How Does Phenylalanine in Gum Affect Your Health?

For individuals suffering from phenylketonuria, a genetic inability to digest phenylalanine, chewing gum containing aspartame can lead to serious side effects, states the Huffington Post. Nearly 85 percent of chewing gums use aspartame, which contains phenylalanine, explains the Waking Times. While individuals suffering from phenylketonuria can experience brain damage from ingesting phenylalanine, most healthy individuals experience no negative effects on their health from chewing gum containing phenylalanine, notes the Huffington Post.

Aspartame, and therefore phenylalanine, has a Food and Drug Administration recommended dosage of 50 milligrams per kilogram of body weight, notes Healthline. Consumed in larger amounts, aspartame can have severe negative effects on health. However, emerging research suggests that recommended amount be lowered to 10 milligrams per kilogram of body weight, explains Small Bites. One stick of chewing gum contains an average of 6 to 8 milligrams of aspartame.

Individuals taking medications for schizophrenia should also avoid any product containing phenylalanine, cautions Healthline. One side effect of schizophrenia medications, tardive dyskinesia, can worsen with consumption of phenylalanine. Specifically, phenylalanine increases occurrences of uncontrolled muscle movements associated with TD.

Some chewing gums that contain aspartame include some Wrigley products, including Big Red, Doublemint, Eclipse, Excel and Extra, Freedent, Hubba Bubba and Juicy Fruit, according to Waking Times. Other companies producing chewing gum with aspartame include Hershey, Ford Gum, Concord Confections and Cadbury, as of 2015.