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Aspartame: The most dangerous food additive of all. Dr. Mercola explains



  • Aspartame is the most dangerous food additive on the market today, accounting for over 75 percent of adverse reactions reported to the FDA, including seizures and death
  • Even though aspartame is touted as natural it has a synthetic methyl group on one of the amino acids that rapidly breaks down to methanol (wood alcohol). The sweetness associated with aspartame is largely the result of methyl alcohol bonded to the amino acid phenylalanine
  • Methyl alcohol is metabolized differently in the human body compared to other animals, and is FAR more toxic in humans which is why studies have trouble nailing down the hazards related to aspartame, because most rely on animal not human studies
  • Methyl alcohol, after it is taken up by the body as a “Trojan Horse” into susceptible tissues like the brain, converts rapidly into formaldehyde,. This causes severe damage to proteins and DNA that can contribute to many serious and chronic diseases, such as cancer, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables contain minute amounts of methanol, but there’s a natural mechanism that makes it harmless. Pectin firmly binds to methanol, allowing it to simply pass through your body and be excreted, because the human body does not have the enzymes to break that bond

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Cyril's picture

Awful taste was enough for me, decades ago

I carefully avoid anything containing aspartame, and other sweeteners which aren't mere sugar, for just one reason :

they totally taste like cr*p to me anyway (rhetorical).

Seriously, man. I know some people around me can, but I never could.

I have no clue what kind of mind / mouth could ever think this stuff as a no-joke alternative to sugar. Maybe that's because I've always been eating so much sugar, dunno.

I also much prefer brown sugar to white, btw.

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

University Studies - Conflict of Interest

July 25, 2011 - Three Professors Face Sanctions Following Harvard Medical School Inquiry


Three Harvard psychiatrists previously accused by a senator of accepting money from drug companies have been punished for violating conflict of interest polices set forth by the Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Corruption of Big Pharma


Then drug companies retain teams of science writers and editors to shape the published medical literature in order to persuade doctors that new drugs are more effective and safer than they are. Systematic reviews find that sponsored scientific articles almost always conclude the company's drug is better. Negative results are usually not published at all.

Campuses Ban Pharma/Tobacco Money


“The argument for rejecting funding is that the tobacco industry has a 50-plus-year history of a corrupting influence on medical research.”

Harvard Researcher accepts 1.6 million from Big Pharma


"Chief of the Program in Pediatric Psychopharmacology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Biederman has received research funds from 15 pharmaceutical companies. The New York Times exposed how Joseph Biederman earned $1.6 million in consulting fees from drug makers between 2000 and 2007 but did not report all of this income to Harvard University officials."

"With enough of us, around the world, we’ll not just send a strong message opposing the privatization of knowledge — we’ll make it a thing of the past." ~ Aaron Swartz


Aspartame does indeed break down into methanol in the body. About 1 part in 10 by mass of aspartame turns into methanol. Methanol is indeed very dangerous, and as little as 10mL can cause permanent blindness.

What Mercola doesn't tell you is that methanol is ubiquitous in nature. The bacteria in your gut are producing it right now. At all times there is a very small concentration of methanol both in the air and in your blood. Your body deals with very small amounts of methanol very efficiently.

In a 355mL can of diet Coke, the dose you get of aspartame is 180mg. This breaks down in your body to 18mg (1 part in 10) of methanol. 10mL of methanol weighs about 7.9g. This means that you would have to drink 439 cans of diet coke (156L or 41 gallons!), all at once, in order to ingest enough methanol to possibly cause blindness. There are other things we eat in small doses which are far more toxic. Vitamin A and caffeine come to mind. In comparison, aspartame is relatively harmless. Also, Mercola is a raving, supplement-pushing quack.

Really, a lot of the demonization of aspartame (as well as other artificial sweeteners) originated with dubious studies and reports funded by the sugar industry in the 1970s. See: http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/10/sugar-industr...

I don't recommend aspartame as a sweetener. There are better natural alternatives like stevia or xylitol. However, aspartame is NOT the "most dangerous food additive on the market today." Not even close. It's safe as long as you're not drinking 41 gallons of soda. And if you are, I think you have bigger problems than methanol.


Our bodies are complex interacting systems with self-tuning features.

Part of science for the safety of aspartame is the inviolable blood brain barrier. The Blood brain barrier is imperfect under certain conditions: High alcohol or sugar levels in blood, fever and infection are a few.

The food was so bad that the cows wouldn't eat it. Maybe it was their gag reflex? The Man came with a small bag of white powder, mixed it in the food, and the cows ate their food.

