The Truth About Stevia Consumption: How Much is Too Much?

As a nutritionist and expert in the field, I am often asked about the safety and recommended daily intake of stevia. With its growing popularity as a natural sweetener, it's important to understand the facts and dispel any myths surrounding this plant-based sugar substitute. The World Health Organization has set the acceptable daily intake (ADI) for stevia at 4 mg per kilogram of body weight. This means that a person who weighs 150 pounds could safely consume up to 10 packs of stevia a day. However, this amount is much more than the average person needs, considering the intense sweetness of stevia.

In fact, most people don't even use 750 mg of stevia per day. Multiple studies have shown that consuming up to 1500 mg of stevia per day is completely safe and has no adverse effects. However, certain groups such as children, pregnant women, and people with diabetes may react differently to stevia consumption. There were initial concerns that long-term use of stevia could damage the kidneys, but further research has shown no evidence of this. It's important to note that there is a difference between the stevia sweetener found in grocery stores and raw stevia extracts. Currently, only the sweetener is approved by the FDA for use in food products due to a lack of research on the raw product.

However, studies have shown that stevia extracts can actually be beneficial for dental health by preventing tooth decay. In terms of blood sugar levels, stevia has been found to have a minimal impact when used sparingly. In fact, a small study on individuals with diabetes showed that consuming stevia with meals caused a greater decrease in blood sugar levels compared to a control group that received the same amount of corn starch. While stevia is generally considered safe, there have been some concerns about its mutagenic properties. However, these concerns were only found in certain extracts of the stevia sweetener and further research is needed before any conclusions can be made. There are five main groups of steviol glucosides found in stevia, and when used in moderation, they are associated with few side effects. In a study of 10 healthy men, replacing one sweetened beverage per day with another containing a non-nutritive sweetener like stevia had no significant impact on glucose levels.

However, it's important to note that consuming stevia with certain medications that inhibit its absorption may alter its clearance by the kidneys. Lastly, it's important to be aware of added sugar alcohols in some stevia products. These can cause unpleasant symptoms if consumed in large quantities. On the other hand, stevia extract has been shown to have strong bactericidal activity against a wide range of pathogenic bacteria, including certain strains of Escherichia coli.

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