Free from sorbitol

Sorbitol intolerance - symptoms

There are currently no reliable figures on how many people in the population have a sorbitol intolerance. However, it is known that sorbitol intolerance often occurs in combination with fructose intolerance (fruit sugar intolerance) and/or lactose intolerance (milk sugar intolerance).

People with a pure fructose intolerance also indirectly do not tolerate sorbitol: On the one hand, sorbitol inhibits the absorption of fructose into the body - on the other hand, sorbitol is converted into fructose in the body. This leads to the already known symptoms: 

  • diarrhea
  • flatulence
  • abdominal pain and belching

The amount at which intolerance occurs varies from person to person. The symptoms of sorbitol intolerance can only be avoided by not consuming any sorbitol, or only as much sorbitol as you personally can tolerate. It helps to avoid sorbitol-containing products for a while after the diagnosis has been made, until the symptoms have completely subsided. Then slowly test your personal tolerance limit: start with small amounts of sorbitol and increase the amounts as long as you do not have any symptoms. The tolerance limit often varies greatly, so that it is not possible to give an indication of when symptoms occur.

Sorbitol [zɔrˈbiːt] belongs to the alditols (sugar alcohols) and is used in many industrially produced foods (food additive E 420) as a sugar substitute, carrier and humectant. Sorbitol is the reduced polyol form of the hexoses glucose, fructose and sorbose and can be produced from these by catalytic or electrochemical hydrogenation.

Sorbitol occurrence in fruits

Fruits of the rowan (Sorbus aucuparia): Originally, sorbitol was obtained from the fruits of the rowan (Sorbus aucuparia), which contain up to 12 % sorbitol. However, it is also found in many other fruits and especially in pome fruits. Pears, plums, apples, apricots and peaches are worth mentioning with regard to their high sorbitol content. In contrast, berries and citrus fruits as well as pineapples and grapes contain very little to no sorbitol.


Industrial production takes place from glucose (dextrose), which is obtained from maize and wheat starch; the glucose is then converted to glucitol by catalytic hydrogenation. As with all products produced via starch saccharification in Europe, there are no genetically engineered products on the market for sorbitol, although the use of genetically modified organisms would be possible for the production of sorbitol.


Further information: Wikipedia "Sorbitol"