GALACTO-OLIGOSACCHARIDES

OTHER NAME(S):

Galactooligosaccharides.

Overview

Overview Information

Galacto-oligosaccharides are made up of plant sugars linked in chains. They are found naturally in dairy products, beans, and certain root vegetables. People use galacto-oligosaccharides as prebiotics. Prebiotics act as food for "good" bacteria in the intestine. Don't confuse prebiotics with probiotics such as lactobacillus, bifidobacteria, and saccharomyces, which are live organisms that are good for health.

Galacto-oligosaccharides are most commonly used for stomach disorders such as constipation and for preventing allergies in infants. They are also used for colon and rectal cancer, upper airway infections, and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses.

In foods, galacto-oligosaccharides are used as a sweetener.

How does it work?

Galacto-oligosaccharides pass undigested into the colon where they increase bowel mass and promote growth of certain bacteria that are thought to be beneficial.
Uses

Uses & Effectiveness?

Possibly Effective for

  • Eczema (atopic dermatitis). Giving formula fortified with galacto-oligosacchardise to infants at risk for allergy seems to help prevent eczema from developing. But galacto-oligosaccharides don't seem to reduce the risk of eczema in healthy infants without risk factors.
  • Excessive crying in infants (colic). Research shows that feeding infants with colic a formula that contains prebiotics including galacto-oligosaccharides reduces the number of colic episodes compared to control formula plus the drug simethicone.
  • Hives (urticaria). Research shows that feeding infants at high risk of allergies a formula that contains prebiotics including galacto-oligosaccharides reduces the risk of developing hives at 2 years of age.

Possibly Ineffective for

  • Hay fever. Feeding infants at risk for allergy a formula containing galacto-oligosaccharides and probiotics doesn't seem to reduce the risk of developing hay fever by the age of 2 years.
  • Food allergies. Feeding infants at risk for allergy a formula containing galacto-oligosaccharides doesn't seem to reduce the risk of developing food allergies by the age of 1-2 years.

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Asthma. Some research shows that feeding infants at risk for allergy a combination of galacto-oligosaccharides and probiotics doesn't reduce the risk of developing asthma by the age of 2 years. But feeding infants at high risk of allergies a formula with prebiotics including galacto-oligosaccharides seems to reduce the risk of developing wheezing at 2 years of age. Wheezing is linked with an increased risk of developing asthma.
  • Constipation. Some research shows that eating yogurt containing prunes, galacto-oligosaccharides, and linseed may relieve constipation. But other research shows that eating yogurt containing only galacto-oligosaccharides doesn't relieve constipation.
  • Inability to properly digest the sugar lactose (lactose intolerance). Early research shows that taking galacto-oligosaccharides doesn't reduce symptoms like diarrhea, gas, and bloating, in people who are lactose intolerant. But it may lessen stomach pain.
  • A grouping of symptoms that increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke (metabolic syndrome). Early research shows that taking galacto-oligosaccharides doesn't improve most measures of metabolic syndrome.
  • Yellowing of the skin in infants (neonatal jaundice). Bilirubin is a substance in the body. High bilirubin levels in infants can cause yellowing of the skin. Giving a formula containing prebiotics including galacto-oligosaccharides to newborn infants with slightly high levels of bilirubin can reduce bilirubin levels. It's unknown if galacto-oligosaccharides lowers bilirubin in infants with very high levels.
  • Obesity. Taking galacto-oligosaccharides for 2 weeks seems to reduce appetite and might help with weight loss. But longer studies are needed to confirm.
  • Growth and development in premature infants. Early research shows that adding a combination of galacto-oligosaccharides, fructo-oligosaccharides, and pectin acidic oligosaccharides to breast milk or formula doesn't help to improve brain or muscle development in children that were born prematurely.
  • Upper airway infection. Some research shows that feeding a combination of the prebiotics polydextrose and galacto-oligosaccharides helps to prevent upper airway infections in premature infants. But feeding galacto-oligosaccharides to healthy, term infants does not appear to be beneficial. Also, in healthy university students going through exam-related stress, taking galacto-oligosaccharides doesn't reduce the symptoms of upper airway infections.
  • Colon and rectal cancer.
  • Crohn disease.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Flu.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Osteoporosis.
  • A bowel disease called ulcerative colitis.
  • A condition called pouchitis, which can develop after surgery for ulcerative colitis.
  • Stress.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of galacto-oligosaccharides for these uses.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

