Sodium benzoate is a widely used preservative found in many foods and beverages, medications, and cosmetics. While generally considered safe by regulatory bodies at typical intake levels, it can cause some side effects in certain individuals or at high doses. Here’s a breakdown of the potential side effects of sodium benzoate:
More common side effects
Gastrointestinal issues: Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, cramps, diarrhea.
Allergic reactions: Itching, swelling, hives, skin irritation, especially around the mouth (perioral dermatitis).
Respiratory problems: Shortness of breath, wheezing.
Nervous system effects: Headaches, dizziness, fatigue, hyperactivity.
Less common side effects
Metabolic issues: Low levels of carnitine (a nutrient involved in energy production), increased blood sugar levels.
Behavioral changes: Increased hyperactivity and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms in children (studies have shown some correlation, but more research is needed).
Inflammation: Potential to contribute to chronic low-grade inflammation in the body, especially in people with obesity.
Factors influencing side effects
Individual sensitivity: Some people are more prone to experiencing side effects from sodium benzoate than others.
Dosage: The higher the intake, the greater the risk of side effects.
Combination with other ingredients: Sodium benzoate can interact with certain food additives like ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to form benzene, a known carcinogen. However, the levels formed in food are considered negligible by regulatory bodies.
Things to consider
- If you experience any concerning side effects after consuming products containing sodium benzoate, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional.
- Opting for fresh, unprocessed foods can naturally reduce your intake of preservatives like sodium benzoate.
- Carefully checking food labels and choosing products with fewer additives can help manage your exposure.
Remember, I’m not a medical professional and this information shouldn’t be taken as a substitute for professional advice. Always consult your doctor or a registered dietitian for personalized guidance and concerns regarding sodium benzoate or any other dietary factors.