Food and Pharmaceutical Uses of Maltodextrin

Maltodextrin appears on the labels of many foods, from sugar substitutes to sodas. Why is it on the labels, and what role does it play in the food and beverage industries and pharmaceuticals? Nutritional chemical supplier, Bell Chem, has complied some of the uses of this versatile chemical:

  • Maltodextrin is produced via hydrolysis from starches, such as potatoes, corn, wheat, or barley.

  • Maltodextrin is a complex carbohydrate, meaning it combines multiple simple sugars to build a lengthy chain of carbohydrates. Sugars and carbohydrates are closely related, and maltodextrin is complex enough to be classified as a carbohydrate on a food label, while maintaining the dextrose equivalent (DE) rating of 3 to 20.

  • The DE rating pertains to sweetness, length of glucose chains, solubility, and heat resistance. Below DE 10, substances are considered dextrins. Dextrins have long glucose chains, low sweetness values, low solubility, and high heat resistance.

  • Because it is an expedient source of energy, maltodextrin is regularly used by bodybuilders and endurance athletes to quickly rush energy to hungry cells.

  • In the beer industry, maltodextrin is added while beer is aging to increase the specific gravity of the final product without changing the alcohol content or flavor of the beverage. Maltodextrin also improves beer’s “mouthfeel”, retains the frothy head consumers appreciate, and reduces drink dryness.

  • The most common use of maltodextrin is as a food thickener, where it adds volume and texture to oatmeal, sauces, and salad dressings, for example, while increasing their overall appearance.

  • Sugar substitutes are not measured 1:1 with traditional table sugar. To keep consumers from adding too much sugar substitute, which is generally much sweeter than sucrose at a greatly reduced volume, maltodextrin is added, giving sugar substitutes more bulk to equalize their use to sugar.

  • Much like in the food industry, in pharmaceuticals, maltodextrin acts as a filler. Capsules often contain maltodextrin since it neither adds nor detracts from the medicinal content while stabilizing the drugs.

Call Bell Chem (407) 339-BELL (2355) to learn more about maltodextrin or any of the other chemicals we sell, or browse our website.