When taken by mouth: Galacto-oligosaccharides are POSSIBLY SAFE when taken in doses up to 20 grams per day for up to 30 days. Side effects are generally mild and may include gas (flatulence), bloating, stomach cramps, and diarrhea.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Galacto-oligosaccharides are POSSIBLY SAFE when taken in doses of less than 4.5 grams per day beginning at 25 weeks gestation and continuing until delivery. There isn't enough reliable information to know if galacto-oligosaccharides are safe to use when breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: Galacto-oligosaccharides are POSSIBLY SAFE when added to breast milk or formula at concentrations of less than or equal to 7.2 grams/L and fed to infants daily as needed for 6-12 months.

"Auto-immune diseases" such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions: Galacto-oligosaccharides might cause the immune system to become more active. This might increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. If you have an auto-immune condition, it's best to avoid using galacto-oligosaccharides as medicine until more is known.

Interactions

Interactions?

We currently have no information for GALACTO-OLIGOSACCHARIDES Interactions.

Dosing

Dosing

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

CHILDREN

BY MOUTH:

  • For eczema (atopic dermatitis): 20 drops of syrup containing 0.8 grams of galacto-oligosaccharides, along with a capsule of probiotics, daily for 6 months; formula containing 0.8 grams/L of galacto-oligosaccharides and fructo-oligosaccharides daily as needed for 6 months.
  • For excessive crying in infants (colic): Formula containing 8 grams/L of a mixture of galacto-oligosaccharides (90%) and fructo-oligosaccharides (10%) daily as needed for 2 weeks.
  • For hives (urticaria): Formula containing 0.8 grams/L of galacto-oligosaccharides and fructo-oligosaccharides daily as needed for 6 months.

View References

REFERENCES:

