Tolerance to subchronic, high-dose ingestion of erythritol in human volunteers

Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 1996 Oct;24(2 Pt 2):S286-95. doi: 10.1006/rtph.1996.0110.


Erythritol is a sugar alcohol (polyol) which is absorbed from the small intestine in substantial amounts, not metabolized in the human body, and therefore excreted in the urine. Erythritol holds promise as a low-calorie sugar substitute. Human tolerance to repeated oral doses of erythritol was examined in a double-blind, two-way crossover study in 12 healthy, male volunteers. The participants consumed erythritol and, for comparison, sucrose for a duration of 7 days each. The daily dose of the test compounds ingested was 0.3 g/kg on Day 1, 0.6 g/kg on Day 2, and 1.0 g/kg on subsequent days. The daily dose was consumed under supervision in five portions, i.e., with the three main meals, a midmorning snack, and during the afternoon. The test compounds were incorporated into yoghurt, cookies, soft drinks, and chocolate. On each treatment day, body weight and blood pressure were measured and the participants were interviewed about side effects and their perception of stool and urine production. During the last 96 hr of each treatment period, urine was collected at 3-hr intervals during the day and for a 9-hr interval overnight for analysis of erythritol and different urinary parameters. On Days 3 to 7 of each treatment period, the participants were institutionalized. Body weights and blood pressure remained stable during the entire study. Signs of gastrointestinal intolerance were not seen and stool frequency and appearance were not different between the two treatments. The intake of liquids, which were provided ad libitum, was generally rather high (32.8 g/kg body wt/day on average) but not different between erythritol and sucrose consumption. Urine output also was high during both treatment periods. About 78% of ingested erythritol was excreted in the urine which led to a higher urinary osmolality but did not influence the 24-hr output of creatinine, citrate, urea, or electrolytes (Na+, K+, Cl-, Pi). The excretion of calcium was slightly higher during the erythritol test period but in absolute terms this increase was small. The urinary excretions of albumin, beta 2-microglobulin, and N-acetyl-glucosaminidase were slightly elevated during the erythritol test period but they were still well within the physiological range. None of the observed urinary changes became more pronounced with increasing duration of the erythritol treatment. In conclusion, the results of the present study demonstrate that the repeated ingestion of erythritol at daily doses of 1 g/kg body wt was well tolerated by humans.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Digestive System / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Erythritol / adverse effects*
  • Erythritol / pharmacology*
  • Erythritol / urine
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / chemically induced
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Sucrose / pharmacology
  • Sweetening Agents / adverse effects*
  • Sweetening Agents / metabolism
  • Sweetening Agents / pharmacology*
  • Time Factors
  • Urine / chemistry


  • Sweetening Agents
  • Sucrose
  • Erythritol