Sorbitol (sometimes called glucitol) is a sugar alcohol which is found in nature, and also derived synthetically from glucose. It's chemical formula is C6H14O6. It is sometimes used in place of sucrose, because it has a lesser impact on the blood sugar of those who consume it. The body must break sorbital down into glucose before it can be digested, but this is a relatively slow process. For this reason, sorbitol is often used in sugar-free candies, soft drinks, and chewing gum.
Sorbitol is found in a variety of fruits, including apples, pears, peaches, apricots and nectarines, prunes, dates and raisins. It also occurs naturally in corn and certain kinds of seaweed. It is also manufactured from glucose for many processed foods. Most of the sorbitol used today comes from corn. A major corn supplier, China is a large producer of sorbitol.
Additional uses and effects
Although Sorbitol is a popular sugar substitute, it has other uses as well. Sorbitol is used as a thickener and moisturizer in health and beauty products (soaps, lotions, cosmetics, etc.), especially in transparent products. In the medical field, is used in some pharmaceutical products, and is in some cases itself an IV medication. It is also used in producing imitation crab meat. In some cases, it can additionally be used in cigarette production as a moisturizing substance. In significant quantities, sorbitol can have a laxative effect.