Xylitol is a type of naturally-occurring alcohol that is used as a sweetener.

What are the health benefits of xyitol?

Xylitol granules are a popular sugar replacement used in beverages and baking. It’s also used in chewing gums, toothpaste and medicines.

While xylitol has a sweetness that is equivalent to sugar, it only has two-thirds of the kilojoules. Besides being lower in kilojoules than sugar, making it attractive to those on a weight-loss regime, xylitol also has the following health benefits:

  • Dental benefits, such as preventing tooth decay and lowering the formation of cavities.
  • Assisting in the management of blood sugar levels in those affected by diabetes, as it is absorbed slower than sugar.
  • In some cases, xylitol may assist in preventing the occurence of acute middle ear infections in pre-school children.

Find it in these sources

Xylitol is found naturally in many fruits and vegetables, and is often extracted from birch trees.

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA)

When used to reduce the occurrence of ear infections in children, between 8.4 and 10g of xylitol can be consumed daily in the form of chewing gum, syrup, or lozenges.

Used to prevent cavities in both children and adults, doses of between 7 and 20g of xylitol can be consumed in the form of chewing gum or sweets.

However, discuss availability and recommended dosages with your Clicks pharmacist first.


Xylitol is generally considered safe if consumed in moderate amounts of no more than 50g per day. However, consuming excessive amounts of xylitol over an extended period of time may cause tumours.

The effects of taking xylitol during pregnancy is unknown, so women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should rather avoid xylitol as a precaution.

Possible side effects

Xylitol’s side effects include diarrhoea and gas.

Ensure you discuss dietary supplementation with your Clicks pharmacist to avoid the potential for side effects and adverse interactions with medications.

This medicine has not been evaluated by the Medicines Control Council. This medicine is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

The accuracy of this information was checked and approved by Clicks' pharmacist Waheed Abdurahman in September 2015