Polysorbate 80 safe?

Is Polysorbate 80 Safe?

Polysorbate 80, also known as polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monooleate, is an ingredient used in many foods and cosmetics due to its ability to carry flavors and scents across ingredients. Polysorbate 80 can also be found in hand soaps, shampoos, shaving creams, toothpastes, and cleaning solutions. The inclusion of polysorbate 80 in your cosmetics or food may cause negative reactions or health complications; this article will explore how polysorbate 80 affects you and whether it’s safe to use as an ingredient in certain products.


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Formula : C64H124O26

Appearance: Amber colored liquid

 Molar mass: 1310 g/mol 

 Density: 1.102 g/mL

How Is Polysorbate 80 Used?

Polysorbate 80 is an emulsifier added to many things, including foods and drugs. A common product that contains polysorbate 80 is ice cream. It keeps fat droplets in different flavors of ice cream from separating, which gives you a smooth taste. When Polysorbate 80 is used in drugs, it can help dissolve other ingredients so they work better together. In some cases, polysorbate 80 can be found in spermicides to prevent pregnancy and diseases such as gonorrhea.

Polysorbate 80 in skin care

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While polysorbate 80 is safe for use in foods and pharmaceutical creams, it can cause side effects when applied topically to large areas of skin. Most commonly, people who experience irritation from polysorbate 80 report redness, itching and burning. It is especially important to avoid using products containing polysorbate 80 if you have a known allergy to soy, as trace amounts of soy can be found in many formulas containing polysorbate 80. Always read product labels carefully before use to confirm that you aren’t inadvertently introducing a potentially unsafe ingredient into your skincare routine. If you do experience an allergic reaction after applying a cream or other cosmetic product containing polysorbate 80, seek immediate medical attention to prevent any serious complications from developing.

Polysorbate 80 in food

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It is used as an emulsifier in some foods and cosmetics. When used in foods, polysorbates are regulated by FDA as food additives. The emulsifying action of polysorbates makes them useful in stabilizing foams such as shaving cream, non-dairy whipped toppings, and ice cream. In whipped toppings it also prevents weeping (defoaming). Polysorbates are used in food products because they have a long shelf life. They can be included at a level of up to 0.5% of total ingredients by weight. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers polysorbates to be generally recognized as safe (GRAS). However, there are some indications that large amounts of polysorbates might be toxic or carcinogenic. For example, some research has shown that rats fed high levels of polysorbat 80 developed pre-cancerous changes in their colons. And a study found that rats exposed to hydrated polysorbate 60 showed damage to their testicles.

Polysorbate 80 uses in pharmaceuticals

Polysorbates are used as emulsifiers and solubilizers in various pharmaceutical preparations such as ophthalmic and parenteral solutions. It acts as a stabilizer to prevent crystal aggregation, solution turbidity, or drug precipitation. This chemical is also used in oral liquid medications to increase solution stability and bioavailability. There are various grades of polysorbates available commercially depending on purity levels and uses. For example, P80 grade is often used in foods while P85 grade is often used in pharmaceutical applications.

A pharmaceutical grade polysorbate is used in medications to help improve absorption of water-insoluble drugs. Examples include ranitidine (Zantac), omeprazole (Prilosec), and others. The polysorbate is added to tablets so that they break down more easily in solution, and therefore can be absorbed by your body more effectively. 

How Does It Work?

A polysorbate is a surfactant that causes two different liquids to mix by reducing surface tension. The polysorbates are classified as nonionic surfactants; that is, they do not have ionic bonds with either end of their molecules. Instead, a polysorbate's hydrophilic (water-loving) groups are located on one end of its molecule and its hydrophobic (water-hating) groups are on the other end of its molecule. Therefore, there will be an uneven distribution of charge within each molecule (polar), making it amphipathic.

Polysorbate 80 is an emulsifier, meaning it helps to hold water and oil together. In foods, it's often used as a substitute for trans fats—which have negative health effects—and as an ingredient in ice cream to add creaminess. In pharmaceuticals, polysorbate 80 is used to help drugs dissolve in water and more quickly pass through cell membranes so they can be absorbed into your bloodstream. While these properties make polysorbate 80 a useful additive, there are some drawbacks you should know about before consuming it.

What Are The Side Effects Of Polysorbate 80?

Commonly, polysorbate 80 is found in small amounts within beauty products, medications and other food items. In some cases, however, polysorbate 80 can be combined with a variety of other ingredients for use in larger quantities. Some research has associated high doses of polysorbate 80 with certain side effects. This particular chemical can cause a wide range of health problems; if you experience symptoms similar to those listed below, you may want to consider consulting your physician as soon as possible... ...As stated previously, it is generally safe to consume small amounts of polysorbate 80 on an ongoing basis. However, consuming large quantities may not only lead to health complications but also negatively impact your overall quality of life.

For most of us, swallowing a spoonful of polysorbate 80 is unlikely to be harmful. There are few documented cases of adverse effects resulting from its ingestion. But, just because it’s unlikely to cause major problems doesn’t mean that it can’t. When you swallow a medicine with polysorbate 80 in it, there is a very small chance that you could experience an allergic reaction. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include sneezing, wheezing, hives and shortness of breath. If you have an allergy to polysorbate 80 or have had problems in the past when taking medication containing it then talk to your doctor before taking any drugs that contain polysorbate 80.

Alternative of polysorbate 80

When looking for an alternative to polysorbate 80, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First of all, polysorbates are petroleum-based chemicals that emulsify water and oil. They’re typically used as emulsifiers or stabilizers in foods and cosmetics. Luckily, there are plenty of natural substitutes for polysorbates. For example, Pectin is produced from citrus peel and has a similar texture to polysorbates. Other great alternatives include xanthan gum (available at your local grocery store) and gelatin which is high protein derived from beef byproducts.

Polysorbate 80 allergy symptoms

If you’re allergic to polysorbate 80, you may experience symptoms such as itchy or swollen skin, a fast heartbeat and anxiety. People who are allergic to polysorbate 80 should avoid products that contain it and seek emergency medical care if they’re exposed. If your symptoms are mild, you can take an antihistamine to treat them. Talk with your doctor about what treatments might be most effective for you. For more severe symptoms, talk with your doctor about whether you need to carry epinephrine for use in an emergency situation.

Should we avoid polysorbate 80?

Because polysorbate 80 is used as an emulsifier, stabilizer and thickener in a number of foods, it often comes up as an additive people wish to avoid. However, there are no known human side effects from consuming polysorbate 80. It is part of a group of food additives deemed generally recognized as safe by Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Many animal studies have found that ingesting large amounts of polysorbate 80 may lead to tumor development in some animals, but no data exists on what levels are necessary for these effects to occur. In conclusion, you do not need to avoid polysorbate 80 if it’s listed as an ingredient in your food or personal care products.

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