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Ammonium alginate sources, health risks

Thursday, January 04, 2018 by

Ammonium alginate (E403) is the ammonium salt of alginic acid. It is a natural, indigestible polysaccharide (starch) found in different seaweeds of the family Phaeophyceae (Macrocystis pyrifera, Laminaria digitata, Laminaria cloustoni, Ascophyllum nodosum) such as brown marine algae (kelp and wracks).

Alginates, which are the salts of alginic acid, can be used as thickeners for food items such as creams, jellies, cake fillings, beer, cereals, vinegars, and soybean products. Other food products it can be used in include soft drinks, food coloring, jam, marmalades, and icings. Aside from being used as a thickener, ammonium alginate can also be used as an emulsifier, a stabilizer, and a gelling agent. Medical uses of ammonium alginate include preparations for antacids such as Gaviscon, Bisodol tablets, Asilone tablets, and others.

Some studies show that alginates are also a significant component of the biofilms produced by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a major pathogen in cystic fibrosis, a disorder that affects the cells that produce mucus, sweat, and digestive juices. In cystic fibrosis, alginates cause the pathogen to be highly resistant to antibiotics.

Researches on bioengineering make use of alginates to create hydrogels that consist of microparticles to stimulate brain tissue to regenerate. It is also currently being tested on bone reconstruction, as ammonium alginate properties encourage bio-repair.

Other names and synonyms of ammonium alginate include: CAS number 9005-34-9; (C6H11NO6)n; alginic acid, ammonium salt; ammonium polymannurate; analgine; callatex; collatex ARM extra; digamon; HSDB 1910; protomon; superloid; and UNII-Q9QKJ39Q3X.

Harmful effects that may be caused by ammonium alginate

High concentrations of ammonium alginate may result in an impairment of iron uptake. Other side effects include bloating, diarrhea, and nausea. High consumption of ammonium alginate may result in maternal mortality. It is also high in sodium, with one dose containing more than one gram of sodium – it may increase a person’s blood pressure.

Individuals who are allergic to shellfish may also experience allergic reactions when exposed to or ingesting food items that contain ammonium alginate. Mucosal irritation or mucosal injury may arise from high doses of ammonium alginate, as well as gastrointestinal irritation.

Body systems affected by ammonium alginate

Ammonium alginate highly affects the mucus glands, the gastrointestinal tract, and the respiratory system (obstruction).

However, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies ammonium alginate as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS).

While there are no current demands for further research and testing on ammonium alginate, the lack of information on its toxicity may warrant further study.

Where to learn more


Ammonium alginate is derived from seaweed and is used to thicken food substances.

Ammonium alginate is recognized as a non-toxic ingredient, but may cause allergic reactions in people who are allergic to shellfish.

Ammonium alginate may affect the respiratory system, the gastrointestinal tract, and the mucus glands.


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