Xylitol, The Sugar Substitute with Health Benefits?

Updated: July 12, 2023

Xylitol the sugar substitute

Reviewed By:
Lara Pizzorno – AlgaeCal Scientific Advisory Board Member
Best-selling author of Healthy Bones Healthy You! and Your Bones; Editor of Longevity Medicine Review, and Senior Medical Editor for Integrative Medicine Advisors.

Are you in the mood for something sweet — but without the guilt? Then you’ll be amazed to know that there’s a natural sugar with a list of health benefits you won’t believe! 

That’s right. You can enjoy the sweet taste of sugar minus the health issues that come with it. This natural sugar gives you the best of both worlds.

So don’t settle for sugar with a downside — go ahead and indulge in this bone healthy alternative and reap all the benefits!

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol (rolled off the tongue like zy-luh-tol) is like a godsend of natural sweetness. This naturally occurring sugar alcohol is found in small amounts in fruits, vegetables, and mushrooms.

Contrary to the term, a sugar alcohol isn’t a sugar or an alcohol, but rather a molecule derived from a sugar.

This miracle molecule dishes out the flavor you love without all the extra calories and blood glucose spikes of regular sweeteners. It’s like a secret weapon in the battle against sugar cravings and unwanted side effects. That’s why it’s been popping up more and more in products lately. It’s a sugar substitute like no other!

What is Xylitol Made From?

As mentioned, xylitol is found in small amounts in fruits and vegetables and can be sourced from oats and mushrooms.

But the amounts in these foods are insignificant for food, gum, and supplement companies to use. So instead they tend to source xylitol from either corn husks, the fibrous remains of sugar cane harvesting and/or hardwood trees, namely birch, as xylan.

4 Unexpected Xylitol Benefits

Fewer Calories

Craving the taste of sugar but don’t have the calories to spare? Good news. Xylitol has 40% fewer calories than regular sugar. While table sugar has 4 calories per gram, xylitol only has 2.4 calories.

In other words, a teaspoon of table sugar contains 16 calories compared to 9.6 calories in a teaspoon of xylitol. Now that may not seem like a lot. But when you consider the average American consumes 130 pounds or more of added sugar per year, it could make a huge difference [1].

Doesn’t Spike Blood Glucose

One of the most notable xylitol health benefits is that it doesn’t cause the same nasty spike to your blood glucose and insulin levels as sugar does [2]. This is why you will find it in many reduced sugar and low/no-carb products. 

It’s even recommended as a sugar substitute for people with diabetes or other problems related to carbohydrate metabolism. Now everyone can have their cake and eat it too.

Reduces Dental Decay and Cavities

So how exactly is xylitol good for your teeth? Well, unlike sugar, xylitol has surprisingly been shown to reduce dental decay and cavities. Because of its structure, pathogenic (bad) bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities can’t digest it.

In fact, the bad bacteria consumes xylitol and ultimately starves and ‘dies’. The good news is that your healthy bacteria doesn’t seem to be affected by xylitol. 

This, in turn, leads to healthy bacteria surviving, bad bacteria dying, and cavities being prevented. In fact, studies have shown that replacing sugar with xylitol or adding it on top of your diet can reduce tooth decay and cavities by as much as 30-85% [3]!

Boosts Collagen Production

This will perk you and your skin up if you’re worried about the appearance of aging: xylitol has been shown in animal studies to boost collagen production [4].

Collagen is a naturally occurring protein found in skin associated with a plump, youthful appearance. You’ve probably heard this term many times in beauty product and procedure commercials because as we get older, the body produces less collagen. Attempting to dip into the fountain of youth, beauty companies add it to their products.

Xylitol consumption has been shown to naturally increase collagen production [5]. How? It directly affects collagen synthesis (the process of creating collagen) by increasing hydroxyproline content, which plays a role in collagen stability. 

More collagen is a beautiful reason in and of itself to swap out products with added sugar for those with xylitol.

Xylitol and Bone Health

Another benefit of xylitol is that in rodent studies, it has been shown to increase bone strength by increasing calcium absorption and deposition into the bone matrix [6].

