Sorbitol

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Sorbitol, also known as glucitol, is a sugar alcohol that the human body metabolises slowly. It can be obtained by reduction of glucose, changing the aldehyde group to a hydroxyl group. Sorbitol is found in apples, pears, peaches, and prunes.[1] It is synthesized by sorbitol-6-phosphate dehydrogenase and sorbitol dehydrogenase, and converted to fructose by succinate dehydrogenase.[2] Succinate dehydrogenase is an enzyme complex that participates in the citric acid cycle.[3]


Contents

Uses

Sweetener

Sorbitol is a sugar substitute. It may be listed under the inactive ingredients listed for some foods and products. Sorbitol is referred to as a nutritive sweetener because it provides dietary energy: 2.6 kilocalories (11 kilojoules) per gram versus the average 4 kilocalories (17 kilojoules) for carbohydrates. It is often used in diet foods (including diet drinks and ice cream), mints, cough syrups, and sugar-free chewing gum.

It also occurs naturally in many stone fruits and berries from trees of the genus Sorbus.[4]

Laxative

Sorbitol can be used as a non-stimulant laxative via an oral suspension or enema. It works by drawing water into the large intestine, thereby stimulating bowel movements.[5] Sorbitol has been determined safe for use by the elderly, although it is not recommended without consultation with a clinician.[6]

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