Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and Other Oligosaccharides
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3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
How It Works
How to Use It
The average daily intake of oligosaccharides by people in the United States is estimated to be about 800 to 1,000 mg. For the promotion of healthy bacterial flora, the usual recommendation for FOS, GOS, or inulin is 2,000 to 3,000 mg per day with meals. In the studies on diabetes and high blood lipids ( cholesterol and triglycerides ), amounts ranged from 8 to 20 grams per day.
Where to Find It
FOS and inulin are found naturally in Jerusalem artichoke, burdock , chicory, leeks, onions, and asparagus. FOS products derived from chicory root contain significant quantities of inulin,22 a fiber widely distributed in fruits, vegetables and plants, which is classified as a food ingredient (not as an additive) and is considered to be safe to eat.23 In fact, inulin is a significant part of the daily diet of most of the world’s population.24 FOS can also be synthesized by enzymes of the fungus Apergillus niger acting on sucrose. GOS is naturally found in soybeans and can be synthesized from lactose (milk sugar). FOS, GOS, and inulin are available as nutritional supplements in capsules, tablets, and as a powder.
As FOS, GOS, and inulin are not essential nutrients, no deficiency state exists.
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
At the time of writing, there were no well-known supplement or food interactions with this supplement.
Interactions with Medicines
As of the last update, no reported interactions between this supplement and medicines. It is possible that unknown interactions exist. If you take medication, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a new supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
Generally, oligosaccharides are well tolerated. Some people reported increased flatulence in some of the studies. At higher levels of intake, that is, in excess of 40 grams per day, FOS and the other oligosaccharides may induce diarrhea .
There is a report of a 39-year old man having a life-threatening allergic reaction after consuming high amounts of inulin from multiple sources, including FOS.25 Allergy to inulin in this person was confirmed by laboratory tests. Such sensitivities are extremely rare. People with a confirmed sensitivity to inulin should probably avoid FOS.
1. Molis C, Flourie B, Ouarne F, et al. Digestion, excretion, and energy value of fructooligosaccharides in healthy humans. Am J Clin Nutr 1996;64:324-8.
2. van Dokkum W, Wezendonk B, Srikumar TS, van den Heuvel EG. Effect of nondigestible oligosaccharides on large-bowel functions, blood lipid concentrations and glucose absorption in young healthy male subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr 1999;53:1-7.
3. Alles MS, Hautvast JGA, Nagengast FM, et al. Fate of fructo-oligosaccharides in the human intestine. Br J Nutr 1996;76:211-21.
4. Roberfroid M. Dietary fibre, inulin and oligofructose. A review comparing their physiological effects. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 1993;33:103-48 [review].
5. Moro G, Arslanoglu S, Stahl B, et al. A mixture of prebiotic oligosaccharides reduces the incidence of atopic dermatitis during the first six months of age. Arch Dis Child 2006;91:814–819.
6. Yamashita K, Kawai K, Itakura M. Effect of fructo-oligosaccharides on blood glucose and serum lipids in diabetic subjects. Nutr Res 1984;4:961–6.
7. Jackson KG, Taylor GRJ, Clohessy AM, Williams CM. The effect of the daily intake of inulin on fasting lipid, insulin and glucose concentrations in middle-aged men and women. Br J Nutr 1999;82:23–30.
8. Roberfroid M. Dietary fibre, inulin and oligofructose. A review comparing their physiological effects. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 1993;33:103–48 [review].
9. Davidson MH, Synecki C, Maki KC, Drennen KB. Effects of dietary inulin in serum lipids in men and women with hypercholesterolaemia. Nutr Res 1998;3:503–17.
10. Luo J, Rizkalla SW, Alamowitch C, et al. Chronic consumption of short-chain fructooligosaccharides by health subjects decreased basal hepatic glucose production but had no effect on insulin-stimulated glucose metabolism. Am J Clin Nutr 1996;63:939–45.
11. Pedersen A, Sandstrom B, van Amelsvoort JMM. The effect of ingestion of inulin on blood lipids and gastrointestinal symptoms in healthy females. 1997;78:215–22.
12. van Dokkum W, Wezendonk B, Srikumar TS, van den Heuvel EG. Effect of nondigestible oligosaccharides on large-bowel functions, blood lipid concentrations and glucose absorption in young healthy male subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr 1999;53:1–7.
13. Paineau D, Payen F, Panserieu S, et al. The effects of regular consumption of short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides on digestive comfort of subjects with minor functional bowel disorders. Br J Nutr 2008;99:311–8.
14. van Iperen CE, Kraaijenhagen RJ, Biesma DH, et al. Iron metabolism and erythropoiesis after surgery. Br J Surg 1998;85:41–5.
15. Berniere J, Dehullu JP, Gall O, Murat I. Intravenous iron in the treatment of postoperative anemia in surgery of the spine in infants and adolescents. Rev Chir Orthop Reparatrice Appar Mot 1998;84:319–22 [in French].
16. Ohta A, Ohtsuki M, Uehara M, et al. Dietary fructo-oligosaccharides prevent postgastrectomy anemia and osteopenia in rats. J Nutr 1998;128:485–90.
17. Mainous MR, Deitch EA. Nutrition and infection. Surg Clin North Am 1994;74:659–76 [review].
18. Yamashita K, Kawai K, Itakura M. Effect of fructo-oligosaccharides on blood glucose and serum lipids in diabetic subjects. Nutr Res 1984;4:961–6.
19. Roberfroid M. Dietary fibre, inulin and oligofructose. A review comparing their physiological effects. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 1993;33:103–48 [review].
20. van Dokkum W, Wezendonk B, Srikumar TS, van den Heuvel. Effect of nondigestible oligosaccharides on large-bowel functions, blood lipid concentrations and glucose absorption in young healthy male subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr 1999;53:1–7.
21. Luo J, Rizkalla SW, Alamowitch C, et al. Chronic consumption of short-chain fructooligosaccharides by health subjects decreased basal hepatic glucose production but had no effect on insulin-stimulated glucose metabolism. Am J Clin Nutr 1996;63:939–45.
22. Duke JA. Handbook of phytochemical constituents of GRAS herbs and other economic plants. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1992.
23. Carabin IG, Flamm WG. Evaluation of safety of inulin and oligofructose as dietary fiber. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 1999;30:268–82 [review].
24. Coussement PA. Inulin and oligofructose: safe intakes and legal status. J Nutr 1999;129:1412S-7S [review].
25. Gay-Crosier F, Schreiber G, Hauser C. Anaphylaxis from inulin in vegetables and processed food. N Engl J Med 2000;342:1372 [letter].
Last Review: 11-07-2012
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