Lactitol is a sugar alcohol used as a replacement bulk sweetener for low calorie foods with approximately 40% of the sweetness of sugar. It is also used medically as a laxative. Lactitol is produced by two manufacturers, Danisco and Purac Biochem.
3D model (JSmol)
|E number||E966 (glazing agents, ...)|
CompTox Dashboard (EPA)
|Molar mass||344.313 g·mol−1|
|Melting point||146 °C (295 °F; 419 K)|
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
Lactitol is used in a variety of low food energy or low fat foods. High stability makes it popular for baking. It is used in sugar-free candies, cookies (biscuits), chocolate, and ice cream. Lactitol also promotes colon health as a prebiotic. Because of poor absorption, lactitol only has 2.4 kilocalories (9 kilojoules) per gram, compared to 4 kilocalories (17 kJ) per gram for typical saccharides. Hence, lactitol is about 60% as caloric as typical saccharides.
Lactitol is listed as an excipient in some prescription drugs, such as Adderall.
Lactitol is a laxative and is used to prevent or treat constipation, e.g., under the trade name Importal.
Safety and health
Lactitol, erythritol, sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol, and maltitol are all sugar alcohols. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies sugar alcohols as "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS). They are approved as food additives, and are recognized as not contributing to tooth decay or causing increases in blood glucose. Lactitol is also approved for use in foods in most countries around the world.
Like other sugar alcohols, lactitol causes cramping, flatulence, and diarrhea in some individuals who consume it. This is because humans lack a suitable beta-galactosidase in the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and a majority of ingested lactitol reaches the large intestine, where it then becomes fermentable to gut microbes (prebiotic) and can pull water into the gut by osmosis. Those with health conditions should consult their GP or dietician prior to consumption.
Media related to Lactitol at Wikimedia Commons