Sodium benzoate, a powder formed by the combination of sodium hydroxide and benzoic acid, is a preservative found in many processed foods and drinks for the purpose of increasing their shelf life. * However, it also has other uses and there has been concerns about its level of safety. We’ll touch on what those uses are and how healthy it is for you to consume.
Uses-Sodium benzoate is also used in medications such as cough syrups and prescription medications, and personal care products like baby wipes and toothpaste. *
Benzene Formation-When sodium benzoate is combined with ascorbic acid (vitamin C), a carcinogen called benzene can form. * This typically happens in diet sodas since the sugar in normal sodas typically decreases the likelihood of benzene formation. * However The FDA has said that the benzene levels in diet sodas do not pose a health risk. *
Oxidative Stress-In one study, higher concentrations of sodium benzoate in test tubes resulted in the formation of free radicals, which are known to cause damage to cells and increase the risk of becoming diseased. *
In sum, sodium benzoate, if ingested at smaller levels, will most probably not be detrimental to your health. However, in larger doses, it seems as if the probability of it causing health problems for you could increase. As always, please consult with your healthcare provider when making any changes to your dietary, exercise, and medical regimen.
*Sources- https://www.fda.gov/food/chemicals/questions-and-answers-occurrence-benzene-soft-drinks-and-other-beverages, https://www.fda.gov/food/chemicals/questions-and-answers-occurrence-benzene-soft-drinks-and-other-beverages, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24693251/