Polydextrose

While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • [14C] polydextrose, carbohydrate, citric acid, dextrose polymer, dietary fiber, glucose, Litesse®, oligosaccharide, polydextrose, polysaccharide, prebiotic, short-chain fatty acids, sorbitol, sugar substitute.

Background

  • Polydextrose is a carbohydrate and a nondigestible polysaccharide, used primarily as a sugar replacer. It has been studied for its effects on impaired glucose tolerance and childhood growth promotion. It has also been investigated for its potential laxative and lipid lowering effects. More high-quality human trials are needed.

Scientific Evidence

Uses

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Childhood growth promotion

Polydextrose has prebiotic activity and has generated interest in the food industry in the development of new “healthy” products. Additional research is needed in this area.

High blood sugar/glucose intolerance

Preliminary studies have found that polydextrose did not inhibit glucose absorption and did not have a significant effect on glucagon or fatty acid levels in the blood. However, there was a significant decrease in blood glucose and insulin. High-quality human studies are needed in this area.

Laxative

In early research, polydextrose has been found to soften stool consistency, decrease the transit time of food in the gastrointestinal tract, and improve the frequency and ease of defecation. Additional high-quality human studies are needed in this area.

Lipid lowering (cholesterol and triglycerides)

In early research, polydextrose has been shown to have effects on triglyceride and cholesterol concentrations. Additional research is needed.

Weight loss

Preliminary evidence suggests that polydextrose had a small effect on satiety (feeling full). High-quality human studies are needed in this area.

*Key to grades:

Tradition

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.

  • Food additive, food uses, nutritional supplement (prebiotic).

Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)

  • For lipid lowering (cholesterol and triglycerides), high blood sugar or glucose intolerance, 16 grams of polydextrose in four deciliters of a drink has been taken by mouth in two divided doses with main meals for 12 weeks. Subjects only consumed two deciliters daily for the first week of the study.

  • As a laxative, the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) and the European Commission Scientific Committee for Food (EC/SCF) assigned a mean laxative threshold of approximately 90 grams daily (1.3 grams per kilogram) or 50 grams as a single dose of polydextrose taken by mouth.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for polydextrose in children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid in people with a known allergy or sensitivity to polydextrose.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Polydextrose has been well tolerated in humans.

  • Use cautiously in people with gastrointestinal problems or diarrhea, as polydextrose in high amounts may result in gas, bloating, soft or loose stools, increased stool size, and diarrhea.

  • Use cautiously in people with pancreatic problems, based on reports of changes in the pancreas following polydextrose use.

  • Use cautiously in people with kidney disease, as polydextrose may cause kidney damage.

  • Polydextrose may lower blood sugar and insulin levels. Caution is advised in people with diabetes or hypoglycemia and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.

  • Use cautiously in people taking lipid-lowering medications, as polydextrose may affect lipid levels.

  • Use cautiously in people with skin conditions, as healthy infants have developed eczema as a side effect.

  • Avoid use in people with an allergy or hypersensitivity to polydextrose.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • There is currently a lack of high-quality scientific data on the use of polydextrose in pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs

  • Polydextrose may lower blood sugar or insulin levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. People taking insulin or drugs for diabetes by mouth should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.

  • Polydextrose may also interact with antibiotics, anticancer agents, agents used to treat diarrhea, gastrointestinal agents, laxatives, lipid-lowering agents, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents, and weight loss agents.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Polydextrose may lower blood sugar or insulin levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.

  • Polydextrose may also interact with antibacterial herbs and supplements, anticancer herbs and supplements, anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements, herbs and supplements used to treat diarrhea, calcium, carbohydrates, fiber supplements, gastrointestinal herbs or supplements, laxatives, lipid-lowering herbs and supplements, probiotics (such as B. lactis), and weight loss herbs and supplements.

Author Information

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  1. Auerbach MH, Craig SA, Howlett JF, et al. Caloric availability of polydextrose. Nutr Rev 2007;65(12 Pt 1):544-549. View Abstract
  2. Ghoddusi HB, Grandison MA, Grandison AS, et al. In vitro study on gas generation and prebiotic effects of some carbohydrates and their mixtures. Anaerobe 2007;13(5-6):193-199. View Abstract
  3. Hengst C, Ptok S, Roessler A, et al. Effects of polydextrose supplementation on different faecal parameters in healthy volunteers. Int J Food Sci Nutr 2009;60 Suppl 5:96-105. View Abstract
  4. Herfel TM, Jacobi SK, Lin X, et al. Safety evaluation of polydextrose in infant formula using a suckling piglet model. Food Chem Toxicol 2009;47(7):1530-1537. View Abstract
  5. Hernot DC, Boileau TW, Bauer LL, et al. In vitro fermentation profiles, gas production rates, and microbiota modulation as affected by certain fructans, galactooligosaccharides, and polydextrose. J Agric Food Chem 2009;57(4):1354-1361. View Abstract
  6. Knapp BK, Parsons CM, Swanson KS, et al. Physiological responses to novel carbohydrates as assessed using canine and avian models. J Agric Food Chem 2008;56(17):7999-8006. View Abstract
  7. Li J, Wang G, Yang Y. Determination of polydextrose in food by high performance anion exchange chromatographic method with pulsed amperometric detector. Wei Sheng Yan Jiu 2008;37(2):225-227. View Abstract
  8. Liou BK, Grun IU. Effect of fat level on the perception of five flavor chemicals in ice cream with or without fat mimetics by using a descriptive test. J Food Sci 2007;72(8):S595-S604. View Abstract
  9. Makelainen HS, Makivuokko HA, Salminen SJ, et al. The effects of polydextrose and xylitol on microbial community and activity in a 4-stage colon simulator. J Food Sci 2007;72(5):M153-M159. View Abstract
  10. Nakamura N, Gaskins HR, Collier CT, et al. Molecular ecological analysis of fecal bacterial populations from term infants fed formula supplemented with selected blends of prebiotics. Appl Environ Microbiol 2009;75(4):1121-1128. View Abstract
  11. Oliveira RP, Florence AC, Silva RC, et al. Effect of different prebiotics on the fermentation kinetics, probiotic survival and fatty acids profiles in nonfat symbiotic fermented milk. Int J Food Microbiol 2009;128(3):467-472. View Abstract
  12. Satoh H, Hara T, Murakawa D, et al. Soluble dietary fiber protects against nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug-induced damage to the small intestine in cats. Dig Dis Sci 2010;55(5):1264-1271. View Abstract
  13. Tiihonen K, Suomalainen T, Tynkkynen S, et al. Effect of prebiotic supplementation on a probiotic bacteria mixture: comparison between a rat model and clinical trials. Br J Nutr 2008;99(4):826-831. View Abstract
  14. Willis HJ, Eldridge AL, Beiseigel J, et al. Greater satiety response with resistant starch and corn bran in human subjects. Nutr Res 2009;29(2):100-105. View Abstract
  15. Ziegler E, Vanderhoof JA, Petschow B, et al. Term infants fed formula supplemented with selected blends of prebiotics grow normally and have soft stools similar to those reported for breast-fed infants. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2007;44(3):359-364. View Abstract

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.