Artificial Sweeteners (cont.)

Medical Editor:

Acesulfame K: What are the pros?

Acesulfame K has been an approved sweetener since 1988, and yet most people are not even aware that this is an artificial sweetener being used in their food and beverages. It is listed in the ingredients on the food label as acesulfame K, acesulfame potassium, Ace-K, or Sunett. It is 200 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar) and is often used as a flavor-enhancer or to preserve the sweetness of sweet foods. The FDA has set an acceptable daily intake (ADI) of up to 15 mg/kg of body weight/day.

Acesulfame K: What are the cons?

The problems surrounding acesulfame K are based on the improper testing and lack of long-term studies. Acesulfame K contains the carcinogen methylene chloride. Long-term exposure to methylene chloride can cause headaches, depression, nausea, mental confusion, liver effects, kidney effects, visual disturbances, and cancer in humans. There has been a great deal of opposition to the use of acesulfame K without further testing, but at this time, the FDA has not required that these tests be done.

Neotame: What are the pros?

In 2002, the FDA approved a new version of aspartame called Neotame. Neotame is chemically related to aspartame without the phenylalanine dangers for individuals with PKU. It is much sweeter than aspartame with a potency of approximately 7,000 to 13,000 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar).

Neotame is also being promoted for use as a flavor enhancer that "accentuates and lifts the flavors in food." The neotame web site states that it's safe for use by people of all ages, including pregnant or breastfeeding women, teens and children, and can be used in cooking. The FDA has set an acceptable daily intake (ADI) at 18 mg/kg of body weight/day.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/16/2014

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