Sodium benzoate (E211) is a salt derived from benzoic acid, used as a preservative in a variety of foods, beverages, condiments and cosmetics (mouthwash, shampoo, body lotions, and deodorant).
Also, it is the main ingredient of various paint stripper products, spot removers, and rubber cements, due to its highly solvent and destructive qualities.
E211 is used to help inhibit the growth of fungus and bacteria in acidic products. Concentration as a food preservative is limited by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States to 0.1 percent by weight.
Side Effects Of Sodium Benzoate (E211) In Foods
There are many chemical additives that present health hazards, but synthetic E211 is particularly dangerous because it is able to damage parts of the DNA. This means that the E211 consumed today may still be causing problems for future generations.
In combination with ascorbic acid (vitamin C, E300), potassium benzoate and E211 may form benzene, a known carcinogen and DNA damager. Factors such as heat and time can affect its development.
ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a brain-based syndrome which has to do with the regulation of a particular set of brain functions and related behaviors. In the present day, it is one of the most frequent neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood. For instance, according to In 2011, the CDC, the percentage of children in the US who have ever been diagnosed with this condition is now 9.5 percent.
Researchers at Southampton University noted that tests have shown that this chemical lowers the I.Q. by up to 5 points in children. They also concluded that artificial colors or E211 preservative (or both) in the diet result in increased hyperactivity in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the general population. (1)
In 2011, scientists at the Department of Biology, Gazi University, Ankara, Turkey, evaluated the genotoxic impact of this substance in cultured human cells. They found that the chemical considerably increased damage to DNA (which triggers cell mutation and cancer) when it was added to the cells in various concentrations. Also, this compound is mutagenic, clastogenic and cytotoxic to human lymphocytes in vitro. (2)
In May 2007, professor Peter Piper, an expert on aging, molecular biology and biotechnology at the University of Sheffield, conducted a test on living yeast cells in his lab. He concluded that the sodium benzoate in the soft drinks sampled actually caused damage to the mitochondria, which plays a critical role in the generation of metabolic energy in an eukaryotic cell.
„These chemicals have the ability to cause severe damage to DNA in the mitochondria to the point that they totally inactivate it: they knock it out altogether” – Professor Peter Piper.
Additional severe side effects may result from the combination of sodium phenylacetate and E211, including chest pains, severe headache, fainting, slow heartbeat, blurred vision, unresponsiveness and slurred speech.
Natural alternatives to this compound do exist. One product on the market is called Natamax, a natural antimycotic based on natamycin, produced by fermentation using a string of „Streptomyces natalensis” and blended with lactose.
A few animal reproduction studies have established an adverse effect on the fetus. More importantly, currently there are no well-controlled and adequate studies in humans, therefore, it is recommended to avoid foods and drinks containing this substance during pregnancy.
For some people can also produce mild allergy symptoms, which can include – localized itching, rash, or congestion. Symptoms usually appear within minutes to several hours after ingesting foods containing this compound.
Consuming foods and drinks containing this compound may promote various types of cancer, due to the fact that when is combined with ascorbic acid, it transforms in benzene, that according to studies can definitely cause certain types of cancers.
Is It Vegan?
Yes, because is produced by reacting sodium hydroxide with benzoic acid.