How is Xylitol Made?
There are currently two methods. One is by an industrialized process of acid hydrolysis which unfortunately requires a catalyst in the form of powdered nickel-aluminum alloy and involves multi-step chemical reactions. Once you get to the final product it is questionable that there are any significant levels remaining in the end product, plus Xylitol is used in small amounts so you would have to determine your own concern about this. Most Xylitol sold in the US is derived from corn and most of that corn comes from China. Many of the companies selling Xylitol products do make a point of using only non GMO corn sources but all corn sources are processed via acid hydrolysis. Additionally, some of the Xylitol coming from hardwood sources in the US is also make via this process.
One company, Xylitol USA, makes Xylitol from a North American hardwood source but via a much cleaner, all-natural process using steam and ion exchange to extract the xylan molecule from the wood. The powdered form of this is sold under the name of Xyla or Emerald Forest Xylitol. You can purchase this and other Xylitol products directly from Xylitol USA.
Is Xylitol Safe?
Xylitol is mostly safe, especially if taken in amounts found in food. The FDA has approved Xylitol as a food additive or sweetener as has the European food Safety Authority (EFSA). The EFSA goes a step further confirming the positive impact that Xylitol has on oral health.
Studies show that 4 to 12 grams of Xylitol per day are very effective in preventing tooth decay. Up to 3.3 grams of Xylitol three times a day for children is recommended to prevent recurrent ear infections. A range of doses (7-20 grams daily) have been given to adults and children to help prevent tooth decay with no negative effects.
Side effects. If you take large amounts of Xylitol, such as 30-40 grams, you may experience diarrhea or gas. Increasing the dose gradually may help minimize these effects.
Risks. There is not enough information to confirm Xylitol’s safety in pregnant and breastfeeding women, so they should not use it for medicinal purposes. Although some animal studies have shown tumor growth resulting from high doses of Xylitol over long periods, more research is needed.
If you are a dog owner, be aware that Xylitol can be highly toxic to dogs, even in small amounts.
Interactions. Doctors don’t know of any interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or food.