No one cares if a cow lives past 4 years or goes a little mad.

So I have ordered a pepperoni pizza no cheese and washed it down with an aspartame drink. I suppose they could have added to the sauce except for the marketing opportunity offered by "diet" drinks so-called.

Am I looking for eating opportunist where suppressing gag reflex is a benefit?

For the same reason I avoid bar food. I don't wash food down with alcohol or sugar drinks.

Can I afford to take in a additional methanol load in my current condition. If, so then what is the benefit? How much can I convert to formaldehyde and finally to a safely eliminated byproduct. What is the additional nutritional requirements for making these conversions?

In an article for the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1961, Capt. James H. Shinaberger, MC writes about a study of three people who had suffered methanol poisoning as a result of drinking Sterno. One of the patients, "had been drinking Sterno for about a week and had been in the city prison for 48 hours when severe abdominal pain and vomiting occurred".

US National Toxicology Program described formaldehyde as "known to be a human carcinogen"

The current Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) permissible exposure limit (PEL) for formic acid is 5 ppm parts of air (9 milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m(3))) as an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) concentration [29 CFR 1910.1000, Table Z-1].

When an engineer forgets basic science of vibrating stings the design this.

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You're missing my point and being unnecessarily combative

I'm not recommending anyone eat their fill of aspartame. It's not natural, and there are plenty of alternatives out there.

However, you seem to be arguing as if I supported liberal use of aspartame as safe in all foods. I don't agree with the GRAS rating, however neither do I agree with the wild and unsubstantiated claims that it is biologically damaging even in tiny amounts. Plenty of research has been done, both in clinical trials and examination of the metabolic pathways. There is no evidence to suggest a reasonable exposure to aspartame is harmful. At the same time, it isn't nutritious or "good" for you either.

What I am advising against is spreading groundless fear about a substance which is relatively harmless in the quantities encountered by the average citizen on an average day. I am NOT advising everyone to drink a gallon of diet coke because of the GRAS rating.

When you throw around terms like formaldehyde and formic acid, and describing how poisonous they are, your only aim is to frighten people into avoiding something you don't like. Because if they actually took the time to look at the quantities involved, they would realise there is nothing to worry about. Smoking puts a larger formaldehyde load on a body than aspartame. The production of methanol by gut flora probably outstrips average aspartame ingestion as well. Spreading fear is deceitful and wrong.

How dare I counter the glamorous image of diet soda?

If vendors of aspartame products were honest they would slap a skull and crossbones on their product with a warning about toxicity, bio-accumulation and addiction.

Your opinion and science strikes me a faulty leaving your opinion about "groundless fear" suspect.

I would rather all be safe than sorry. Shrugs. I proved it on myself, and I found it was a danger to me. That's my testimony.

Free includes debt-free!

I think

yours is a much more logical and sound position.

If Methanol is converted to formaldehyde effects are cumulative.

How much formaldehyde or methanol causes brain toxicity which comes long before blindness?

Methanol crosses the blood brain barrier. There it may be turned into formaldehyde.

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Methanol converts to formaldehyde, yes. However, the body recognizes that formaldehyde is very toxic.

Formaldehyde is thus very efficiently metabolized to formic acid in the body. It does not bioaccumulate. I don't know if it can cross the blood-brain barrier, but so can many other small molecules. You'll get a far bigger dose of formaldehyde by smoking a cigarette than ingesting a soda's worth of aspartame.

Formic acid is the same substance many insects use in their stings. It also does not bioaccumulate.


A deficiency of moybdemum prevents full production of Aldehyde oxidase that converts formaldehyde into formic acid.

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Yes, and?

It just means the problem is a trace element deficiency, not a problem with aspartame. Also, the body retains molybdenum so well, and needs so little, that cases of deficiency are rarer than getting struck by lightning. Most cases occur in those being fed intravenously in hospital.

Regardless this does not meet GRAS standards.

GRAS implies that it could be added to the hospital drip of your poor molybdenum short patient.

Then there are the neurological effects of aspartic acid and glutamic acid flooding the brain's bloodstream.

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My Story

I wanted to lose weight so for the first time in my life, I went on a "diet coke" diet. I only consumed about 2 or 2 1/2 cans a day over a 2 to 3 week period. Also, I worked out with weights and wasn't on any drugs, not even supplements.

Than it began. My hands became paralyzed. I could not bend my fingers to turn the knobs in the shower. My joints all up and down the right side of my body became sore and painful. At night, I awakened and my lower arms and hands would be shaking with spasms and I could not make them stop.

