Chewing gum may be effective for delivering vitamins

October 10, 2018, Pennsylvania State University
The research marks the first time that researchers closely scrutinized vitamin delivery from chewing gum, according to Joshua Lambert, professor of food science in the College of Agricultural Sciences. Credit: ISTOCK PHOTO IPAG

Nearly 15 percent of all chewing gum varieties sold promise to provide health-enhancing supplements to users, so Penn State researchers studied whether two vitamin-supplemented products were effective at delivering vitamins to the body. Their results validate the concept of gum as an effective delivery system for at least some vitamins.

The research marks the first time that researchers closely scrutinized vitamin delivery from , according to Joshua Lambert, professor of food science in the College of Agricultural Sciences. The findings, he suggests, indicate that chewing gum—a pleasant habit for many—could be a strategy to help reduce vitamin deficiency around the world, a problem described as an epidemic.

Even in the United States vitamin deficiency is a serious problem, with nearly one in 10 people over the age of 1 deficient in vitamins B6 and C, according to a recent analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

"I was slightly surprised that no one had done a study like this before given the number of supplement-containing gum products on the market," Lambert said. "But there is no requirement that nutritional gums be tested for efficacy, since they fall into the category of dietary supplements."

To find out if supplemented gum contributes vitamins to chewers' bodies, researchers had 15 people chew two off-the-shelf supplemented gums and measured the levels of eight vitamins released into their saliva. In a separate experiment on the same subjects, the researchers measured the levels of seven vitamins in their plasma.

The researchers used an identical gum product—minus the vitamin supplements—as a placebo in the study.

Lambert and colleagues found that retinol (A1), thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacinamide (B3), pyridoxine (B6), folic acid, cyanocobalamin (B12), ascorbic acid (C), and alpha-tocopherol (E) were released into the saliva of study participants who chewed the supplemented gums. After chewing the supplemented gums, study participants' blood plasma vitamin concentrations, depending on which supplemented gum they chewed, were increased for retinol, by 75 to 96 percent; pyridoxine, 906 to 1,077 percent; ascorbic acid, 64 to 141 percent; and alpha-tocopherol, 418 to 502 percent, compared to the placebo.

For the most part, the research demonstrated that water-soluble vitamins such as vitamins B6 and C were increased in the plasma of participants who chewed supplemented gum compared to participants who chewed the placebo gum. In supplemented gum chewers, researchers also saw increases in the plasma of several fat-soluble vitamins such as the vitamin-A derivative retinol and the vitamin-E derivative alpha tocopherol.

That was the most significant finding of the study, Lambert pointed out. At least for the products tested, the water-soluble vitamins were almost completely extracted from the gum during the process of chewing. The fat-soluble vitamins were not completely released from the gum.

"Improving the release of fat-soluble vitamins from the gum base is an area for future development for the manufacturer," he said.

Lambert offered one caution about the findings, which were published online this month in the Journal of Functional Foods.

"This study was done in an acute setting—for a day we have shown that chewing supplemented gum bumps up levels in blood plasma," he said. "But we haven't shown that this will elevate plasma levels for vitamins long-term. Ideally, that would be the next study. Enroll people who have some level of deficiency for some of the vitamins in supplemented gum and have them chew it regularly for a month to see if that raises levels of the vitamins in their blood."

Explore further: Most popular vitamin and mineral supplements provide no health benefit, study finds

More information: Weslie Y. Khoo et al. Vitamin-supplemented chewing gum can increase salivary and plasma levels of a panel of vitamins in healthy human participants, Journal of Functional Foods (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.jff.2018.09.026

Related Stories

Most popular vitamin and mineral supplements provide no health benefit, study finds

May 28, 2018
The most commonly consumed vitamin and mineral supplements provide no consistent health benefit or harm, suggests a new study led by researchers at St. Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto.

Negative effects of vitamins on voles cast doubt on health supplement benefits

July 8, 2013
Vitamin C and vitamin E dramatically reduce the lifespan of voles, biologists have found, raising questions about the benefits of vitamins as a health supplement.

Omega-3 levels affect whether B vitamins can slow brain's decline

January 19, 2016
While research has already established that B vitamin supplements can help slow mental decline in older people with memory problems, an international team have now found that having higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids in ...

Excessive vitamin intake in pregnant rats impacts food choices in offspring

March 19, 2015
A research group at the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Medicine has been using a rat model to see how maternal intake of above-requirement vitamins (A, D, E, and K) impact offspring's ...

Pregnant women deficient in vitamin D may give birth to obese children

February 13, 2018
Vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women could preprogram babies to grow into obese children and adults, according to a Keck School of Medicine of USC-led study.

Can vitamin B supercharge your dreams?

September 23, 2015
A University of Adelaide researcher is calling for participants to assist in a new national study investigating whether vitamin B can enhance dreaming.

Recommended for you

Juul e-cigarettes pose addiction risk for young users, study finds

October 19, 2018
Teens and young adults who use Juul brand e-cigarettes are failing to recognize the product's addictive potential, despite using it more often than their peers who smoke conventional cigarettes, according to a new study by ...

Self-lubricating latex could boost condom use: study

October 17, 2018
A perpetually unctuous, self-lubricating latex developed by a team of scientists in Boston could boost the use of condoms, they reported Wednesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

Engineered enzyme eliminates nicotine addiction in preclinical tests

October 17, 2018
Scientists at Scripps Research have successfully tested a potential new smoking-cessation treatment in rodents.

Nutrition has a greater impact on bone strength than exercise

October 17, 2018
One question that scientists and fitness experts alike would love to answer is whether exercise or nutrition has a bigger positive impact on bone strength.

How healthy will we be in 2040?

October 17, 2018
A new scientific study of forecasts and alternative scenarios for life expectancy and major causes of death in 2040 shows all countries are likely to experience at least a slight increase in lifespans. In contrast, one scenario ...

Study finds evidence of intergenerational transmission of trauma among ex-POWs from the Civil War

October 16, 2018
A trio of researchers affiliated with the National Bureau of Economic Research has found evidence that suggests men who were traumatized while POWs during the U.S. Civil War transmitted that trauma to their offspring—many ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.