Chewing gum—a potentially new way of delivering vitamins

In a new study, titled “Vitamin-supplemented chewing gum can increase salivary and plasma levels of a panel of vitamins in healthy human participants,” researchers from Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences found that chewing some commercially available gums may have benefits in delivering vitamins.

The study revealed that there are numerous supplement-containing gums on the market. However, no one was more surprised than U.S., Prof. Joshua Lambert, Associate Professor of Food Science and Co-director at the Center for Plant and Mushroom Foods for Health at Penn State, at discovering that no one had done a study like this before.

With vitamin deficiency becoming more of a problem in the U.S. and in many other countries, Prof. Joshua Lambert, believes the findings of his study could be a possible approach to tackling the issue.

Chewing gum to deliver vitamins to the blood plasma had not been well studied. To test the effectiveness of the gum, using two chewing gum products, the professor and his team of researchers conducted a single-blind randomized test and then a single-blind randomized placebo test on 15 healthy individuals.

(A single-blind randomized test means the researchers but not the participants know which subjects are receiving the active treatment and which are not. This technique is used to eliminate subjective bias, as the placebo effect, from the test result; randomized trial- the subject is distributed in random to avoid any bias in the result of the trial.)

According to the results, retinol, thiamine, riboflavin, niacinamide, pyridoxine, folic acid, cyanocobalamin, ascorbic acid, and α-tocopherol were all released into the saliva by chewing. Regarding the plasma vitamin concentrations, retinol went from 75% to 96%, pyridoxine from 906% to 1,077%, ascorbic acid from 64% to 141% and α-tocopherol from 502% to 418% after chewing the supplemented gums.

Additionally, the research demonstrated that water-soluble vitamins such as vitamins B6 and C were increased in the plasma of participants who chewed supplemented gum compared to participants who chewed the placebo gum. Due to the water-soluble vitamins being almost wholly extracted from the gum during the process of chewing, Lambert said these findings were the most significant of the study.

“This study was done in an acute setting—for a day we have shown that chewing supplemented gum bumps up vitamin levels in blood plasma,” noted Lambert. He continued, “But we haven’t shown that this will elevate plasma levels for vitamins long-term. Ideally, that would be the next study. Enrol people who have some level of deficiency for some of the vitamins in supplemented gum and have them chew it regularly for a month to see if that raises levels of the vitamins in their blood.”

At Bite we’re always learning about new developments that could help to make life easier and dental health better. If you’ve come across any dental advice that leaves questions in your mind, feel free to ask us about it.

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