Pectin is a type of fiber that is commonly added to foods in order to enhance absorption and add fiber to your diet. Pectin may also be taken as a nutritional supplement that is made primarily from apple fiber. Pectin is also used as a thickening agent for many types of jams and jellies, and it can be extracted from many types of citrus fruits. Excess ingestion of fiber products, including pectin, may have side effects, including bloating, diarrhea, decrease in appetite, and mineral depletion.
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Pectin may cause bloating and gas in your intestinal tract, which may lead to discomfort and abdominal pain. The fiber in pectin does not get digested and absorbed because of the natural absence of the necessary enzymes that break down fiber in your small intestine. The build up of fiber in your small and large intestines can create hydrogen and carbon dioxide gases. These gases can lead to the bloating and abdominal pain you feel when you need to pass gas.
As a fiber supplement, pectin acts as a cleaner for your intestinal tract, which may cause diarrhea in some people, especially if your pectin intake is high. With large amounts of fiber in your diet, some nutrients may not get absorbed by your intestinal tract. The malabsorption of nutrients in your intestines may lead to diarrhea. "The Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements" states that consuming adequate amounts of water when taking a fiber supplement, like pectin, may reduce the risk of developing diarrhea.
Decrease in Appetite
The fiber contained in pectin can be very dense and expand inside your stomach. When fiber expands, it puts light pressure on the walls of your stomach, which trigger receptors along your digestive tract to signal your brain that you are full. As a result, pectin and other fiber supplements can cause a decrease in appetite and may result in unintended weight loss.
As the fiber from pectin moves through your digestive system, it may block the absorption of certain essential minerals into your blood stream. The uptake of calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc may be decreased because they may become trapped amongst the fiber particles in your intestinal tract and, as a result, cannot pass through the walls of your intestine and into the blood. In order to ensure adequate absorption of minerals, take pectin and mineral vitamins separately.
- "The New Encyclopedia of Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements, and Herbs"; Nicola Reavley; 1999
- "Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements"; Michael T. Murray; 1996
- "Human Anatomy and Physiology"; Elaine Marieb; 2004