Several of these studies have been completed in rodents using a variety of methods and with the same results — an increase in bone density [7]. That makes swapping out sugar and other sugar alternatives for xylitol a potential benefit to your bones.

And remember how xylitol benefits your teeth? Well, if xylitol decreases cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth this is going to reduce oral inflammation associated with cavities and gum disease. 

More and more it looks like the key to great health and longevity is reducing inflammation, as it is the root of many diseases and promotes the progression of disease states. Swapping out sugar or other sugar additives for xylitol may be one way of increasing bone mass while curbing inflammation.

Comparison of Sugar Alternatives

We’ve discussed what xylitol is and its benefits. Now let’s compare it with other popular sugar substitutes.

comparison of sugar alternatives chart

Xylitol. Xylitol is equally sweet as sugar with 40% fewer calories and comes with a few health perks. Some xylitol health benefits include: a decrease in cavities, reduction in oral inflammation, increase in collagen and stronger bones. 

Stevia, Splenda, and aspartame are all significantly sweeter than sugar with zero calories, but without xylitol’s health benefits. Let’s take a look at how they compare…

Stevia. Stevia is 40 times sweeter than sugar but it yields zero calories. So it doesn’t elevate blood glucose levels. Interestingly some find that stevia sweetened products have a metallic or licorice-like aftertaste to them. 

Although stevia was once banned in the United States by the FDA, purified stevia extracts are now considered safe.

Splenda. The trademarked name for sucralose, Splenda, was originally thought to be the latest and great sugar alternative when it hit the market. But it’s recently fallen out of favor. Sucralose is 320 to 1,000 times sweeter than sugar and has zero calories.

While sucralose hasn’t been associated with any health benefits, it has been linked with some controversies regarding advertising and safety.

Aspartame. This zero-calorie artificial sweetener is about 200 times sweeter than sugar, but its uses are limited because it breaks down when heated. 

Also, aspartame breaks down to a molecule called phenylalanine, so it is not recommended for anyone with a condition called phenylketonuria (PKU). Some find that consuming aspartame gives them headaches. 

Sorbitol. Sorbitol, like xylitol, is a sugar alcohol. But unlike xylitol, it comes with more of a caution regarding digestion. 

It has a significant laxative effect and isn’t recommended for consumption in the elderly without clinical consultation. Sorbitol is not recommended for Individuals with celiac disease, IBS, ulcerative colitis and/or other issues affecting intestinal health.

Erythritol. Also a sugar alcohol, erythritol has about 70% of the sweetness of sugar and is considered zero-calorie. It has no lingering aftertaste and doesn’t spike blood sugar.

Its levels are typically more than 1,000-fold greater than levels found naturally in foods. And this is not good. In fact, researchers found that people who had more erythritol in their blood were at a higher risk for blood clotting, stroke, heart attack, and death [8][9].

Monk Fruit. Monk fruit extract is 150 to 200 times sweeter than sugar. This zero calorie sugar substitute gets its intense sweetness from unique antioxidants called mogrosides. To balance out its intensity, some manufacturers mix the extract with different sugars. 

But this can change the sweetener’s nutritional profile. Since monk fruit is hard to grow and costly to export, it’s not as widely available as other sweeteners. Also, it’s relatively new on the scene. As such, it has not been as well studied as other low-calorie sugar alternatives.

Xylitol Side Effects and Dosing

Because xylitol is naturally occurring, it’s safe to consume and generally well tolerated – although some side effects include bloating, nausea, gas, and diarrhea if you eat too much.

“Too much” is subjective, but for the most part amounts greater than 30 to 40 grams, or 7 to 10 teaspoons, of xylitol in a day would be regarded as the too much that causes gastric distress [10].

Slowly increasing the amount of xylitol you consume over time and breaking it up throughout the day is going to help circumvent or completely avoid digestive woes.

Xylitol poisoning in humans is rare. But it can have some potential harmful effects. Thankfully, for most people, these effects are minimal. 

When creating our Triple Power Omega 3 Fish Oil, we were searching for a sugar alternative that would not only add flavor, but also maximize the bone health benefits of the product. So we decided on xylitol.

