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1. Humectant - Binds with water to increase skin hydration. Also enhances water absorption of the skin
2. Sweetener - Sugar substitutes which provides a sweet taste without raising blood sugar levels
Xylitol is a colorless or white solid that is soluble in water. It is a natural sugar alcohol (polyols) sweetener found in many fibrous fruits and vegetables such as berries, corn, mushrooms, and plums. Commercially it is produced from birch, other hard wood trees, and fibrous vegetables. [1]
It is used as an artificial sweetener in manufactured products, such as drugs or dietary supplements, confections, toothpaste, and chewing gum. Use of manufactured products containing xylitol may reduce tooth decay. [1]
It has E number 967 and is approved to use as food additive in EU.
Recent Findings:
Xylitol is a type of naturally occurring sugar which can be found in plums, strawberries, cauliflower and pumpkin. [2] The sugar precursor, xylose, can be converted to xylitol via a specific yeast strain. [2] It is an effective sugar alternative and "has prebiotic effects which can reduce blood glucose, triglyceride, and cholesterol level[s]". [2] Xylitol has also been shown to reduce incidents of dental caries as limited types of bacteria can digest and make use of its chemical structure. [3] [4] Therefore it is possible for xylitol to be used in "the role of sugar substitution as a potential health-promoting strategy". [3] Xylitol is safe to consume in relatively large quantities of up to 10 g daily. [4] In a human chewing gum study, those who chewed on sucrose-based gum obtained an average caries activity index of 4.96 while those who chewed on xylitol-based gum obtained an average caries activity index of 0.88. [5] Chewing xylitol-based gum results in 5.6 times less likelihood of developing dental caries and "the findings clearly indicate a therapeutic, caries inhibitory effect of xylitol". [5]
Warning, this ingredient is toxic to dogs. It causes severe insulin release which can result in hypoglycemia, acute hepatic necrosis and even death. [A] [B] Possible treatment include plasma transfusion and an administration of glucose/dextrose to revert hypoglycemia. [A] [C] The mechanism of toxicity is postulated to be the conversion of xylitol into metabolites which interfere with insulin synthesis and release. [C] [D] Elevated insulin levels dramatically decrease blood glucose levels. [C] Please consult a veterinary professional immediately.
Scientific References:
2. Xylitol: A Review on Bioproduction, Application, Health Benefits, and Related Safety Issues. (Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 55(11), 1514–1528. doi:10.1080/10408398.2012.702288)
3. Sugar Alcohol Sweeteners as Alternatives to Sugar with Special Consideration of Xylitol. (Medical Principles and Practice, 20(4), 303–320. doi:10.1159/000324534)
4. Xylitol, Sweeteners, and Dental Caries (Pediatric Dentistry, 28(2), 154-163)
5. Turku sugar studies XVIII: Incidence of dental caries in relation to 1-year consumption of xylitol chewing gum. (Acta Odontologica Scandinavica, 33(5), 269–278. doi:10.3109/00016357509004632)
6. [A] Acute hepatic failure and coagulopathy associated with xylitol ingestion in eight dogs. (J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc., 229(7), 1113–1117. doi:10.2460/javma.229.7.1113)
7. [B] Xylitol intoxication associated with fulminant hepatic failure in a dog. (J. Vet. Emerg. Crit. Care, 17(3), 286–289. doi:10.1111/j.1476-4431.2007.00243.x)
8. [C] Xylitol. (Top. Companion Anim. Med., 28(1), 18–20. doi:10.1053/j.tcam.2013.03.008)
9. [D] Xylitol toxicosis in dogs. (Vet. Nurse, 9(5), 256–260. doi:10.12968/vetn.2018.9.5.256)
Regulatory References:
1. EU Approved Food Additive [2018]

Potential Health Concerns For:

1. Encephalitis (PubMed ID:6424993)

Potential Health Benefits For:

1. Melanoma, Experimental (PubMed ID:32275922)

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