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Is Aspartame really harmful?

Posted on April 21, 2018 | No Comments on Is Aspartame really harmful?

Aspartame was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1981 as a sweetener and flavor enhancer.  Before and after its approval, scientific evidence from more than 30 years of extensive research and over 200 studies on animals and humans have attested to its safety.  These investigations included evaluations of alleged adverse effects.  These evaluations did not show a causal link between aspartame and the adverse effects.Acceptable daily intake (ADI) of aspartame as set by the FDA is 50 milligrams per kilogram body weight of an individual.  This ADI is the number that represents the amount of aspartame that a person can consume daily for a lifetime without suffering any ill effects.  For example, a 132-pound man can safely ingest about 3000 mg of aspartame a day, which is approximately 82 packets of the sweetener or 18 cans of diet soda daily. Please be aware though the diet soda may also contain sodium and caffeine which can cause health problems in excess.

It is true aspartame consists of phenylalanine, aspartic acid and methanol, however, so does a regular diet containing milk, meat, dried beans, fruits and vegetables.  In fact, an 8-ounce glass of milk contains six times more phenylalanine and 13 times more aspartic acid than eight ounces of aspartame-sweetened soda.  An 8-ounce glass of fruit juice contains three to five times more methanol than an equivalent amount of diet soda.  A cup of tomato juice has 6 times more methanol than a cup of aspartame-sweetened soft drink.  One would have to take 675 to 1690 cans of diet soda at one sitting to reach the toxic level of methanol.

There is no evidence that aspartame causes multiple sclerosis, seizures, lupus or cancer.  Studies done in animals with intakes equivalent to consuming 1000 cans of diet soda daily for two years did not show an increase in risk of developing brain tumors.  Well-controlled studies have also concluded that aspartame does not cause changes in mood, cognition or behavior, including memory loss.

Aspartame intake is also safe for patients with diabetes.  Well-controlled studies have also shown that it does not cause weight gain.  Major diabetic associations accept aspartame to be safe.

There is one set of patients where intake of aspartame should be avoided.  Patients who suffer from phenylketonuria, a rare inherited disease wherein one is unable to metabolize phenylalanine properly should try to avoid intake of this amino acid.  In summary, one should not be unnecessarily alarmed about ingesting aspartame.  It is widely held by experts and regulatory bodies worldwide to be safe.

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