  • Bakker-Zierikzee AM, Tol EA, Kroes H, et al. Faecal sIgA secretion in infants fed on pre- or probiotic infant formula. Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2006;17(2):134-140. View abstract.
  • Boehm G, Stahl B. Oligosaccharides from milk. J Nutr 2007;137(3 Suppl 2):847S-849S. View abstract.
  • Cheah PY. Hypotheses for the etiology of colorectal cancer--an overview. Nutr Cancer 1990;14(1):5-13. View abstract.
  • Coppa GV, Pierani P, Zampini L, et al. Characterization of oligosaccharides in milk and feces of breast-fed infants by high-performance anion-exchange chromatography. Adv Exp Med Biol 2001;501:307-314. View abstract.
  • Djouzi Z, Andrieux C. Compared effects of three oligosaccharides on metabolism of intestinal microflora in rats inoculated with a human faecal flora. Br J Nutr 1997;78(2):313-324. View abstract.
  • Fanaro S, Boehm G, Garssen J, et al. Galacto-oligosaccharides and long-chain fructo-oligosaccharides as prebiotics in infant formulas: a review. Acta Paediatr Suppl 2005;94(449):22-26. View abstract.
  • Guarner F, Casellas F, Borruel N, et al. Role of microecology in chronic inflammatory bowel diseases. Eur J Clin Nutr 2002;56 Suppl 4:S34-S38. View abstract.
  • Ito M, Deguchi Y, Matsumoto K, et al. Influence of galactooligosaccharides on the human fecal microflora. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo) 1993;39(6):635-640. View abstract.
  • Kukkonen K, Savilahti E, Haahtela T, et al. Probiotics and prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharides in the prevention of allergic diseases: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2007;119(1):192-198. View abstract.
  • Macfarlane S, Macfarlane GT, Cummings JH. Review article: prebiotics in the gastrointestinal tract. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2006;24(5):701-714. View abstract.
  • Moro G, Arslanoglu S, Stahl B, et al. A mixture of prebiotic oligosaccharides reduces the incidence of atopic dermatitis during the first six months of age. Arch Dis Child 2006;91(10):814-819. View abstract.
  • Moro GE, Stahl B, Fanaro S, et al. Dietary prebiotic oligosaccharides are detectable in the faeces of formula-fed infants. Acta Paediatr Suppl 2005:27-30. View abstract.
  • Nagengast FM, Grubben MJ, van Munster IP. Role of bile acids in colorectal carcinogenesis. Eur J Cancer 1995;31A(7-8):1067-1070. View abstract.
  • Roberfroid MB. Health benefits of non-digestible oligosaccharides. Adv Exp Med Biol 1997;427:211-219. View abstract.
  • Rycroft CE, Jones MR, Gibson GR, Rastall RA. A comparative in vitro evaluation of the fermentation properties of prebiotic oligosaccharides. J Appl Microbiol 2001;91(5):878-887. View abstract.
  • Sairanen U, Piirainen L, Nevala R, Korpela R. Yoghurt containing galacto-oligosaccharides, prunes and linseed reduces the severity of mild constipation in elderly subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr 2007;61:1423-8. View abstract.
  • Savino F, Palumeri E, Castagno E, et al. Reduction of crying episodes owing to infantile colic: A randomized controlled study on the efficacy of a new infant formula. Eur J Clin Nutr 2006;60(11):1304-1310. View abstract.
  • Shadid R, Haarman M, Knol J, et al. Effects of galactooligosaccharide and long-chain fructooligosaccharide supplementation during pregnancy on maternal and neonatal microbiota and immunity--a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;86(5):1426-1437. View abstract.
  • Sonoyama K, Watanabe H, Watanabe J, et al. Allergic airway eosinophilia is suppressed in ovalbumin-sensitized Brown Norway rats fed raffinose and alpha-linked galactooligosaccharide. J Nutr 2005;135(3):538-543. View abstract.
  • Teuri U, Korpela R. Galacto-oligosaccharides relieve constipation in elderly people. Ann Nutr Metab 1998;42(6):319-327. View abstract.
  • Teuri U, Vapaatalo H, Korpela R. Fructooligosaccharides and lactulose cause more symptoms in lactose maldigesters and subjects with pseudohypolactasia than in control lactose digesters. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69(5):973-979. View abstract.
  • van den Heuvel EG, Schoterman MH, Muijs T. Transgalactooligosaccharides stimulate calcium absorption in postmenopausal women. J Nutr 2000;130(12):2938-2942. View abstract.
  • van den Heuvel EG, Schoterman MH, Muijs T. Transgalactooligosaccharides stimulate calcium absorption in postmenopausal women. J Nutr 2000;130(12):2938-2942. View abstract.
  • van Dokkum W, Wezendonk B, Srikumar TS, van den Heuvel EG. Effect of nondigestible oligosaccharides on large-bowel functions, blood lipid concentrations and glucose absorption in young healthy male subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr 1999;53(1):1-7. View abstract.
  • Van Munster IP, Nagengast FM. The role of carbohydrate fermentation in colon cancer prevention. Scand J Gastroenterol Suppl 1993;200:80-86. View abstract.
  • Veereman G. Pediatric applications of inulin and oligofructose. J Nutr 2007;137(11 Suppl):2585S-2589S. View abstract.
