By Steve Born
Over the past few months, Hammer Nutrition has received a number of questions regarding sorbitol and why we use it in Endurolytes Fizz, including a recent email from a client (paraphrased):
"From what I am gathering, the sorbitol in your Endurolytes Fizz is NOT sourced to be non-GMO. Is that correct? And is it correct that sorbitol is always made from corn (as well as fruits and seaweed)?
I suggest that your company might consider just letting people sweeten a product like this themselves, since we who are concerned for health all have our favorite sweeteners. Also, I'll bet most are suspicious of the industry's sweeteners that have names like "sorbitol" that, even if they are of natural origins, are highly processed. I myself would prefer to buy a product like Endurolytes Fizz with no sweetener, and add my own. I wonder how many people like me will pass on a product when they see "sorbitol" on the list of ingredients."
In response, we want to share some information about sorbitol and the rationale behind its inclusion in the Endurolytes Fizz formula. Hopefully this will address any concerns that you may have regarding sorbitol.
Our reply/thoughts regarding sorbitol
Where does sorbitol come from? - The sorbitol used in Endurolytes Fizz, and in the overwhelming majority of products that contain sorbitol, is derived from corn. However, it can be produced from other sources, though to my knowledge this is rare.
Is it non-GMO? - We have obtained a letter of GMO Certification verifying that the sorbitol in Endurolytes Fizz is not produced from, nor consists of, genetically modified organisms.
You can rest assured that we only use the finest ingredients in our fuels and supplements. Neither we nor our manufacturers cut corners when it comes to the sourcing of raw materials and ensuring quality control procedures.
Shying away from a product that contains sorbitol? - Sorbitol is a much more acceptable, healthy choice in comparison to artificial sweeteners such as Acesulfame K or aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, and similar refined sugars. As a sweetener, it's an especially good choice for an effervescent product because its dissolution time is significantly less than other sweeteners, such as xylitol. However, sorbitol's primary role in Endurolytes Fizz is as a tablet binder, and only secondarily as a flavor sweetener. Other companies use chemicals such as polyethylene glycol (used when making antifreeze) in their tablet-making process; sorbitol is an unquestionably better option.
Unsweetened fuels vs. flavored, sweetened fuels? - The overwhelming majority of athletes we communicate with want some sweetness/flavor in their sports drink, energy gel, and other fuels. In addition, the natural taste of electrolyte minerals is not very pleasant - most people would agree! In fact, some minerals taste downright awful. That's why we sweeten/flavor Endurolytes Fizz with a small amount of sorbitol, stevia, and natural flavors.
If a completely unflavored electrolyte replenishment product is desired, your best option would be to use Endurolytes Powder. This form of Endurolytes contains no flavors or sweeteners; we simply add a small amount of glycine, a naturally sweet amino acid, to help take the edge off the taste of the minerals.
Additional information regarding sorbitol
Sorbitol is classified as a sugar alcohol (polyol) and has properties similar to xylitol, another sugar alcohol commonly used as a sweetener. Like xylitol, sorbitol offers the following benefits and attributes:
1) One-third fewer calories than other carbohydrates (2.6 calories per gram versus 4 calories per gram).
2) Roughly 60% sweeter than sucrose (table sugar), so only a small amount is necessary to sweeten a product.
3) Non-carriogenic and does not contribute to dental plaque or dental carries. It is resistant to metabolism by bacteria in the oral cavity.
4) Naturally produced in the body and occurs naturally in many foods including fruits and berries. (NOTE: Sorbitol is derived primarily from the trees of the genus Sorbus.)
Large amounts of sorbitol or xylitol can produce a laxative effect. Realize however, that this usually requires mega-gram amounts taken at one time, not the vastly smaller amounts found in our xylitol- and sorbitolcontaining fuels. On average, each Endurolytes Fizz tablet contains approximately 500 mg of sorbitol. What's interesting to note is that a single stick of many brands of sugar-free gum contains 1,250 mg of sorbitol, more than double the amount in each tablet of Endurolytes Fizz.
The safety of sorbitol
Sorbitol's safety is supported by numerous studies. In developing the current U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation that affirms sorbitol as GRAS ("Generally Recognized as Safe"), the safety data was carefully evaluated by qualified scientists of the Select Committee on GRAS Substances, selected by the Life Sciences Office of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). In the opinion of the Select Committee, there was no evidence demonstrating a hazard when sorbitol was used at current levels or at levels that might be expected in the future. The FDA's regulation for sorbitol requires the following label statement for foods with a reasonably foreseeable consumption resulting in the daily ingestion of 50 grams or more of sorbitol: "Excess consumption may have a laxative effect."
The Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/ World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) reviewed the safety data and concluded that sorbitol is safe. JECFA has established an acceptable daily intake (ADI) for sorbitol of "not specified," meaning no limits are placed on its use. An ADI "not specified" is the safest category in which JECFA can place a food ingredient. JECFA's decisions are often adopted by many small countries that do not have their own agencies to review food additive safety.
The Scientific Committee for Food of the European Union (EU) published a comprehensive assessment of sweeteners in 1985, concluding that sorbitol is acceptable for use, also without setting a limit on its use.
Sorbitol, like xylitol and stevia, is an undeniably healthier sweetener than the artificial substances or refined sugars that far too many companies include in their products. That's precisely why - along with the natural flavors we use - these healthy sweeteners are included in Hammer Nutrition fuels. Sorbitol, because of its dual superior tablet-binding and sweetening properties, is the logical, healthier choice for Endurolytes Fizz. HN