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What Does Dextrose Do to Your Body?

author image Allison Adams
Allison Adams has worked as a registered dietitian since 1996. She began writing professionally in 2000, with work featured in a variety of medical publications such as "Women's Health Magazine" and the "New England Journal of Medicine." Adams holds a Master of Science in nutrition and food sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
What Does Dextrose Do to Your Body?
A pile of colorful cookies. Photo Credit Sasa Komlen/iStock/Getty Images

Dextrose, also known as glucose, is a carbohydrate (specifically a simple sugar) that plays a central role in providing energy to your cells. Through a series of reactions, your body breaks down dextrose into smaller molecules, releasing energy that your cells require to function. Your body also converts dextrose into long-term stores of energy.

The Physiology of Glucose

A carbohydrate-rich meal causes large quantities of glucose to enter your bloodstream. The beta-cells in your pancreas sense this rise in blood glucose and release insulin. Insulin causes specific transporters in your body to import glucose. At the same time, liver cells also take in glucose via a different glucose transporter. In both your liver and muscle cells, a key enzyme activates and produces glycogen. This results in the reduction of blood glucose levels in your body and the storage of excess glucose as glycogen.

Importance of Glucose

Adenosine triphosphate is the most important molecule for capturing, transiently storing and subsequently transferring energy to perform work. All synthesis of ATP in your cells results from the chemical transformation of energy-rich compounds in your diet such as glucose and starch. Glucose or dextrose is the principal source of energy in humans and the only source of energy for the fetus and for glucose-dependant organs such as the retina, erythrocytes, gonads and brain.

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Glucose and Insulin

The plasma glucose-lowering hormone insulin and the plasma glucose-raising hormones glucagon and epinephrine determine the rate that glucose enters and leaves your system. Insulin favors the uptake of glucose by the liver, muscle and adipose tissue. Additionally, insulin stimulates the formation of glycogen and inhibits the formation of new glucose and the breakdown of glycogen. Glucose and insulin also produce fatty acids in your liver. Further, glucose increases the production of proteins and amino acid uptake by muscles.

Dextrose Post Workout

Bodybuilders and athletes can use dextrose supplements to produce an insulin spike after workouts. This insulin spike induces the formation of glycogen in muscle cells lost during training. However, because dextrose can also create stores of fat when consumed rapidly, you should always consume dextrose supplements gradually with lots of water and sodium. Additionally, you should speak with a medical professional prior to consuming any health supplements including dextrose-based supplements.

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  • "A Manual of Sugar Analysis Including the Applications in General of Analytical Methods to the Sugar Industry: With an Introduction on the Chemistry of Cane-Sugar, Dextrose, Levulose and Milk-Sugar"; J.H. Tucker; 2009
  • "Molecular Cell Biology"; Harvey Lodish et al; 2007
  • "Molecular Biology of the Cell"; Bruce Albert et al; 2007
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