What is Sorbitol?
Sorbitol, which is known by several other names such as Ora-Sweet SF, PCCA Sweet-SF, PCCA-Plus and PCCA Syrup Vehicle is a slow metabolizing sugar alcohol used an artificial sweetener and food additives. Its chemical structure is C6H1406. Sorbitol is found naturally occurring in many fruits, corn, and even seaweed. In addition, it can also be made by scientists using a process known as glucose reduction. Further, sorbitol can be converted into fructose using soritold-6-phosphate 2-dehydrogenase.
What Does USP Mean?
The USP designation is important to look out for when purchasing products to be used in food or medical grade products. USP stands for the United States Pharmacopeia and designates that a certain product has been manufactured using a standard, approved, and uniform process. This designation also guarantees that they have undergone the proper testing and ensures that they have met certain standards. Any product that holds the USP designation is guaranteed to meet necessary identity, potency, purity, and performance standards.
Benefits of Using Sorbitol in Place of Sugar
Sorbitol is often used as a sugar substitute because of its slow metabolic properties. Unlike sugar, sorbitol enters the blood stream slowly and as a result does not cause a person’s insulin levels to spike drastically. It is about 60% as sweet as table sugar and only contains 2.6 kilocalories of dietary energy per gram. Further, it does not have the same effect on teeth as sugar, and is much less likely to cause tooth decay. This is because most bacteria cannot use sorbitol for energy. However, it can be fermented slowly by one group of bacteria called mutans streptococci, so it is not completely without concern.
Sorbitol for Use in Cosmetics
When used in cosmetics sorbitol is generally derived from corn, which is largely produced by The People’s Republic of China. Within the cosmetic industry, sorbitol is used in a large variety of products, including but not limited to, aftershave lotion, baby shampoos and hair care products. Cosmetic companies love using this sugar substitute in their products because it works very well as a thickening agent and has skin moisturizing qualities.
In cosmetic products, sorbitol can also be used as a humectant. This means that it helps trap water, moisture, and nutrients in the skin, helping to prevent the everyday loss of water skin experiences. It does this by a scientific process known as osmosis. The sorbitol pulls water from the air around the skin and allows the water to be absorbed by the skin. To utilize sorbitol for its moisturizing qualities it is best used in a more humid climate. When used in dry climates, the opposite process takes place. Water will actually be pulled from the skin and released into the air, thus leaving skin dry and dehydrated. For that reason, sorbitol should be used on skin cautiously in hot dry climates.
Sorbitol in Food Products
Sorbitol is commonly used in diet foods and drinks because of its reduced caloric effect and its ability to be slowly metabolized by the body. It is also commonly found in candy, toothpaste, and mouthwash. When added to candy it helps give the firmness normally associated with sugar. Since it is almost as sweet tasting as sugar it makes a great substitute. This is especially true for people who suffer from diabetes, because of its low glycemic index. Aside from its dietary properties, it is also used as a humectant in low moisture foods, helping them maintain the proper texture and consistency. In addition, it is a valuable tool in baking. Sorbitol has the ability to thicken baking mixtures allowing to easily become the right texture without needed excess flour. It also has preserving qualities extending shelf life and preventing baked goods from going stale.
Sorbitol in E-Cigarette Vape Juice
Recently, there have been studies and concerns within the vape community associating the use of certain sweeteners and sugars with harmful risks, especially furan production. A furan is a chemical compound that is created as a byproduct of thermal treatment during processing, and is thought of to be associated with negative health concerns. This is especially important when making e-cigarette vape juice, because of the necessary heating component. However, researchers have found that sorbitol does not lead to the production of furans, like other sweeteners and sugars have been found to do. This makes Sorbitol a great source of sweetener for vape juice.
Sorbitol as a Laxative
Sugar alcohols are commonly known for their association with causing gastrointestinal distress. Most studies show that consumption of over 5 grams can cause intestinal symptoms including diarrhea in a significant portion of the population. However, when used properly sorbitol can be used as a safe and effective laxative which can be taken orally or with an enema. It works using a similar process as the one described in connection with cosmetics. Sorbitol draws water into the large intestine allowing for the stimulation of bowel movements. Like with any medical treatment it is always best to seek the instruction of a medical professional before attempting any treatments at home.