December 4, 2020

Aspartame Side Effects

This artificial sweetener first hit the markets under the brand name of NutraSweet. Since it was approved by the FDA in 1974, aspartame has received a lot of negative publicity. Despite all of the bad publicity, a 2007 medical review deemed aspartame save at normal levels of consumption.

Scientists estimate that aspartame is 200 times sweeter than average table sugar. Users of aspartame have to remember this when they are cooking with it to prevent from using too much. Since so little of the artificial sweetener is used, the amount of calories it adds to a meal is negligible. Due to its low calorie appeal, aspartame has become a favorite ingredient for dieters.

What the Studies Show

There have been many studies done on aspartame that yielded no major side effects. For some reason, this artificial sweetener still has a number of detractors. Some people believe that aspartame can cause loose stools, tinnitus, drowsiness, irritability, flatulence and fatigue. There are also indications that large amounts of aspartame could possible cause vision changes, pain, mood changes, coma, problems breathing and seizures.

aspartame side effects nutrasweetAspartame has been the focus of many studies in the last 30 years. According to the FDA, aspartame is safe to use in the recommended amounts. With all of the controversy surrounding aspartame, scientists have conducted studies on its effects on the human body. Detractors believe that it could cause neurological disorders, harm the nervous system or cause cancer. As late as 2006, studies have shown that there is no connection between using aspartame and developing cancer.

The American Dietetic Association decided to conduct a review of aspartame in 2009. They reviewed 16 different research trials and found no signs that aspartame could cause memory problems, mood chances, seizures or brain cancer. Despite this finding, many people still call the FDA to report side effects of aspartame.


When aspartame breaks down in the body, it produces the chemicals aspartic acid, methanol, formaldehyde, formic acid and phenylalanine. Anyone who has phenylketonuria should avoid aspartame because it can cause them severe side effects. This rare disease is genetically inherited from a person’s parents. Individuals with phenylketonuria cannot properly process phenylalanine. Since aspartame contains this chemical, anyone with phenylketonuria should not use aspartame.

Some researchers also hypothesize that accumulation of methanol and formic acid can cause the human body additional problems like methanol poisoning. With all of these issues linked to artificial sweeteners, the governments of Canada and the United Kingdom have both added new labeling requirements for products that contain aspartame. In Canada, products must show the ingredients and list the amount of aspartame in every serving.

Methanol poisoning can produce symptoms of toxicity even when only small amounts are used. Just 10 milliliters of methanol can cause blindness. Levels above 30 milliliters can actually cause death. Patients with methanol poisoning may suffer from dizziness, liver problems, headaches, upset stomach, balance problems and mental confusion. In a few hours, a second set of symptoms may occur including loss of vision and respiratory failure. Methanol poisoning is extremely dangerous. Anyone who suspects that they have methanol poisoning should immediately consult their doctor.

Aspartame is currently not believed to have high enough levels of methanol to be toxic. In one study, common fruits had more methanol than a typical serving of aspartame. To be safe, individuals should never take more than the recommended amount of aspartame.


With so much controversy surrounding aspartame use, individuals should ask their doctor or use an alternative sweetener. Unlike other foods, aspartame is a necessary part of the human diet. Patients can lower the level of sugar in their food or avoid sugary foods completely.

Although aspartame has been cleared for most major side effects, it can still cause gastrointestinal problems. If you do take aspartame, you should never exceed the recommended daily amount. Any food or medication can cause problems when it is taken in too high of levels. Individuals who have negative side effects should always consult with their doctor.