  • Veereman-Wauters G. Application of prebiotics in infant foods. Br J Nutr 2005;93 Suppl 1:S57-S60. View abstract.
  • Vos AP, Haarman M, Buco A, et al. A specific prebiotic oligosaccharide mixture stimulates delayed-type hypersensitivity in a murine influenza vaccination model. Int Immunopharmacol 2006;6(8):1277-1286. View abstract.
  • Wijnands MV, Appel MJ, Hollanders VM, Woutersen RA. A comparison of the effects of dietary cellulose and fermentable galacto-oligosaccharide, in a rat model of colorectal carcinogenesis: fermentable fibre confers greater protection than non-fermentable fibre in both high and low fat backgrounds. Carcinogenesis 1999;20(4):651-656. View abstract.
  • Wisker E. [Probiotics]. Zentralbl Gynakol 2003;125(12):475-479. View abstract.
  • Zentek J, Marquart B, Pietrzak T. Intestinal effects of mannanoligosaccharides, transgalactooligosaccharides, lactose and lactulose in dogs. J Nutr 2002;132(6 Suppl 2):1682S-1684S. View abstract.
  • Ziegler E, Vanderhoof JA, Petschow B, et al. Term infants fed formula supplemented with selected blends of prebiotics grow normally and have soft stools similar to those reported for breast-fed infants. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2007;44(3):359-364. View abstract.
  • Wijnands MV, Appel MJ, Hollanders VM, Woutersen RA. A comparison of the effects of dietary cellulose and fermentable galacto-oligosaccharide, in a rat model of colorectal carcinogenesis: fermentable fibre confers greater protection than non-fermentable fibre in both high and low fat backgrounds. Carcinogenesis 1999;20(4):651-656. View abstract.
  • Zentek J, Marquart B, Pietrzak T. Intestinal effects of mannanoligosaccharides, transgalactooligosaccharides, lactose and lactulose in dogs. J Nutr 2002;132(6 Suppl 2):1682S-1684S. View abstract.
  • Ziegler E, Vanderhoof JA, Petschow B, et al. Term infants fed formula supplemented with selected blends of prebiotics grow normally and have soft stools similar to those reported for breast-fed infants. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2007;44(3):359-364. View abstract.
  • 99221 Hughes C, Davoodi-Semiromi Y, Colee JC, et al. Galactooligosaccharide supplementation reduces stress-induced gastrointestinal dysfunction and days of cold or flu: a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial in healthy university students. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011;93(6):1305-11. View abstract.
  • Arslanoglu S, Moro GE, Schmitt J, Tandoi L, Rizzardi S, Boehm G. Early dietary intervention with a mixture of prebiotic oligosaccharides reduces the incidence of allergic manifestations and infections during the first two years of life. J Nutr. 2008;138(6):1091-5. View abstract.
  • Bakker-Zierikzee AM, Tol EA, Kroes H, et al. Faecal sIgA secretion in infants fed on pre- or probiotic infant formula. Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2006;17(2):134-140. View abstract.
  • Bisceglia M, Indrio F, Riezzo G, Poerio V, Corapi U, Raimondi F. The effect of prebiotics in the management of neonatal hyperbilirubinaemia. Acta Paediatr. 2009;98(10):1579-81. View abstract.
  • Boehm G, Stahl B. Oligosaccharides from milk. J Nutr 2007;137(3 Suppl 2):847S-849S. View abstract.
  • Cheah PY. Hypotheses for the etiology of colorectal cancer--an overview. Nutr Cancer 1990;14(1):5-13. View abstract.
  • Coppa GV, Pierani P, Zampini L, et al. Characterization of oligosaccharides in milk and feces of breast-fed infants by high-performance anion-exchange chromatography. Adv Exp Med Biol 2001;501:307-314. View abstract.
  • Djouzi Z, Andrieux C. Compared effects of three oligosaccharides on metabolism of intestinal microflora in rats inoculated with a human faecal flora. Br J Nutr 1997;78(2):313-324. View abstract.
  • Huet F, Abrahamse-Berkeveld M, Tims S, et al. Partly fermented infant formulae with specific oligosaccharides support adequate infant growth and are well-tolerated. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2016;63(4):e43-53. View abstract.
  • Ito M, Deguchi Y, Matsumoto K, et al. Influence of galactooligosaccharides on the human fecal microflora. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo) 1993;39(6):635-640. View abstract.
  • Kukkonen K, Savilahti E, Haahtela T, et al. Probiotics and prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharides in the prevention of allergic diseases: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2007;119(1):192-198. View abstract.
  • Luoto R, Ruuskanen O, Waris M, Kalliomäki M, Salminen S, Isolauri E. Prebiotic and probiotic supplementation prevents rhinovirus infections in preterm infants: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014;133(2):405-13. View abstract.
  • Macfarlane S, Macfarlane GT, Cummings JH. Review article: prebiotics in the gastrointestinal tract. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2006;24(5):701-714. View abstract.
  • Morel FB, Dai Q, Ni J, Thomas D, Parnet P, Fança-Berthon P. a-Galacto-oligosaccharides dose-dependently reduce appetite and decrease inflammation in overweight adults. J Nutr. 2015;145(9):2052-9. View abstract.