Take Home Message

Xylitol is safe and contains 40% fewer calories than sugar with added health benefits to your skin, teeth, bones and overall health.

When it comes to choosing products like Triple Power Omega 3 Fish Oil, xylitol stands out as another reason to choose it over other products.

That and the sweet novelty of having a fish oil that you actually crave instead of dread.

To learn more about how to keep your bones happy and healthy, sign up for our newsletter for updates on the latest in bone health.


Is xylitol good or bad for you?

Xylitol is good for you. Some of its studied health benefits include: a decrease in cavities, reduction in oral inflammation, increase in collagen, and stronger bones.

Does xylitol really help teeth?

Yes, it does. In fact, studies have shown that replacing sugar with xylitol or adding it on top of your diet can reduce tooth decay and cavities by as much as 30-85% [3]!

Why isn’t xylitol more popular?

Compared to sugar, xylitol is more expensive.

Is xylitol natural or artificial?

Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol.

What is xylitol made from?

Xylitol is found in small amounts in fruits, vegetables, oats and mushrooms. It can also be sourced from either corn husks, the fibrous remains of sugar cane harvesting, and/or hardwood trees, namely birch, as xylan.

Is xylitol safe for consumption?

Yes, it’s safe to consume and generally well tolerated. But, there is one family member who cannot safely have any amount of xylitol. And that’s your dog. The most common form of xylitol poisoning in dogs is from sugar-free gum (that contains xylitol). So keep all xylitol and xylitol-containing food products and supplements out of your dog’s reach.


  1. https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/ag-and-food-statistics-charting-the-essentials/food-availability-and-consumption/
  2. Salminen, S., Salminen, E. & Marks, V. “The effects of xylitol on the secretion of insulin and gastric inhibitory polypeptide in man and rats.” Diabetologia 22, 480–482 (1982). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00282594
  3. A Scheinin, K K Mäkinen, E Tammisalo, M Rekola, “Turku sugar studies XVIII. Incidence of dental caries in relation to 1-year consumption of xylitol chewing gum” Clinical Trial Acta Odontol Scand., 1975;33(5):269-78. doi: 10.3109/00016357509004632   
  4. M L Knuuttila 1, T H Kuoksa, M J Svanberg, P T Mattila, K M Karjalainen, E Kolehmainen, “Effects of dietary xylitol on collagen content and glycosylation in healthy and diabetic rats” Life Sci. 2000 Jun 8;67(3):283-90. doi: 10.1016/s0024-3205(00)00621-4.
  5. Pauli T Mattila 1, Päivi Pelkonen, Matti L E Knuuttila, “Effects of a long-term dietary xylitol supplementation on collagen content and fluorescence of the skin in aged rats” Gerontology. 2005 May-Jun;51(3):166-9. doi: 10.1159/000083988.
  6. P T Mattila 1, M J Svanberg, M L Knuuttila, “Increased bone volume and bone mineral content in xylitol-fed aged rats” Gerontology. 2001 Nov-Dec;47(6):300-5. doi: 10.1159/000052818.
  7. Hirokazu Sato 1, Yoshiaki Ide 2, Masanori Nasu 3, Yukihiro Numabe 4, “The effects of oral xylitol administration on bone density in rat femur” Odontology. 2011 Jan;99(1):28-33. doi: 10.1007/s10266-010-0143-2. Epub 2011 Jan 27.
  8. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/erythritol-cardiovascular-events
  9.  https://health.clevelandclinic.org/erythritol/ 
  10. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/erythritol-cardiovascular-events; https://health.clevelandclinic.org/erythritol/

Article Comments

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  1. Ann Hancock

    April 8, 2017 , 7:13 am

    I’m so pleased you mentioned the fact that Xylitol is *extremely* deadly for dogs. A friend of mine lost her beloved dog when he ate some sugar free gum.

    And the first question a vet asks when you bring in your dog with a digestive issue is:
    “has s/he eaten anything like sugar free gum or candy?”

    I wish this information was MUCH nearer to the introduction, rather than buried at the end of the article where many may never read it. The reason I found it is because I was looking for it, being familiar with my friend’s tragic loss.

    Would you consider featuring this warning more prominently? So many follow your wonderful blog; it’s a great platform. Thank you for considering my viewpoint.

