What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a type of alcohol that natural occurs in plant material.  It is present in the majority of vegetables and fruits.

It is also used to make medicine when extracted from birch wood or corncobs.  In the United States, this sugar alcohol is largely found in sugar-free candies, mints and chewing gums.  However, it also possesses health benefits that many are not aware of.

What Are the Benefits of Xylitol?

The most common use is using xylitol to prevent tooth decay and dental caries (cavities, decay, etc.).  You will find that a lot of dental products and chewing gums contain this sugar alcohol.  However, these products tend to have very small amounts and at least a gram is necessary to help prevent these dental issues.  Because of this, many people choose to supplement with products that were specifically made to contain the right doses of xylitol.

Xylitol is believed to be effective in preventing ear infections, especially in those who are preschool age.  This works best when used after meals and research shows that it has helped to reduce how many ear infections a child has when consumed regularly.

Other conditions are being researched to see is this sugar alcohol can be helpful for them.  These conditions include:

  • Diabetes
  • Dry mouth
Are There Any Side Effects?

This sugar alcohol is something people commonly consume and it is considered to be safe.  Most adults can take up to 50 grams each day with no problems.  When it comes to children, they should not exceed 20 grams per day unless directed by a doctor.  There is a chance that this may cause intestinal gas or diarrhea, but this usually goes away over time.

How is Xylitol Dosed?

When this is used to help in cavity prevention the usual dose is between seven and 20 grams each day.  This is usually administered three to give times per day, in divided doses.  You will want to consult your doctor or dentist to figure out the best dose for you.  This is usually given as chewing gum or a syrup. 

When this is used to decrease ear infection risk, it is given as a lozenge, chewing gum or syrup.  Your dentist or doctor will recommend between 8.4 and 10 grams per day.  This will be administered in three to five different doses and is usually given after eating a meal.