What is Aspartame?
Although true that the sweetener had many allegations and controversy in the past years, there are no extensive tests made to prove that Aspartame is bad for your health.
Aspartame contains the building blocks of proteins, amino acids, aspartic acid, and phenylalanine. It is usually sold under the name of the brands NutraSweet and Equal and widely used by the foods labeled as the diet food. It is also available as a tabletop sweetener and found in different products and beverages, including soda, juice, and flavored waters. It is also present in nutrition bars and desserts like sugar-free puddings and gelatins, light ice creams, and popsicles, and dairy products like flavored milk, even if they are in low-fat, and light yogurts. Chewing gums, syrups and condiments, and sauce also contain Aspartame. Even the prescription and some over-the-counter medicines, including chewable vitamins, contain Aspartame for these things to increase palatability.
When Aspartame is ingested, it becomes broken down into amino acids and a small part of methanol, which is a food substance naturally and usually found in vegetables and fruits. With the same function as a cube of sugar, Aspartame is composed of 4 calories in a gram, but since this medicine is sweeter than sugar, even just a small amount of it will match the sweetness the sugar is providing. Due to this, the calories per serving of Aspartame is much lower, and it is blended with little carbohydrates to match the volume and the flavor that the sugar can provide. This is the reason why a pack of this substance matches the quantity of sugar.
Despite the claims of many that Aspartame is not suitable for the health, many regulatory agencies and also health organizations have given their approval on it. Not only did the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), agencies like the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, World Health Organization, American Heart Association, and American Diabetic Association have leaned on the positive effects of Aspartame.
With it being 200 times sweeter than sugar, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has recommended an acceptable daily intake of Aspartame. According to the FDA, 50 milligrams per kilogram of your body weight, while EFSA states 40 mg is acceptable.
With a can of diet soda, a person will have an intake of 185 milligrams of Aspartame. An average of more than 18 cans of soda would a 150-pound or a 68-kilogram person need to exceed the recommended FDA intake in a day. For the EFSA recommendation, they would need to drink nearly 15 cans of soda to be able to exceed it.
Aspartame, however, is not suitable for people who have a condition called Phenylketonuria (PKU). This is also not recommended to people who take medicine for schizophrenia.
For people with Phenylketonuria
Phenylketonuria is a condition where there is an inborn error in the metabolism of a person, which results in the reduced metabolism of an amino acid called phenylalanine. This means that people with Phenylketonuria have too much phenylalanine in their blood, which can lead to disability, seizures, behavior problems, and other mental problems. Phenylalanine is also a kind of amino acid that is essential in the body and usually found in protein-sourced food like meat, eggs, fish, and dairy. It is also vital in the production of Aspartame.
If you have this condition, your body will not be able to process the phenylalanine properly, and this will be highly toxic for you.
For people with Tardive dyskinesia
The condition of Tardive dyskinesia is one of the thought side effects of some of the schizophrenia medicines. This includes involuntary muscle movements like twitching, thrusting, and grimacing. The phenylalanine contained in Aspartame may cause the agitation to worsen and may lead to more uncontrolled muscle movements.
There are other anti-aspartame activists claims that there is a direct link between the medicine aspartame and a lot of ailments like cancer, seizures, headaches, depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), nausea and dizziness, weight gain, congenital disabilities if taken during pregnancy, lupus, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis (MS).
Many activists have claimed these, but there is still no finished research to confirm nor to invalidate the direct connections of the ailments and the substance. Currently, studies are proven to be inconsistent because some have results of increased risk in symptoms, disease acceleration while some have reported no harmful effects on aspartame intake.
Substance dosage of Aspartame
In the country of the United States, every artificial sweetener, like Aspartame, is federally regulated by the FDA. All of these products are tested to ensure the safety of it before the people can use it. The FDA also has only allowed an acceptable daily intake of the sweetener considered safe to consume each day during a person’s lifetime.
The FDA has set the ADI for Aspartame at 50 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg; 1 kg=2.2 lb) of body weight per day.
The FDA has warned about products that may contain sugar-free. These products most likely contain artificial sweeteners, like Aspartame. Some of the products include daily consumption necessities like diet soda, gelatin, breakfast cereal, gum, sugar-free candies, sugar-free ice cream, sugar-free cocoa mix, low-calorie yoghurt, reduced-calorie fruit juices, and many others. Laxatives, cough medicines and even chewable vitamin supplements also most like contain Aspartame to make it more palatable.
It is always a requirement to check with your doctor if it is okay for you to take Aspartame daily. If you are taking in medications, or you are planning to use any over the counter products while taking Aspartame, the effects of it may be slightly different. Taking it in might increase your risk of having a side-effect or maybe the cause why the drug or medication you will take in is not working.
It is best to tell your doctor about all kinds of drugs that you are taking in, including vitamins, herbal supplements, and other drugs, so your physician will be able to help you prevent and manage the interaction of drugs and Aspartame. Drugs like Nitisinone, Phenylalanine, and Tyrosine may have interaction with other medications and products.
Warnings and Precautions
One of the significant contraindications to Aspartame is hypersensitivity. With this, the substance shall never be used if you are experiencing either pediatrics or if you are pregnant.
Aspartame is one of the low-calorie sweeteners in the market used to sweeten further a wide range of low and reduced calories of food and beverages that includes tabletop sweeteners.
What to do when you miss a dose if Aspartame
There are times that you will miss a dose, you must take it as soon as you notice. If, in any case, that it is already very close to the supposed time of your next dose, skip the one you missed, and proceed to the next dosing schedule. Never use an extra dose of Aspartame to make up for the missed dose. One of the useful tips to remember if you are regularly missing a dose is to consider setting up an alarm using your phone. You can also try asking a friend or a family member to remind you that you are supposed to take it. If you are having a hard time taking in your medicine during its supposed dose, you can try to talk to your doctor in changing your dosing schedule. They can easily make a new schedule for the missed doses that you have recently lost.
Indication and dosage
To avoid the overdosage of Aspartame, just as in any other medication, never take in more than the prescribed dose. If you are considering to take more of the medicine, do not do it, because it will not improve your symptoms. Alternately, it will only make it worse. It can even cause poisoning or may have some severe side-effects for you.
If, in any case, that you are suspecting anyone of being overdosed with Aspartame, it is necessary to contact the nearest emergency department or bring the person to the nearest hospital. Bringing a medicine box with labels will be a great help for the doctors to attain the necessary information.
You must also remember that Aspartame is a federally regulated drug. You must not give your medicine to other people even though you think they have the same condition, or even slightly similar conditions. This can lead to overdosage or wrong diagnosis.
It is also necessary to always consult your physician and pharmacist about the product for more information.