  2. Teddye Noel

    April 8, 2017 , 10:54 am

    Was very interested about the bone density — warning to dogs should have been more prominent — it also is in peanut butter and some people give their dog peanut butter treats

  3. Monica

    April 9, 2017 , 9:01 am

    Hi Teddye,
    I wasn’t aware that xylitol is also common in peanut butter – thanks for sharing and good to know.
    – Monica

  4. Diane Massey

    April 8, 2017 , 6:26 pm

    I have read that there are concerns that since Xylitol kills bacteria in the mouth/ears that it might disturb a healthy microbiome in the gut. Therefore, there are some experts that recommend avoiding its use. I personally believe that it is a prebiotic and is healthy, but I am not a professional.

  5. Monica

    April 11, 2017 , 10:00 am

    Hi Diane,
    Looking at the research from this post, it does look like it kills ‘bad’ bacteria but doesn’t affect the ‘good’ or healthy bacteria.
    – Monica

  6. Susanna Roland

    September 10, 2019 , 9:43 pm

    I have not taken the Triple Power product, but read about it with interest when I placed my order for AlgaeCal and Strontium. However, I was immediately turned off when I saw that it contains Xylitol. I try to educate everyone I know who has a dog as to the dangers of Xylitol, and for a fish oil supplement to contain it is horrifying to me – since many dogs are given fish oil as a supplement! I know the product is made strictly for human use and if it is stored properly it is safe, but knowing how deadly it is for dogs, I do not want to even risk having it in my house. I hope that a proper warning is prominently displayed on the label of these bottles, and if it is not, please consider changing your labels.

  7. Megan AlgaeCal

    September 11, 2019 , 3:50 pm

    Hi Susanna, thank you for reaching out and sharing your concerns!

    We’re sorry to hear that you were turned off by the xylitol in Triple Power. Rest assured, we do have a warning on the label that says “Do not give to pets.”

    Hope this helps put your mind at ease! ❤️

    -Megan @ AlgaeCal

  8. Patty

    November 15, 2019 , 8:35 am

    I have finished my first bottle of Triple Power omega and my last blood work has shown an increase in my A1c plus my fasting glucose increased to 126 from 99.

  9. Megan AlgaeCal

    November 19, 2019 , 9:08 am

    Hi Patty, thanks for reaching out!

    The ingredients in Triple Power Fish Oil should not raise blood sugars (it’s sweetened with xylitol, which has no major effect on blood sugar).

    Patty, we would recommend checking in with your doctor about other possible causes of your increased blood sugars – have you changed any other parts of your diet/supplement/medication regimen? Please do keep us updated, and if you prefer to chat over the phone you can always call us at 1-800-820-0184. ❤️

    -Megan @ AlgaeCal

  10. Jayanthi

    February 7, 2021 , 10:54 pm

    I’d love to see a triple power algae omega3 oil!

  11. Blaire AlgaeCal

    February 9, 2021 , 1:31 pm

    Thank you for your feedback, Jayanthi! We will make sure to pass your comment onto our team 🙂

    – Blaire @ AlgaeCal

  12. Debbie

    February 2, 2021 , 12:59 pm

    would have liked to try the fish oil but it is sweetened with Xylitol and natural flavour so l will decline. Husks of corn could be GMO and maybe this is why people are having gut issues? Why does it have to be sweetened at all? It could also make one crave sugar. Natural is a word that has alternative meanings that raises a flag for me. If you ever take these produces out please let me know.

  13. Blaire AlgaeCal

    February 4, 2021 , 11:31 am

    Hi Debbie!

    The xylitol present in Triple Power Fish Oil is non-GMO project certified from corn cobs. That said, it contains no corn DNA or protein so for allergy purposes it is actually “corn-free”. We use xylitol to make the product palatable. If you are sensitive to xylitol but still want to give our fish oil a try, we recommend very slowly introducing the fish oil at a quarter tablespoon a day and eventually working your way up to the full dosage.

    Hope that helps! Let us know if you have any questions ?

