What are the Side Effects of Xylitol?
Does xylitol have any side effects? What are its side effects?
Those two are two common questions for every food additive and of course xylitol is no exception.
Before we answer those questions let’s take a look at what the official organizations say.
- US FDA (Food and Drug Administrations has approved xylitol for use in “foods for special dietary purposes”
- JEFCA (Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives) allocated an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for xylitol of “Not Specified”, which represents the safest category into which JEFCA can allocate a food additive.
- Has been approved by the EU Scientific Committee for Food for dietary uses
So does that mean that it is 100% side effect free? Obviously no, xylitol has some minor side effects that usually arise when it is consumed in large quantities.
Gastrointestinal Side Effects
Bloating and diarrhea are the two main gastrointestinal side effects of xylitol. It is absorbed incompletely from the intestine by passive diffusion and an excessive load, over a person’s laxation threshold can cause diarrhea. However, regular consumption can increase one’s laxation threshold, meaning that the body adapts to higher dosages. Also, as we mentioned it is incompletely absorbed, unabsorbed quantities are fermented by the intestinal flora which can cause abdominal gas and bloating.
Some articles over the Internet mention hypoglycemia as a potential side effect. However, during reviewing the scientific literature, I was not able to find any credible sources. The only peer reviewed articles that I could find mentioning that xylitol could cause hypoglycemia where about dogs and not humans. On the contrary, research data suggest that xylitol doesn’t cause reactive hypoglycemia(1)
Xylitol and Uric Acid
There are reports showing that xylitol can cause elevated serum levels of Uric Acid. However, these findings are from trials using xylitol intravenously. No study (to my knowledge) has shown that oral consumption of xylitol can increase Uric Acid’s levels.
There are reports suggesting that some people might be allergic to xylitol. In most cases it appears to be people that are allergic to corn (raw material for xylitol’s production).
- Natah SS; Hussien KR; et al Metabolic response to lactitol and xylitol in healthy men. Am J Clin Nutr (United States) Apr 1997, 65 (4) p947-50