Which Fiber Supplements Are Gluten-Free?

We All Need Fiber. But Which Supplements Are Gluten-Free?

Which fiber supplements are gluten-free?. Jane M. Anderson

Few of us get enough fiber in our diets: the average American, in fact, gets only about half of the 20 to 35 grams of daily fiber that's recommended. And when you go gluten-free you can inadvertently compound the problem, because whole-grain wheat is a common source of fiber.

So what can those of us with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity do to get enough fiber?

One option is to consume a fiber supplement.

These supplements can provide a portion of the daily fiber requirement, which means you need to get less from other sources.

Which Fiber Supplements Are Safe When You're Gluten-Free?

There are numerous fiber supplements that are considered legally gluten-free (meaning they contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten), and are therefore safe on the gluten-free diet. However, you should be aware that several popular fiber supplements may contain trace gluten (below legal "gluten-free" limits) even if they are labeled as "gluten-free," and one popular fiber supplement is made from wheat, even though it's labeled "gluten-free" (yes, this is legal).

Here's a list of common fiber supplements, and what they say about their gluten-free status:

  • Benefiber. This common fiber supplement comes in powder form. It's marked as gluten-free (less than 20 parts per million of gluten), but its primary ingredient is wheat dextrin, a portion of the wheat plant that does not contain the gluten protein. Three teaspoons contains 3 grams of dietary fiber, all of it soluble. It's up to you whether you want to chance this brand (I personally would look for a fiber supplement not made from wheat).
  • Citrucel. Made by pharmaceutical manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline, this fiber supplement is made from "a natural soluble plant fiber" (the company declined to say which plant). According to the manufacturer: "All Citrucel products are gluten-free. Citrucel products do not contain any wheat, barley or rye-based ingredients." Citrucel comes in orange powder, sugar-free orange powder, and in caplets. The powders contain two grams of fiber per dose, while the caplets contain half a gram of fiber each.
  • Fiber-Con. The active ingredient in FiberCon is calcium polycarbophil, an over-the-counter drug that treats constipation by making your stool absorb water. It's described as a "bulk-forming laxative," and manufacturer Pfizer, Inc., says it generally produces a bowel movement in 12 to 72 hours. According to a customer service representative, the raw materials for FiberCon are not derived from gluten grains, and the product is made in a gluten-free facility. However, Pfizer does not test the final product for gluten, and therefore does not label it "gluten-free." (My own translation of this company disclaimer: There's a small risk that the raw materials could contain some gluten cross-contamination, likely at low levels) FiberCon is not intended for long-term use: "Do not use for more than seven days unless directed by a doctor, [and] do not take more than eight caplets in a 24-hour period unless directed by a doctor."
  • Fiber Choice. Available in multiple flavors (some of which contain added vitamins and minerals), Fiber Choice chewable tablets get their fiber from inulin, a type of vegetable fiber. Beware if you follow a low-FODMAP diet, as inulin is a FODMAP and can trigger irritable bowel syndrome symptoms in some people. According to a customer service representative, all flavors of the Fiber Choice chewable wafers are considered gluten-free. The Fiber Choice Fruity Bites gummies contain different ingredients, and the company makes no gluten-free claims about them, so I would suggest steering clear. Two Fiber Choice tablets contain three grams of fiber, and manufacturer Prestige Brands Holdings, Inc., says you can take up to five tablets per day safely.
  • Fiber Well Gummies. These chewable fiber supplements made by Church & Dwight Co., Inc., provide five grams of soluble fiber sourced from polydextrose in a two-chewie serving. They also contain added B vitamins. The gummies are labeled "gluten-free" and are processed in a wheat-free facility that also processes egg, fish, shellfish, soy and tree nut products.
  • Metamucil. Made from psyllium husk, Metamucil may be the best-known brand of fiber supplement available in the U.S., and it comes in powder, capsules, health bars and wafers. Two teaspoons of original coarse powder Metamucil contains 6 grams of fiber, including 5 grams of soluble fiber. According to the company: "All Metamucil powders and capsules are gluten-free (less than 20 ppm). Meta Fiber Wafers, however, contain gluten (Apple Crisp 0.7 grams/serving; Cinnamon Spice 0.5 grams/serving) because they have wheat flour as an ingredient." Therefore, if Metamucil is your fiber supplement of choice, steer well clear of the wafers. If you're particularly sensitive to trace gluten, you may want to choose another brand: Metamucil packaging contains a warning that the product may contain trace gluten below the legal 20ppm limit.
  • NOW Foods Psyllium. These supplements, available in capsules, powder, flavored and unflavored versions, are marked "free of wheat and gluten" by the manufacturer. The capsules may be attractive to those who don't like the gritty feel and taste of powder fiber supplements, but you need to take three capsules to get 1 gram of fiber. Alternatively, one tablespoon of the powder formula gets you 7 grams of fiber, including 6 grams of soluble fiber and 1 gram of insoluble fiber. If you want your supplements as pure as possible, NOW Foods Organic Whole Psyllium Husk contains no added ingredients.

It's clearly possible to find fiber products that contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. If you want to try to avoid all gluten, including trace gluten, you may want to consider sticking with products that the manufacturers say have little chance of cross contamination.

Continue Reading