Xylitol is a natural alcohol found in many fruits and vegetables. It is a sugar-free sweetener used in chewing gum, packaged sweeteners, mints and candies.
It is considered as the sweetest of all sugar alcohols, and is as sweet as sugar. It is also not well absorbed by the body, just like the rest of the sugar alcohols, and so it has fewer calories than sugar.
Risks of taking Xylitol
Like the rest of the sugar alcohols, xylitol is safe when consumed in small amounts and up to 3.3 grams of xylitol three times a day is given to children to prevent ear infections and 7-20 grams per day to adults to help prevent tooth decay.
Large amounts of xylitol, 30 to 40 grams, may induce diarrhoea in humans.
Some animal studies indicate that tumour growth can result from high doses of xylitol over long periods, more research is needed.
Xylitol can be toxic to dogs and so dog owners need to be aware that xylitol even in small quantities can be lethal for their dogs and in case they have ingested it they need to be rushed to a veterinary doctor.