Alzheimer's and Aspartame Rumor
Q: How safe is it for senior citizens to use products that contain aspartame? I've heard it can cause Alzheimer's disease.
A: Unfortunately, many myths about aspartame continue to circulate over the Internet and in newspaper headlines. Negative allegations that aspartame may be associated with dementia are not based on science. Leading diabetes authorities, such as the American Diabetes Association, the American Dietetic Association, and the American Medical Association, agree that aspartame is safe for people of all ages, including people with diabetes.
The body breaks down aspartame into the amino acids aspartic acid and phenylalanine, as well as a small amount of methanol. These components are found naturally in foods such as meats, milk, fruits, and vegetables, and in higher amounts than what you'd consume by using aspartame. Your body uses these components in exactly the same way, whether they come from common foods or aspartame. Aspartame, along with other sugar substitutes, offers people with diabetes greater variety and flexibility in food choices and helps them satisfy their sweet tooth.
Jeannette Jordan, M.S., R.D., CDE, is the American Dietetic Association's national spokesperson for African-American nutrition issues and oversees nutrition education at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.
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