Most Americans only average about 15 grams of fiber per day, but women should consume at least 25 grams per day and men should aim for at least 38 grams per day. Fiber supplements can help provide a little extra fiber to improve digestion and help limit constipation. Different types of fiber have different benefits, so there isn't one best supplement for everyone. Speak with your doctor to find the best type of chewable fiber for you.
Type of Fiber
Insoluble fiber helps improve bowel motility, while soluble fiber helps add bulk to stools and lower cholesterol levels, so both types are important for good health. Many fiber supplements come in the form of a powder you mix with liquid, but chewable fiber supplements are also available with various types of fiber, including methylcellulose, polycarbophil or psyllium. Psyllium helps add bulk to your stool, methylcellulose helps create a softer stool and polycarbophil does both.
Check the Additives
Fiber supplements often contain additives as well as the main fiber ingredient. If you're looking to avoid artificial flavorings, sweeteners and colors, read the ingredients carefully to find suitable chewable fiber supplements for your purposes. This is especially important for people who experience adverse effects when consuming these ingredients, such as those with irritable bowel syndrome, whose symptoms may worsen if they consume sugar alcohols, and diabetics, who may want to avoid fiber supplements made with sugar. Those with phenylketonuria shouldn't choose supplements containing aspartame.
Gas and bloating are among the more common side effects of fiber supplements. Polycarbophil is one of the types of fiber less likely to cause bloating, while inulin and psyllium act as prebiotics and may help increase the amount of "good bacteria" in your digestive tract. Supplements containing methylcellulose are less likely to cause gas, and acacia fiber supplements may limit both gas and bloating.
Other Potential Considerations
You shouldn't get more than 10 grams per day of fiber from supplements, and you shouldn't consume more than a few grams of fiber supplements at one time. Starting with a small dose, along with a glass of water, and gradually working up to a larger dose can help limit any side effects.
Check with your doctor before taking fiber supplements, as they may interfere with the absorption of some medications, including blood thinners, antidepressants and cholesterol medications. For example, people taking warfarin should avoid psyllium, and those taking tetracycline should avoid polycarbophils. Fiber supplements taken in large amounts may also interfere with the absorption of iron, magnesium and calcium.