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What are the Different Maltitol Side Effects?

By Helena Reimer
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The most common side effects of maltitol, a sugar alcohol used as a sugar substitute, include gas, abdominal bloating, diarrhea, dehydration and headaches. Maltitol contains large molecules that are not readily digested by the body. When the body is unable to digest a molecule, it travels from the small intestine into the large intestine, where it is fermented. The side effects often begin during this fermentation and can vary from person to person. Some may not experience any negative side effects at all, while others may experience them to the point of illness.

Maltitol is used in many reduced-calorie and sugar-free foods. It is almost as sweet as regular sugar and contains fewer calories. Therefore, it is often used as a sugar substitute by those who are trying to lose weight. The down side, however, is that it is an artificial sweetener, which puts people who use it at risk for gaining more weight around the waistline.

Diarrhea, gas and bloating are the most common maltitol side effects, because maltitol acts as a laxative. This is often the case when it is consumed in amounts that exceed 20 grams a day. Dehydration may also be present in cases of diarrhea. This is a result of the amount of fluid that is lost during that time. The diarrhea and the symptoms associated with it should disappear once the maltitol has left the body.

Maltitol can cause headaches for some people, especially when taken on an empty stomach. Therefore, it is a good idea to eat other foods prior to eating foods laced with maltitol. Consuming maltitol in large amounts throughout the day can also contribute to headaches. Other maltitol side effects include severe abdominal cramping, vomiting and nausea.

The side effects of maltitol become worse as the intake of it is increased. This means it should always be taken in moderation. If consuming it for the first time, one should only consume a very small amount to see if any maltitol side effects will occur. Some people may develop a tolerance to maltitol over a period of three to four days when it is taken daily.

One of the good maltitol side effects is that the acids in the mouth do not break it down, so it does not contribute to cavities the way natural sugar does. Another benefit is that it is absorbed into the body at a slower rate than other sugars. As a result, it may be a better choice for some diabetics, because it does not spike blood sugar levels as high as other sugars do.

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Discussion Comments

By anon994239 — On Jan 26, 2016

I consumed sugar free Hershey chocolate chips (I thought they were sugar free because no added sugar) and I broke out with hives and a bad rash. I also have shortness of breath. I am also allergic to Aspartame, Splenda, Sucralose and other sweeteners.

I have had Lupus, bleeding kidneys, arthritis, swollen liver, severe hives that bruised my skin and severe asthma. I had to go to several doctors to find out what was wrong with me.

When I stayed away from sweeteners, I was fine. All my symptoms would go away. Yesterday I didn't know Maltitol was a sweetener, and within an hour of eating a hand full of chocolate chips, I broke out in hives and a rash very bad. I looked up the ingredients in the Hershey chips and found out Malitol is a sweetener. I have not had a bad reaction in a while because I try to stay away from all that stuff. These are all chemicals and they need to be taken out of foods and drinks. They are hidden in kids fruit drinks, jello, fruit cups, chocolate, other drinks and etc and they read not to be sugar free. I have to read the labels on everything. Even McDonald's mochas have sweetener in there.

I have had a reaction every time. I didn't know that until I looked up the ingredients myself. If you can't pronounce a word in the ingredient or never heard of it, more than likely it is a chemical or something not healthy.

By anon989308 — On Mar 01, 2015

I used maltitol for years. I knew my tolerance level and just never went over that amount of cookies/candies, until I had a severe reaction after eating one cookie over what I knew to eat. What I expected was heavy duty gas cramps and diarrhea if I had any reaction at all.

I was wrong. I didn't know that I had a gall tone and that changed everything in how my body reacted. The gas and bloating didn't have a place to go. X-rays showed gas bubbles literally scattered throughout my body from my neck to my pelvis. And because of the gall stone my body was not pushing it out.

I will never eat the stuff again. It is not worth the months of suffering. Sometimes you just don't know what else is happening in your body and why take the chance.

By anon981432 — On Dec 11, 2014

Recently, I started getting severe gas/stomach cramps that kept me up all night several times per week. I was worried that something was really wrong with me, like stomach cancer or IBS. I also had frequent diarrhea.

Turns out it's probably due to the new box of sugar free chocolate squares containing maltitol. One serving (3 squares) contains 12g of maltitol. Most days I ate one or two. Since I quit eating the maltitol chocolates (going back to my conventional sugar sweetened dark chocolates), I haven't had any cramping or diarrhea. So, 4-8 g of maltitol can trigger problems for me, apparently.

By anon980792 — On Dec 07, 2014

Maltitol has the worst side effects for me of anything I've ever eaten. If you have hemorrhoids, they will bleed like never before.

By Rundocuri — On Feb 01, 2014

I've heard that artificial sweeteners are no better for your than real sugar. Though they are necessary for people who have to cut back on sugar because of various health conditions, it's best to eat them in moderation. Also, if you have side effects to one type of artificial sweetener, there are many others to experiment with until you find one that tastes good and doesn't cause issues.

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