. They did have a blog post a while back about micros and macros where they said how much was in Soylent of each… But that is outdated now and much could have changed.

@MattCauble did provide some information recently about and some important insight into FDA regulations specificly about the exact vitamin content actually being higher than 100% for many of them because they degrade over time, and this is a demand from the FDA? Second part was that they were not allowed to state how much exactly was of each vitamin and mineral, but Matt said he would look into the mater. (Any news Matt?)


Great work explaining this.

I had been working on this for a while too and in this recipe are the vitamin/mineral forms that i found where the least problematic for the gut and best for bioavailablity:


Could you post a link to the study that showed that interaction with antacids and aluminium hydroxide?

EDIT: what i was able to find on google so far tells me that aluminium is absorbed better when the environment is more acidic. Calcium citrate does not influence the PH balance and therefore does not lower the acidity. This seems to only be a problem for people who actually take aluminium and have renal failure.

If/When the soylent formula is fixed there should be no need for antacids. And even if you do need them you can choose one that plays nice with the soylent formula.


One thing I found interresting in this discourse right here is the talk about antacid in terms of raising the pH of the stumach acid? I am not actually sure how big a problem that actually is. The fact is that the Soylent is actually slightly acidic when mixed with water. As a fellow forum member tested it, it lowered is water from 8 something to 6 something. So do you guys really think that even with a basic compound as calcium carbonate that is in a mix that is acidic when combined, will cause problems? (Keep in mind that normal food can vary in pH too and basically all food raises the pH because it isn’t as acid as the HCl in our stumachs. (That is why there are acid pumps there)


The point is that some compounds inhibit or increase the production of the acid in our stomachs. The acidity of the soylent itself probably does not matter as much.


From my understanding, it doesn’t actually inhibit the production. It simply neutralized what is already there. Wikipedia does state the side effects of this over long term can be very bad, but it seems to be only if the amount is too high of these compounds… It doesn’t say how much is too much… That fact does have grounds for worry :3


This is what some people here and i too think, can be done to satisfy most people at once as best as possible…with the next version (1.2) or atleast the version after that:

  1. Completely unsweetened but with a ‘clearly noticable’ message that sweeteners can be added if desired by the consumer…‘clearly noticable’ message because some people dont experiment or try to improve it if they dont like the taste but instead just throw it away. But if they have the option to sweeten it themselves and they know they have that option, people can avoid the sweetener they have issues with and use the one their body can handle.

  2. Please explore lecithin from other sources that are non-GMO and non-estrogenic ( lecithin from other sources is healthy too). Phytoestrogens are known to be estrogenic.They are also marketed as estrogen supplements. So i am just requesting you to look into it. Please look into the studies too and studies from other sources.

  3. Please explore other oils too . Or you could allow people to choose the oil they want to order along with soylent.

  4. More bio-available versions of vitamins and minerals.

  5. Please explore maltodextrin from non-GMO corn. please look into those studies and studies from other sources.

  6. Please explore if salt can be raised a tiny little bit, without it becoming salty. Sure salt can be added by people too, but it wont occur to a lot of people. Or a ‘clearly noticable’ message that salt can be added too.

Even if some of these raise the cost of the product, although there are exceptions…most buyers will buy it if it helps them become more healthy if they face less issues consuming it. As most of these are the same people who spend extra on healthfood anyway. So most of them are wealthy enough to afford the price increase. Please dont use less quality versions of ingredients for the sake of a few people.

By asking them to explore non-GMO i am not suggesting them to go all natural or organic or hug trees.


Thats too much to expect :slight_smile: They will be out of business. I think if they address the problems mentioned here, i think it will be allright


How would they be out of business? The original recipe was open sourced and they benefited from community experimentation because of it.


I agree with your all your suggestions except the ones concerning GMO’s as the reality of GMO’s does not affect health differently than non GMO. Also, the Soy Lechithin is no different than Sunflower Lechithin, it doesn’t contain phytoestrogen… And it doesn’t matter if lechithin is GMO even if GMO’s were in any way harmful… Since it is so highly processed that there is litterally no trace of the Soybeans/eggs/sunflower it came from

:slight_smile: <- “However, later laboratory analysis revealed that lecithin contains no phytoestrogens” <-
“As described above, lecithin is highly processed. Therefore, genetically modified (GM) protein or DNA from the original GM crop from which it is derived often is undetectable – in other words, it is not substantially different from lecithin derived from non-GM crops”

:stuck_out_tongue: I understand your concerns (as someone who isn’t concerned about your specific concerns) because our forum has gone through the subject a few times before with the conclusion that GMO is a non issue for health.

There is the subject of pesticide resistant GMO crops where the farmers are actually the problem, using much more pesticides, and as a result causing problems… this isn’t because the crop itself is dangerous, but because the farmers are.


@Tordenskjold Sorry i made a mistake, soy lecithin or lecithin from other sources wont produce GMO issues true. But ‘soy’ part of soy lecithin, not lecithin, can be ‘estrogenic’. Also maltodextrin and linseed can be from GMO sources.


Hey @Tordenskjold. Sorry for taking a while to get back to everyone on this. We talked about putting this information up along with degradation studies on each of the vitamins so that everyone could see the rationale behind the figures. Unfortunately, our current vitamin/mineral supplier will not disclose the exact amount they are putting into the mix as the have some “proprietary algorithm” so we can’t share this information with people. When we have more resources, we will investigate running the vitamin and minerals on our own so that we can have greater insight and control into this process. I’m sorry I couldn’t be more helpful right now and I’m just as frustrated as you regarding this deception. We have found this behavior to be par for the course in this industry which is one of the major reasons why we feel we are doing something important right now.


Did they mention the ‘proportions’ too at that time?