A. Stevia has been touted as a "natural" sweetener and an alternative to sugar, but is it safe for us to consume? Though it seems this non-caloric sweetener just made its name recently, the stevia plant has a long history of use as a sweetener in South America. These newer stevia sweeteners—sold under brand names like Truvia, Stevia in the Raw or OnlySweet, and in blends with sugar, such as PureVia or Born Sweet Zing (at 8 to 10 calories per teaspoon)—include a highly purified extract of stevia called Rebaudioside A (a.k.a. Rebiana or Reb A). Reb A is 200 times sweeter than sugar and does not raise blood sugar.
Until December 2008, stevia and its derivatives could be sold in the U.S. only as dietary supplements, due to safety concerns. In the 1980s, animal studies linked stevia with adverse effects on fertility and reproductive development and possible genetic mutations. But in 2008, the makers of Truvia and PureVia submitted research to the Food and Drug Administration regarding Reb A's safety and petitioned for it to become a Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) ingredient.
The FDA affirmed, and still maintains, the GRAS status only for highly purified stevia extracts (Rebaudioside A, or Reb A). Whole stevia leafs, including products containing "crude stevia extract" or "whole leaf stevia," are not classified as GRAS because data is lacking on their effects on the cardiovascular, urinary and reproductive systems.
However, some consumer advocacy groups, like The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), criticize the quality of the studies (which are often done by the manufacturers themselves) and think the Reb A's GRAS status was granted prematurely. "In the past, FDA protocol required repeated testing in two separate animal species prior to approval, but in this case it didn't," says David Schardt, nutrition expert with CSPI. "We are not warning people to avoid Reb A, but the public should be aware that the FDA did not follow all the usual safeguards."
Despite being "natural," sugar substitutes like Stevia that earn the GRAS status usually don't have as much safety data as approved additives, meaning it's worth using Stevia sparingly—the daily acceptable dietary intake, or ADI, for Stevia is 9 packets.
Bottom Line: The FDA considers Reb A a safe sugar substitute, but has not approved other forms of stevia. If you want to use stevia, we suggest sticking with Reb A (look for it on the ingredient label), and using it sparingly.
I think some people confused. Stevia is Not Aspartame, they are two different things.
01/05/2014 - 1:55pm
01/03/2014 - 9:15am
When I add stevia to my fresh lemonade, I remain thirsty and my body becomes stressed from dehydration. When I use honey or pure maple syrup I can feel my tissues hydrating. Lemon helps that process. I have a feeling that in a dozen years science will show problems with stevia, probably because it is so over processed it is no longer natural and the body tries to reject it.
12/31/2013 - 2:48am
Regarding artificial sweetners; keep in mind more you consume the more adverse affects you will have. Migranes also can be cause by natural foods. I read some where that there are certain foods such as onions can cause migranes, I believe it was different for each person. Remember, while of course it is always better to consume beverages/foods that are natural, although it is all about Moderation.
You can by organic honey, I think you can by anything organic. I wish organic foods were not so costly; my local grocery store it is amost double the cost to buy organic than it does the other stuff.
To quote a title of a book I am currently reading; CHANGE Before You Have To. Change is hard, but that is what life is about. We all must go through change; don't fight it; embrace it.
12/19/2013 - 10:21am
"Aspartame proven safe? Oh please....it's known to have over 92 side effects including multiple cancers and death.....it's killed half the rats they tested it on...now that's a fact."
Cane sugar kills half the rats it is tested on. Assuming it consumes 29700mg/kg... Now that's a fact. LD50 is a powerful tool.
12/14/2013 - 9:49pm
"This may sound like an odd question but does one have to worry about GMOs and stevia production?"
As an internal source... you will not have to worry about GMOs in stevia. Stevia is bred/released naturally.
12/14/2013 - 9:43pm
The FDA is reluctant because they don't see their $$$ from it. Aspartame gave me terrible migraines for 23 years - until I wised up and quit it. The FDA says aspartame is fine, I was depressed, suicidal, and miserable all those years from their "approved" sweetener. I've used stevia since then - NO PROBLEMS!
Now coca-cola and other legalized murderers want it, as soon as they cough up the dough for the FDA, it will be just dandy as a safe sweetener.
12/13/2013 - 4:40pm
I have been using stevia powder (around 1500mg a day) for 22 years. Never had any problems..
12/11/2013 - 11:10pm
This may sound like an odd question but does one have to worry about GMOs and stevia production?
12/11/2013 - 2:10am
well, i have been taking a product called Vega Electrolyte Hydrator. it has Stevia in it. i thought i would do my own research just like it has been suggested above but in this case i am frustrated how much time and emotional energy goes into these respoces that dance around the issue. Is Stevia bad or not? reference me the study that says yes or no.