What gives? I had no prior health problems and the only change in my diet was Diet Coke? Prior to the Diet coke I did dead lifts, jumped rope, squats, yoga, chin ups, ran, and did push ups so don't tell me I had an underlying problem. I went online and a Doctor(he claimed he was Doctor) told me I would have to drink 50 diet cokes a day before any side effects would surface.

I don't buy scientific studies anymore. How 10 people or 50 people process chemicals is different for each one of us. Diet Coke quickly effected me but it took well over a month to detox the poison out of my system. I came back 100% but nobody will ever tell me that Aspartame is safe.

"With enough of us, around the world, we’ll not just send a strong message opposing the privatization of knowledge — we’ll make it a thing of the past." ~ Aaron Swartz

I know quite a few people like you

who have severe reactions to aspartame.

Yes, everyone is different which is why all these different drugs only work on a percentage of people. They never work for everyone.

We can thank Donald Rumsfeld for getting aspartame approved by the FDA. I remember when this all went down. I personally don't like how it tastes so I don't drink it. And stevia tastes like metal to me so I don't drink those sweetened drinks either.

See, your mistake was

Your mistake was buying a product that said "diet" on the label when you wanted to lose weight. If you really want to lose weight, you avoid every product with packaging that says "diet" or "healthy choice". In fact, you're best to avoid all products that have packaging.

The problem with your little experiment of one is that it could have been any number of things in the diet coke. It could have been the caffeine. It could have been the artificial colouring. It could have been the big dose of phosphoric acid gobbling up calcium and preventing you from absorbing it, which caused your joints to seize up. Why does it have to be the aspartame?

Were you eating anything at all besides drinking diet coke? If not, well, there's your problem. I definitely wouldn't blame that on aspartame.

I was eating at the time.

I was eating at the time. Probably not the healthiest diet but I did eat. It was not the caffine because I just recently cut my 4 cup a day coffee habit.

You are not grasping the gravity of my situation. My hands were paralyzed. I had uncontrollable spasms in my hands and lower arms. This is a serious incapacitation. I was a perfectly healthy person all my life until I drank the diet coke.

Introduce Diet Coke into my diet....paralysis, uncontrolled spasms, joint pain up and down my body. Quit Diet Coke....completely back to normal. According to a chemist, my central nervous system was effected.

Are you a chemist? Have you personally worked with aspartame in the lab? Are you speaking from first hand experience. Ask any honest chemist about aspartame and they will give you the true scoop on this poison.

"With enough of us, around the world, we’ll not just send a strong message opposing the privatization of knowledge — we’ll make it a thing of the past." ~ Aaron Swartz

I know a few honest chemists

And have also read plenty of journals. There are no clinical studies which suggest aspartame in small doses is harmful. Please provide some, if you have them.

It is possible that you might have a special reaction to it, or you might be reacting to the overdose of phosphoric acid, or allergic to any of the many ingredients in diet coke.

Humans are very susceptible to seeing patterns which aren't actually there, which is why you see a study in the paper one day which says that eggs cause diabetes, and the very next day another study in the paper says that eggs protect against diabetes. The bias of the observer influences the conclusion. The fact that you refer to aspartame as "this poison" makes it obvious which sort of bias you subscribe to.

Friend-of-a-friend credibility will only get you so far. You need the science to back up your claims of toxic aspartame.

I know all the American

I know all the American studies are positive towards Aspartame. Just like all the cigarette studies for over forty years were positive for cigarette smoking. You have to look outside of the US to get unbiased studies.

The chemist is actually a close relative of mine. Have your worked with these chemicals in a lab? Have you studied these chemicals intensely or have you just read journals?

So you have read Journals and become an expert in chemistry. Thanks for your insight.

"With enough of us, around the world, we’ll not just send a strong message opposing the privatization of knowledge — we’ll make it a thing of the past." ~ Aaron Swartz

So here we come to the gist of it

You believe it is a conspiracy. That those in power are hiding the evidence against aspartame.

Even during the height of the cigarette propaganda, there were still clinical studies being released which were critical of tobacco for health reasons. The cigarette companies could not suppress these studies, they could only fund their own competing studies and then lobby the government by saying the issue was inconclusive.

You do not see this same situation with aspartame. There are no clinical studies which show it is harmful in small doses, as in soda. I am not an aspartame apologist. I'm just asking you to view this situation sensibly.

