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What Is Sodium Starch Glycolate?

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What Is Sodium Starch Glycolate?
A large pile of sodium starch glycolate. Photo Credit: YelenaYemchuk/iStock/Getty Images

Sodium starch glycolate is a white powder that doesn't really smell or taste like anything. It can be made from a number of different starchy foods, including corn, wheat, rice and potatoes. Although it isn't likely to cause any side effects in most people, depending on the source it could cause adverse effects for certain individuals.

Use and Considerations

Pharmaceutical companies add sodium starch glycolate to capsules and tablets to help make them disintegrate and dissolve better, making it easier for your body to absorb the medication. It does this by absorbing water quickly so the pill swells and breaks apart into small pieces. It can also be used to help form gels. People who are gluten intolerant or who have celiac disease may experience adverse effects if they consume medications made with a wheat-based sodium starch glycolate. These medications contain gluten. Look for medications labeled gluten-free or call the manufacturer to verify which type of sodium starch glycolate is in a medication to avoid accidentally ingesting gluten. Those with a corn allergy should also take steps to determine the source of sodium starch glycolate before using medications that contain this substance.

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