At one time or another most of us have been told, “Take that gum out of your mouth!” Now it seems that gum may actually be good for you, so if you like chewing it, read on.
Many companies promote gum that is enriched with vitamins. Researchers at Penn State wanted to examine that claim and if found to be true, determine if gum can actually deliver vitamins into the body. They discovered that the answer to both questions is yes. In fact, researchers found that chewing gum is so effective in delivering vitamins to the human body that it could help to reduce vitamin deficiency around the world, which is now considered to be a global epidemic. As the college reported, “Even in the United States vitamin deficiency is a serious problem, with nearly one in 10 people over the age of 1 deficient in vitamins B6 and C.“
It’s interesting to think that something as simple as chewing gum could increase vitamin delivery and absorption in the body but the study showed it could be very effective. Here’s what researchers did:
- 15 people chewed two different vitamin supplemented gums (off the shelf brands).
- Researchers measured the levels of eight different vitamins released into their saliva
- They also measured the levels of seven vitamins in their blood plasma
- Other study participants chewed gum minus the vitamin supplements
Researchers discovered that the following vitamins were released into the saliva:
- Retinol (A1): supports eyesight, healthy skin, and human development
- Thiamine (B1): needed for healthy nerve, muscle, and heart function, and metabolism of blood sugars
- Riboflavin (B2): essential for healthy nervous system, metabolism
- Niacinamide (B3): helps the body convert food into energy, serves as an antioxidant to fight cell damage, makes and repairs DNA
- Pyridoxine (B6): supports normal brain development, helps to keep the nervous system and immune system healthy
- Folic acid: helps to prevent birth defects
- Cyanocobalamin (B12): helps the body use fat and carbohydrates for energy and to make new protein, important for normal blood, cells, and nerves
- Ascorbic acid (C): protects cells from damage, helps wounds heal
- Alpha-tocopherol (E): protects cells, regulates the immune system, helps blood coagulate
When vitamin levels in blood plasma were measured, researchers found the following concentrations:
- Retinol increased by 75 to 96 percent
- Pyridoxine increased by 906 to 1,077 percent
- Ascorbic acid increased 64 to 141 percent
- Alpha-tocopherol increased 418 to 502 percent
All of these vitamins are essential to the body. If levels in the body can be enhanced by something as simple as chewing gum, it presents a viable solution to the global vitamin deficiency epidemic. However, further study is needed. Although the study found that chewing vitamin-enhanced gum raised vitamin levels in the blood for one a day, researchers do not know if the levels remain improved for a longer period of time. That is what they want to study next; can chewing gum every day for a month elevate vitamin levels consistently?
The fact that chewing gum can help get vitamins into the body is an interesting finding. It is a great example of how science can help break down barriers and find the simplest delivery systems that may improve health around the world.
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