Is Dextrose the Same As Glucose?

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Candy is typically high in glucose (sugar).
Candy is typically high in glucose (sugar). (Image: Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of D. Sharon Pruitt)

Dextrose and glucose are both simple sugars, but are they the same? Product labeling can make it difficult to determine whether dextrose is the same as glucose. Understanding the chemical formulas for each, as well as gaining insight into the rationale behind product labeling will help answer this question.

Fact

Glucose and dextrose both share the same chemical formula, C6H12O6.

Characteristics

Glucose is the simplest form of sugar, whereas carbohydrates (carbs) are complex sugars in terms of anatomical structure. The human body utilizes glucose for its energy needs by converting carbs into glucose.

Are they identical?

Yes. In fact, glucose is often labeled as “dextrose.” One reason is because many national pharmacopeias use “dextrose” as the identifier for the compound glucose. This is why intravenous glucose administered in a hospital is labeled as dextrose. Another reason for the different terminology is perceived marketing advantages.

Product labeling

Product marketers generally hold the belief that consumers view the term “glucose” on product labeling in a negative light. As a result, some companies use the term “dextrose” in place of glucose in their nutritional facts.

Considerations

Due to the confusion over glucose vs. dextrose, some pharmaceutical and medical organizations are lobbying to eliminate the term “dextrose,” and use “glucose” consistently across the board.

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