Sorbitol is a type of sugar alcohol or hydrogenated carbohydrate used as bulk sweeteners or sugar-free sweetening agent. A French chemist first isolated sorbitol from berries of the mountain ash in the year 1872. This natural sugar substitute is found in different natural fruits and vegetables. The commercial sorbitol syrup suppliers prepare sorbitol by the catalytic hydrogenation of dextrose and glucose syrups, which are sourced from wheat, maize and tapioca starches. Both liquid sorbitol and powdered sorbitol are available in the market.
Sorbitol has been asserted as safe to use by food and drug regulation authorities all over the world. US Food and Drug Administration has certified sorbitol as GRAS (Generally Recognised as Safe), while its usage has been approved by European Union and other countries like Canada, Australia and Japan. Manufacturers and suppliers of sorbitol solution trade globally to capture the food market for this natural sugar substitute.
Sorbitol is very stable and chemically nonreactive. It can tolerate wide range of temperature and never participates in browning reactions. The specific texture and moisture stabilizing quality of sorbitol finds its applications in various fields, as follows:
Sorbitol is an excellent humectant and anti-crystallising agent that has a cool pleasant taste. It is used for preparing wide variety of products like sugar-free products, frozen desserts, chewing gums and baked goods. Sorbitol solution can also be used in cookies, cakes, icings, fillings. Many oral care products like toothpaste and mouthwash have sorbitol solution in their composition. This is very effective among the different types of natural sugar substitutes, as it can combine well with gelling agents, proteins, vegetable fats and various sweetening ingredients. Moisture-stabilising property of sorbitol helps in protecting the commercial food products from being dry or hardened, and also to maintain their freshness during storage.
Application in pharmaceutical industry: Sorbitol solution is used in direct compression applications, such as for making tablets. It also provides bulkiness and sweet taste to different drug products.
Application in cosmetics industry: Sorbitol is widely used as flavouring agent and skin conditioning agent for various cosmetics and personal care products. When it is used in toothpaste, it humectant property maintains the required viscosity level in the product. Liquid sorbitol has prominent cooling effect when mixed with water. This property, along with anti-caries forming ability of sorbitol is helpful for preparing mouthwash.
Application in diets of diabetic people: Sorbitol is slowly absorbed and digested in human body. This results in significant reduction of level of blood glucose when the diabetic patients consume sorbitol syrup. Sorbitol syrup suppliers use this sugar alcohol as sugar substitutes, which can be safely consumed by diabetic patients.
Application as reduced calorie alternative to sugar: One gram of sorbitol, when metabolised, release approximately 2.6 calories, which is much lesser than the calorie value of table sugars. Therefore, sorbitol syrup can be safely consumed as sugar substitutes and is labelled as 'reduced calorie' and 'light' product.