    – Blaire @ AlgaeCal

  14. CinD

    November 6, 2022 , 5:40 pm

    How does xylitol hold up to heating? I’m looking for a sugar substitute for making a syrup that’s heated up.

  15. Brianne AlgaeCal

    November 7, 2022 , 8:25 am

    Hi CinD,

    Great idea! Definitely give it a try and let us know how it turns out! 🙂

    Xylitol is heat stable, and its melting point is around 92 degrees Celsius (198 degrees Fahrenheit).

    I hope this is helpful!

    – Brianne @ AlgaeCal

  16. Ray Saucedo

    February 2, 2023 , 2:27 am

    Very interesting information about Xylitol, this is the first time knowing a good bones sugar substitute plus better benefits for my theeth. I found this product when bought a sugar free mints. It has an incredible good flavor, thank you for your great information.

  17. Chelsea Dugas

    February 6, 2023 , 7:30 am

    You’re welcome, Ray! Let us know if ever you have any questions! 🙂

    – Chelsea @ AlgaeCal

  18. Cindy Dessecker

    June 19, 2023 , 8:40 am

    I have estrogen driven breast cancer will this benefit me or cause problems of cancer to return

  19. Shelby AlgaeCal

    June 19, 2023 , 1:44 pm

    Thank you for reaching out to us, Cindy! We’re so sorry to hear that you have been diagnosed with estrogen-positive breast cancer, and hope that you’re getting all of the support that you need! Our Triple Power Fish Oil is a fantastic product and would definitely benefit you, but to answer your question, it’s always a good idea to check in with your doctor or oncologist to confirm the suitability of any new dietary supplement, especially with a pre-existing health condition. As such, I would recommend that you double-check with your physician if Triple Power Fish Oil is a good fit for you – to help with this, I have sent you an email with a handy Doctor’s Information Sheet which you’re more than welcome to share with them. 🙂

    I hope this helps, and do let us know if you have any other questions – we’re always happy to assist you!

    – Shelby @ AlgaeCal

  20. Kay luther

    July 22, 2023 , 6:39 am

    How do you buy xilotol?

  21. Shelby AlgaeCal

    July 24, 2023 , 1:07 pm

    Great question, Kay! You should be able to find xylitol at certain grocery stores, health food stores, or even through online retailers. Hope this helps! 🙂
    – Shelby

  22. Charlotte Wilson.

    July 22, 2023 , 7:11 am

    Xylitol is toxic to our dogs. Users need to be diligent to keep foods containing it away from their pets.

  23. Shelby AlgaeCal

    July 24, 2023 , 1:03 pm

    We absolutely agree, Charlotte! It’s imperative to keep products containing xylitol away from our furry friends to ensure their safety!
    – Shelby

  24. Catherine Nisselson

    July 22, 2023 , 7:51 am

    Xylitol is extremely toxic to cats & dogs. Even a small amount can kill. Do NOT share this by product with your pets. Perhaps AlgaeCal could put a warning label on the bottle.

  25. Shelby AlgaeCal

    July 24, 2023 , 1:02 pm

    You are certainly correct, Catherine – xylitol can be fatal if consumed by pets, and products containing xylitol, including our Triple Power Fish Oil, should never be given to cats and dogs! We appreciate you sharing your feedback, and it may help to know that we do include a disclaimer on the bottle of our Triple Power Fish Oil not to give it to pets. Any other questions, don’t hesitate!
    – Shelby

  26. Donna

    July 22, 2023 , 9:22 am

    Finally, I read an article and don’t have to run out and buy anything! I already take yourTriple Omega Fish Oil and I have been using Xylitol for years. I have perfect dental checkups. I’m so happy to find out it is good for other things as well. I try to tell people about it and they just lump it in with other sweeteners and don’t understand what I’m saying. Great to see this article and know about all of the benefits!

