The Potentially Dangerous Side Effects of Truvia

Medically reviewed by Natalie Butler, RD, LD on May 3, 2016Written by Rachel Nall, RN, BSN, CCRN on May 3, 2016
truvia side effects

What is Truvia?

Truvia is the name brand for a natural sweetener that contains erythritol, stevia leaf extract, and natural flavors. The chief sweetening ingredient in Truvia is stevia.

This sweetener is derived from the stevia plant, which grows in South America and China. The plant is a member of the Chrysanthemum family. It has a natural sweetness when its leaves are dried and steeped in hot water to extract a sweet liquid. Stevia extract is powerfully sweet: It’s an estimated 200 times sweeter than sugar.

Erythritol is an ingredient added to Truvia, which is intended to make the sweetener have an even flavor. By weight, it’s the largest ingredient in Truvia. Erythritol is known as a sugar alcohol and is found naturally in fruits like grapes and pears. It’s also in fermented products, such as wine and soy sauce.

Truvia has emerged as a popular sweetener for several reasons. One is its taste profile. The sweetener tastes extremely sweet and requires significantly less product to produce the same sweetness result.

Truvia is also a zero-calorie food, unlike sugar, which has about 4 calories per gram. Another reason for its popularity is that it doesn’t have as much of an impact on a person’s blood glucose levels as sugar. This makes Truvia an attractive alternative to sugar for people who have diabetes and typically avoid excess sugar.

Sugar is associated with increasing a person’s likelihood of experiencing tooth decay or dental caries. This is because bacteria that cause tooth decay are attracted to and live off of sugars. Both sweetener components in Truvia are considered “noncariogenic,” meaning they shouldn’t contribute to tooth decay.

Side effects

While Truvia is for the most part considered safe for consumption, there are some side effects you should be aware of.

Risks for stomach upset

Consuming large amounts of Truvia, larger than the acceptable daily intake (ADI), has been associated with stomach upset and nausea, due to a laxative effect. Other potential symptoms include bloating, gas, and diarrhea.

The ADI is 12 milligrams of Truvia per kilogram of body weight a day. This means that if you weigh 150 pounds, about 68 kilograms, you shouldn’t consume more than 816 milligrams of Truvia each day. The ADI is roughly the equivalent of eating nearly 60 teaspoons of sugar every day. This is a very large amount.

While it’s highly unlikely that you’ll exceed the ADI, it’s important to be aware that one exists. It’s also possible that you could be especially sensitive to the laxative-like effects of excess Truvia consumption. When you are trying Truvia for the first time, you may want to eat a small amount, like a single packet, to ensure you won’t experience stomach upset related to its consumption. Like any food and sweetener, it’s important to use Truvia in moderation.

Risks for excess eating

Sweeteners like Truvia are intended to reduce your calorie and sugar intake, but they can sometimes have the opposite effect. Known as the “rebound” effect, they can lull you into a false sense of security, thinking you can eat more of a food because it’s sweetened with Truvia. More research needs to be conducted about the rebound effect.

But it’s important to remember that foods sweetened with Truvia still contain calories. Excess calorie intake is associated with weight gain. Again, moderation is vital to keeping you healthy while enjoying foods sweetened with Truvia.

Is Truvia safe?

As a fairly new sweetener on the scene, there isn’t research that stretches back over multiple decades to declare Truvia a safe sweetener. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Truvia and other “novel” sweeteners under its generally recognized as safe (GRAS) category. According to the Truvia website, Truvia:

  • isn’t associated with medication interactions
  • is considered safe for children, pregnant women, and those with diabetes
  • isn’t associated with causing diseases like cancer

As researchers continue to study the long-term effects of Truvia and other sweeteners, it’s possible that more information regarding dangers or benefits could be revealed. There have been no independent human or at least two animal species studies to confirm the safety of rebaudioside A, the primary sweet ingredient in stevia and an ingredient of Truvia.

Next steps

Truvia is available in packets, in containers, and is included in some foods. If you choose to supplement your diet with Truvia, enjoy it in moderation as a highly sweet alternative to sugar.

Rachel Nall
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