In this article, learn more about simple sugars, the uses of dextrose, and possible side effects.
What is dextrose?
Dextrose is similar to fructose and glucose.
Dextrose is a type of simple sugar made from corn. It is similar to fructose and chemically identical to glucose, which is blood sugar.
Simple sugars, including dextrose, fructose, and glucose, appear in foods such as table sugar, honey, and bread.
Dextrose often appears in foods as an artificial sweetener and ingredients such as fructose corn syrup.
Doctors may use this simple sugar to raise a person's blood sugar when it is too low.
They may also combine dextrose with other substances if giving it as an injection.
Is dextrose good or bad for you?
The body breaks down simple sugars very quickly to use them for energy. If someone consumes too much simple sugar, the body will store any extra as fat.
While the body does need some simple sugars for energy, consuming too much can lead to increased risk of the following:
Even so, there are times when using dextrose benefits an individual more than it harms.
Uses in medicine
Doctors may combine dextrose with a saline solution to make a rehydration drip to treat people who are dehydrated.
Doctors use dextrose for a variety of reasons, including :
- to quickly treat low blood sugar
- to treat dehydration
- to provide nutrition in combination with amino acids and other substances
Doctors may recommend that a person with diabetes or who is otherwise prone to episodes of low blood sugar carries dextrose tablets with them.
These tablets dissolve quickly when in a person's mouth, allowing the body to absorb the dextrose.
Once a person with low blood sugar takes a dextrose tablet, their blood sugar will rapidly return to healthy levels.
Doctors can also combine dextrose with many other liquids to make an intravenous solution.
For example, they may combine dextrose with a saline solution to create a rehydration drip for someone with dehydration.
Some medical problems may make a person unable to eat or unable to absorb nutrients. This can lead to malnourishment.
In cases of malnourishment, doctors may decide to feed a person through a central venous catheter, which is a tube inserted into a large vein.
They may choose total parenteral nutrition (TPN) or partial parenteral nutrition (PPN), using solutions that contain dextrose.
TPN fulfills all a person's nutritional needs, while PPN supplements a person's nutritional intake.
Uses in food
Dextrose is a sugar that comes from corn and sometimes other plants. Its primary use in food is as a sweetener, especially in baked goods. Because of its wide availability, packaged food also commonly contains dextrose.
Aside from sweetening food, dextrose may also help neutralize food that is otherwise very spicy or salty.
Also, some companies add dextrose to certain products to extend their shelf life.
Dextrose has a variety of other applications and uses and is an ingredient in many everyday products, including:
- bath products
- skin care products
- hair care products
- animal feed
Some bodybuilders use dextrose as a post-workout supplement to replenish glycogen stores. Glycogen is a form of glucose that the body stores for energy.
When someone does an intense workout, the body uses up some of its stored glycogen.
Many bodybuilders add dextrose tablets or powder to water and drink it following a workout to replenish those glycogen stores as quickly as possible to help with muscle repair.
During the muscle repair process, muscles increase in strength and size, both essential outcomes for bodybuilders.
Side effects and risks
Too much dextrose may cause excessive thirst.
Dextrose is usually safe to consume but does have some potential risks and side effects.
Side effects of using too much dextrose include:
- rapid breathing
- excessive thirst
- low blood phosphate
- fluid in lungs
- low blood magnesium
- high blood sugar
- loss of consciousness
Doctors should exercise caution when prescribing dextrose to people with some medical conditions.
Dextrose use can lead to dangerously high blood sugar or fluid buildup in the body, which may cause swelling and fluid in the lungs.
People with the following conditions should avoid dextrose:
- high blood sugar
- swelling in arms, legs, or feet
- pulmonary edema
- low levels of potassium in the blood
Anyone taking dextrose should carefully monitor their blood sugar levels to avoid excessively high blood sugar.
Symptoms of high blood sugar include:
- increased thirst
- sweet smelling breath
- nausea and vomiting
- frequent urination
- upset stomach
- shortness of breath
Dextrose is a simple sugar derived from corn and other vegetables. It has many uses, including sweetening foods and extending the shelf life of many products.
Bodybuilders may use dextrose as a supplement. Doctors use dextrose to treat many conditions, including dehydration and low blood sugar.
Dextrose is an effective treatment for low blood sugar. It is low cost and widely available, making it an excellent choice for people who tend to experience episodes of low blood sugar.
However, it is essential to carefully monitor blood sugar levels when using dextrose to avoid experiencing symptoms of high blood sugar.