  27. Shelby AlgaeCal

    July 24, 2023 , 12:34 pm

    We’re so glad to hear that you enjoyed our article, Donna! It’s also fantastic that you’ve been enjoying the benefits of xylitol for years, and have been taking our Triple Power Fish Oil! Of course, if there’s anything we can do to assist you at any point going forward, just let us know. 🙂
    – Shelby

  28. Dr Paula Winters-Buechler

    July 22, 2023 , 10:03 am

    Xylitol is very toxic to dogs. Small amounts can be fatal

  29. Shelby AlgaeCal

    July 24, 2023 , 12:25 pm

    This is absolutely correct, Paula – to keep our furry friends safe, definitely do not give them anything containing xylitol, including our Triple Power Fish Oil!
    – Shelby

  30. Kathleen Wildrick

    July 22, 2023 , 4:39 pm

    I don’t use xylitol because it is extremely toxic to dogs, of which I have three. Many dogs don’t survive if they eat foods sweetened with xylitol. It is truly an emergency life-or-death situation.

    Please please mention this so that those dog owners who choose to use xylitol are very careful!

  31. Shelby AlgaeCal

    July 24, 2023 , 12:53 pm

    Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback, Kathleen – we absolutely understand avoiding xylitol to ensure your pets are kept safe, as xylitol is very toxic for dogs! It may help to know that our article does mention that xylitol should not be given to pets if you scroll down to the FAQ section under “Is Xylitol safe for consumption?”. Also, rest assured that we do have a disclaimer included on the bottle of our Triple Power Fish Oil (which contains xylitol!) not to give to pets!

    I hope this helps, and of course, do let us know if you have any other questions, concerns, or feedback!
    – Shelby

  32. amanda

    July 23, 2023 , 7:12 am

    Thanks for article. I’m confused about the graph relative to Aspartame. If I’m reading it correctly, it seems to say that Aspartame has the same caloric content as sugar, yet elsewhere in the narrative, Aspartame is listed as having zero calories (which sugar does not). Can you please clarify? Thanks much.

  33. Shelby AlgaeCal

    July 24, 2023 , 2:57 pm

    Thank you for reaching out and taking the time to clarify this, Amanda! I’m sorry for any confusion stemming from our article, and understand your point! I did some further research, and aspartame actually does contain calories — four calories per gram, just like sugar. However, aspartame is 200 times sweeter than sugar, so very little is needed to provide the same sweetness (which is likely why it’s considered a “zero calorie” substitute). That said, we appreciate you calling this discrepancy to our attention, and rest assured, I have shared your comment with our team for consideration.

    I hope this helps, and of course, if you have any additional questions or feedback, please do let us know! 🙂
    – Shelby

  34. Maria Sandra Optional Paulos

    July 23, 2023 , 8:03 pm

    where casn i buy xylitol

  35. Shelby AlgaeCal

    July 24, 2023 , 1:07 pm

    Thank you for reaching out, Maria! You should be able to find xylitol at certain grocery stores, health food stores, or even through online retailers. I hope this helps! 🙂
    – Shelby

  36. Linda Marcotte Tatar

    September 9, 2023 , 9:51 am

    I have read that it is dangerous for dogs to ingest relatively small amounts of xylitol. The dangers need to be prominently stated. For those who have lost a beloved pet, it is not so wonderful. I avoid xylitol. I am disappointed with this article and with AlgaeCal.

  37. Yoori AlgaeCal

    September 11, 2023 , 10:01 pm

    Thank you for sharing your concern and feedback, Linda. Feedback is what helps us to grow as a company and we truly appreciate it! We completely understand and respect your decision not to take any products that contain xylitol. Please feel free to let us know if you have any further feedback you’d like to share with us!

    – Yoori

This article features advice from our industry experts to give you the best possible info through cutting-edge research.

Lara Pizzorno
MDiv, MA, LMT - Best-selling author of Healthy Bones Healthy You! and Your Bones; Editor of Longevity Medicine Review, and Senior Medical Editor for Integrative Medicine Advisors.,
Dr. Liz Lipski
PhD, CNS, FACN, IFMP, BCHN, LDN - Professor and Director of Academic Development, Nutrition programs in Clinical Nutrition at Maryland University of Integrative Health.,
Dr. Loren Fishman
MD, B.Phil.,(oxon.) - Medical Director of Manhattan Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Founder of the Yoga Injury Prevention Website.,
Prof. Didier Hans
PHD, MBA - Head of Research & Development Center of Bone Diseases, Lausanne University Hospital CHUV, Switzerland,