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Galactooligosaccharides

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • ?-galactosidase, beta-galactosidase, Bi2muno®, Bi2muno®, Bi2tos®, Bi2tos®, bifidogenic, Bimuno®, Bitos®, Elix'or®, galacto-oligosaccharide, galactosyl lactose, oligogalactose, oligogalactosyl lactose, prebiotic, probiotic, synbiotic, transgalacto-oligosaccharides (TOS), transgalactooligosaccharides, Vivinal®GOS.
  • Note: The galactooligosaccharides designed for human use are marketed by Clasado, Inc. (UK) under the brand name Bi2muno®, while Bi2tos® is designed for animal use.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Galactooligosaccharides (GOS) are short polymers of galactose and glucose, which may vary in chain length. Bacterial beta-galactosidases produce heterogeneous mixtures of GOS naturally through hydrolysis and transgalactosylation of lactose, according to secondary sources. Human digestive enzymes can break beta-glycosidic bonds in lactose, but not into GOS or other oligosaccharides (1). Therefore, galactooligosaccharides pass through the intestines undigested.
  • Galactooligosaccharides are fermented in the colon by anaerobic bacteria and promote the growth of intestinal flora (2). Thus, galactooligosaccharides are considered prebiotics. Other nondigestible oligosaccharides that have prebiotic effects include fiber gums, fructooligosaccharides (FOS), inulins, isomalto-oligosaccharides, lactilol, lactosucrose, lactulose, pyrodextrins, soy oligosaccharides, and xylooligosaccharides.
  • Prebiotics are not to be confused with probiotics, which are bacteria strains (such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria) that are taken as supplements to promote the establishment of beneficial microflora. Because they promote the growth of Bifidobacteria, galactooligosaccharides are also said to possess bifidogenic properties. The term "synbiotic" refers to a product that contains both a probiotic and a prebiotic.
  • Galactooligosaccharides purportedly have numerous beneficial effects. Besides their well-known prebiotic properties, it has been proposed that they promote immune development in children. Galactooligosaccharides are believed to mimic the oligosaccharides found naturally in human breast milk, which may contribute to the known health benefits of breastfeeding. Infant formulas in Europe have been supplemented with galactooligosaccharides since 2001, and numerous studies support the safety and prebiotic effects of galactooligosaccharide supplementation in infants.
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Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.