  • Moro G, Arslanoglu S, Stahl B, et al. A mixture of prebiotic oligosaccharides reduces the incidence of atopic dermatitis during the first six months of age. Arch Dis Child 2006;91(10):814-819. View abstract.
  • Moro GE, Stahl B, Fanaro S, et al. Dietary prebiotic oligosaccharides are detectable in the faeces of formula-fed infants. Acta Paediatr Suppl 2005:27-30. View abstract.
  • Nagengast FM, Grubben MJ, van Munster IP. Role of bile acids in colorectal carcinogenesis. Eur J Cancer 1995;31A(7-8):1067-1070. View abstract.
  • Roberfroid MB. Health benefits of non-digestible oligosaccharides. Adv Exp Med Biol 1997;427:211-219. View abstract.
  • Rycroft CE, Jones MR, Gibson GR, Rastall RA. A comparative in vitro evaluation of the fermentation properties of prebiotic oligosaccharides. J Appl Microbiol 2001;91(5):878-887. View abstract.
  • Sairanen U, Piirainen L, Nevala R, Korpela R. Yoghurt containing galacto-oligosaccharides, prunes and linseed reduces the severity of mild constipation in elderly subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr 2007;61:1423-8. View abstract.
  • Savaiano DA, Ritter AJ, Klaenhammer TR, et al. Improving lactose digestion and symptoms of lactose intolerance with a novel galacto-oligosaccharide (RP-G28): a randomized, double-blind clinical trial. Nutr J. 2013;12:160. View abstract.
  • Savino F, Palumeri E, Castagno E, et al. Reduction of crying episodes owing to infantile colic: A randomized controlled study on the efficacy of a new infant formula. Eur J Clin Nutr 2006;60(11):1304-1310. View abstract.
  • Shadid R, Haarman M, Knol J, et al. Effects of galactooligosaccharide and long-chain fructooligosaccharide supplementation during pregnancy on maternal and neonatal microbiota and immunity--a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;86(5):1426-1437. View abstract.
  • Sierra C, Bernal MJ, Blasco J, et al. Prebiotic effect during the first year of life in healthy infants fed formula containing GOS as the only prebiotic: a multicentre, randomised, double-blind and placebo-controlled trial. Eur J Nutr. 2015;54(1):89-99. View abstract.
  • Sonoyama K, Watanabe H, Watanabe J, et al. Allergic airway eosinophilia is suppressed in ovalbumin-sensitized Brown Norway rats fed raffinose and alpha-linked galactooligosaccharide. J Nutr 2005;135(3):538-543. View abstract.
  • Teuri U, Korpela R. Galacto-oligosaccharides relieve constipation in elderly people. Ann Nutr Metab 1998;42(6):319-327. View abstract.
  • van den Berg JP, Westerbeek EA, Bröring-Starre T, Garssen J, van Elburg RM. Neurodevelopment of preterm infants at 24 months after neonatal supplementation of a prebiotic mix: A randomized trial. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2016;63(2):270-6. View abstract.
  • van den Heuvel EG, Schoterman MH, Muijs T. Transgalactooligosaccharides stimulate calcium absorption in postmenopausal women. J Nutr 2000;130(12):2938-2942. View abstract.
  • van den Heuvel EG, Schoterman MH, Muijs T. Transgalactooligosaccharides stimulate calcium absorption in postmenopausal women. J Nutr 2000;130(12):2938-2942. View abstract.
  • van der Aa LB, Lutter R, Heymans HS, et al. No detectable beneficial systemic immunomodulatory effects of a specific synbiotic mixture in infants with atopic dermatitis. Clin Exp Allergy. 2012;42(4):531-9. View abstract.
  • van Dokkum W, Wezendonk B, Srikumar TS, van den Heuvel EG. Effect of nondigestible oligosaccharides on large-bowel functions, blood lipid concentrations and glucose absorption in young healthy male subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr 1999;53(1):1-7. View abstract.
  • Van Munster IP, Nagengast FM. The role of carbohydrate fermentation in colon cancer prevention. Scand J Gastroenterol Suppl 1993;200:80-86. View abstract.
  • Vandenplas Y, Ludwig T, Bouritius H, et al. Randomised controlled trial demonstrates that fermented infant formula with short-chain galacto-oligosaccharides and long-chain fructo-oligosaccharides reduces the incidence of infantile colic. Acta Paediatr. 2017;106(7):1150-1158. View abstract.
  • Veereman G. Pediatric applications of inulin and oligofructose. J Nutr 2007;137(11 Suppl):2585S-2589S. View abstract.
  • Vos AP, Haarman M, Buco A, et al. A specific prebiotic oligosaccharide mixture stimulates delayed-type hypersensitivity in a murine influenza vaccination model. Int Immunopharmacol 2006;6(8):1277-1286. View abstract.
  • Vulevic J, Juric A, Tzortzis G, Gibson GR. A mixture of trans-galactooligosaccharides reduces markers of metabolic syndrome and modulates the fecal microbiota and immune function of overweight adults. J Nutr. 2013;143(3):324-31. View abstract.
  • Whisner CM, Martin BR, Schoterman MH, et al. Galacto-oligosaccharides increase calcium absorption and gut bifidobacteria in young girls: a double-blind cross-over trial. Br J Nutr. 2013;110(7):1292-303. View abstract.

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