I don't care if you're married to this chemist. Show me the journals that support your claims. Otherwise you are no more credible than Dr. Mercola.

Aspartame Damages Brain at any Dose

I found the study that relates my case perfectly. If you exercise and live in a hot environment, and you replace drinking water with Diet Coke, the "intake of methanol can exceed 250 mg/day or 32 times the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended limit of consumption for this cumulative toxin.”

Further, he states that due to the lack of a couple of key enzymes, humans are many times more sensitive to the toxic effects of methanol than animals. Therefore, tests of aspartame or methanol on animals do not accurately reflect the danger for humans.


Here is the study:


Olympic Athlete sidelined by Diet Soda

In 2004, a 25 year old Olympic athlete was diagnosed with Graves disease. Graves disease often strikes middle aged woman. Guess what caused the symptoms?.....Diet soda!


"With enough of us, around the world, we’ll not just send a strong message opposing the privatization of knowledge — we’ll make it a thing of the past." ~ Aaron Swartz

250mg is 25x 355mL cans

Listen, you've already decided that you are a fanatical believer, so my response is not for you, but for everyone else reading this thread.

Okay, that is a legitimate study. On further reading, this is not an actual study, but rather a expository journal article explaining the mechanisms of aspartame toxicity and calling for more research. It did not do any testing whatsoever.

The article mentions a toxic dose of 250mg per day. To exceed a 250mg dose of methanol per day, that requires almost 9L (2.3 gallons) of diet coke. Drinking that much of sugar-sweetened coke in one day is just as bad. Drinking less than 2 gallons of coffee can cause heart arrhythmia. Why aren't you up in arms about caffeine as well? Because it is not dangerous in small doses.

You'll pardon me for disbelieving your "any dose" rhetoric. The breakdown products of aspartame already exist in your body in small quantities all the time. Methanol, formaldehyde, formic acid, all inside you right now. These substances are toxic, so the body is very good at getting rid of them. In order to cause toxicity, you need to overwhelm your body with them in a very short amount of time. To disrupt that balance of toxins and their breakdown products, you'd need to drink the ridiculous amounts of diet coke as described in that study.

You've claimed "any dose" is toxic. What you need to show me is a study that shows lasting damage done by small, reasonable doses of aspartame in diet coke, not gallons and gallons per day.

I'm certain you'd be able to find any number of other athletes who drink diet coke on a regular basis and have no problems. Do you think all the athletes who performed well at the Olympics avoided aspartame? A story about one adverse reaction is no reason to call for alarm or to confirm that something is toxic to everyone. It is a reason for more research.

Ok but it is in so many things now

Like gum, soda, candy, etc. that children are mainly the ones who are ingesting it, possibly doing harm to their developing bodies. I will give you a perfect example yesterday of the ignorant attitude of some people in this country: standing in line at Costco, my boyfriend says loudly "look they are buying organic sugar but aspartame in their gum." The (very overweight) lady says " the sugar is for me, the gum is for my employees." "Oh, so she does know." "Yea, they would rather die of brain cancer than kill the customer with bad breathe," she said, like it was funny! As she buys Orbitz in bulk...

What gum

... is sweetened by aspartame? Almost all of the gum I see these days is sweetened with sucralose or xylitol. Maybe it's different where you are. I can't recall seeing any candy-aisle candy sweetened with anything other than sugar or HFCS. The kids I know are normally grossed out by the artificially sweetened hard candies.

I think the key is that you shouldn't be eating so much sweet stuff. Artificial sweeteners are just potentially dangerous. Sugar is actually dangerous. If people weren't so obsessed with sweet things, they would lower their consumption of both.

I actually have a hard time

finding any gum that doesn't! Big League Chew, most Wrigley's, Orbitz, Dentyne, etc. You are right, anything in excess is bad for you. And I have heard xylitol is good for your teeth, however, since dentists are also the ones who pushed fluoride as well, I am a little skeptical. There is one gum called Tea Berry that I am going to try that uses good old-fashioned sugar...

I always liked xylitol candies and gum

even as a kid. Not sure why. Never liked saccharin, aspartame, sucrolose, or even stevia though. HFCS tends to be too sweet.

Sugars aren't dangerous if you eat them as they were intended-- ie whole fruit...I expect if you ate the whole sugar cane it wouldn't be bad either because it would have more fiber and whatever else might have a dampening the effect. If you overload like we do for sure it is really very bad for you. It is just like alcohol minus the brain effects.

Michael Nystrom's picture


for the night crowd.

He's the man.