Maltitol is an artificially produced sweetener that is a member of the sugar alcohol family. According to the Calorie Control Council, maltitol contains 90 percent of the sweetness of sugar and has 2.1 calories per gram. It is sometimes used in low calorie foods, foods labeled as sugar free and foods recommended for diabetics. It also provides a lower-carb alternative to table sugar, because the body can only absorb half of the carbohydrates in maltitol. Those who consume maltitol on a diet plan or in their regular diets should be aware of its negative side effects.
Stomach and Abdominal Pain
The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition notes that maltitol is associated with stomach and abdominal pain in adults. A placebo controlled, double-blind study on health volunteers showed that consuming levels as low as 40 g of maltitol daily would trigger side effects of abdominal pain.
According to the Calorie Control Council, maltitol shares the laxative qualities of other sugar alcohol blends. As a result, those who take maltitol can expect the regularity of their bowel movements to change. The levels of maltitol needed daily to cause diarrhea vary depending on the age of the person eating maltitol.
While the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition offers that Maltitol levels for children have an ideal tolerance of no more than 15 g daily, a European Journal of Clinical Nutrition study shows that diarrhea occurs at daily consumption levels 60 - 90 g in adults. The study also notes that the more Maltitol is consumed, the more likely and more severe symptoms of diarrhea will be.
Excessive Gas and Flatulence
Eating products or medications that contain maltitol has been linked with excessive internal gas and flatulence in adults and children. This is considered to be one of the more common negative side effects of maltitol, but it is not considered to be a severe side effect in adults, notes the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition also notes that this side effect is present but not considered serious in children who consume maltitol. This negative side effect will continue as long as maltitol is being eaten, as the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition notes that the body's digestive system does not adapt to the artificial sweetener.
- Calorie Control Council: Maltitol
- European Journal of Clinical Nutrition: A Digestive Tolerance Study of Maltitol
- International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition: Short-Term Digestive Tolerance of Chocolate Formulated with Maltitol in Children
- NYU Langone Medical Center: What to Eat if You Have Diabetes