Diet Supplements for Weight Loss?

Adapted from Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

Don't be conned by diet pills, magic in a bottle, or fat absorbers. Anything really effective is not safe, and those that are safe are no effective. To deal with the real problem, you must make real changes. Here is some data on three of the most popular remedies:

Garcinia cambogia (hydroxycitric acid): In spite of an interesting theory and some intriguing animal studies, the human studies are unimpressive. In the best study to date, 135 patients were double-blinded to receive either 1,500 mg per day of hydroxycitric acid or a placebo. They were all placed on a high-fiber, low-calorie diet. After twelve weeks, the placebo group had lost more weight.1 Conclusion: garcinia cambogia doesn't work.

Chitosan: This form of chitin, derived from the shells of crustaceans, supposedly traps fat in the intestine and is frequently advertised as Fat Absorb. A review of the data available seems to indicate that you would have to consume entire bottle every day to have much of a reduction in fat absorption. The amount of fat absorbed is minuscule and clinical data shows that Chitosan does not promote weightloss.2 Conclusion: Chitosan doesn't work.

Ephedra alkaloids (ma huang): Though this natural stimulant has a small effect on reducing appetite, the FDA has issued a warning regarding serious and potentially lethal side effects associated with the use of products containing ephedra, including arrhythmias, heart attacks, strokes, psychosis, abnormal liver function, seizures, rapid heart rate, anxiety, and stomach pain.3 Ephedra is so dangerous that it has been linked with fatalities--even a low dose has detrimental health effects. Conclusion: it's not worth the risk.

1. Heymsfield, S.B., D. B. Allison, J.R. Vasselli, et al. 1998. Garcinia cambo (hydroxycitric acid) as a potential antiobesity agent. JAMA. 280(18): 1596-1600.

2. Lengsfield, H., A. Nolte, et al. 1999. Effect of orlistat and chitosan on faecal fat excretion in young healthy volunteers. Obesity Research 7 (supp 1): 50S; Heymsfield, S.B. 1999. Safety and efficacy of herbal treatments for obesity. Obesity Research 7 (supp.1: 8S.

3. Walsh, N. 2001. Ephedra users many lose health, not just weight. Family practice News, March 1:23.

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Paul - May 1, 2006 3:18 PM

The HCA section is out of date. They have done a double blind experimental trial with potassium/calcium HCA salt rather than the calcium HCA salts they have used in the past. They also increased the dosage and the treatment group had greater weight loss. The URL is here is you want to read more.

Greg - October 11, 2010 1:42 PM

I take 1 once of AZOMITE in water a day. Is this dangerous? I lost weight using it. It takes hunger away.

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