Diet Supplements Not
Effective for Weight Loss
- Diet Supplements - Dietary
Supplements - Health
Risks - Ephedra/Ma
Huang Health Risk
Diet or Dietary Supplements - Definition
The 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) defines a dietary supplement as a product taken orally that adds to a person's diet through the use of nutritional ingredients. Examples of dietary supplements include vitamins, minerals, herbs, and enzymes. Some diet pills used to enhance weight loss are marketed as nonprescription dietary supplements.
Diet or Dietary Supplements - FDA Regulation
The 1994 DSHEA places the initial responsibility of determining whether or not a product is safe on the maker. The FDA must demonstrate that a dietary supplement has harmed consumers before it can stop it from being sold. Once a brand of diet supplements is on the market, recording and monitoring of ill-effects caused by the diet supplements is the voluntary responsibility of the manufacturer.
Diet Supplements - Ineffective for Weight Loss
There is no evidence that the use of diet supplements alone, causes weight loss. Some weight loss trials have indicated small additional weight loss benefits for people taking diet supplements, but only when taken as part of a proper diet and exercise program. On the other hand, diet supplements can cause a variety of side effects, such as: heart problems, increase risk of stroke , shortness of breath, fluid retention, inability to concentrate, shakiness, sleep problems, malnutrition, binge eating when diet supplement wears off, and rapid weight gain after you go off the supplements.
Herbal Diet Supplements - No More Effective for Weight Loss
Some claims about the supposed weight loss benefits of herbal weight loss supplements or "natural" fat-burners or appetite suppressants are even more misleading. Many of these herbal diet supplements are amphetamine-type stimulants, which theoretically increase the metabolism and help the body break down fat. Nevertheless, there is very little (if any) evidence that they are effective for weight loss. In addition, some diet supplements (e.g. those containing ephedra/ma huang) have been linked to serious side effects such as heart attacks, seizures, and death.
"Natural" Diet Supplements - "Herbal Phen-Fens" - Safety Not Guaranteed
Herbal phen-fens - named for their supposed weight-loss resemblance to the banned prescription drug combination of phentermine and fenfluramine - are by far the biggest sellers of herbal weight-loss supplements. The big difference, according to herbal phen-fen makers, is that unlike the prescription drug, herbal phen-fens are completely safe because they use "natural" ingredients. This is not true.
According to Dr. Kathy Kapica, PhD, RD, associate professor of nutrition and dietetics at Chicago Medical School:
Diet Supplements - Labelling and Ingredients
Another major problem is that due to the lack of legal standards and FDA regulatory powers over herbal diet supplements, consumers cant always be sure that the products they are getting are pure, or even contain what the labels say. Most herbal phen-fen supplements contain a mixture of herbs which often include ephedra, St. Johns wort, chromium picolinate and others. Some diet-supplement ingredients like ephedra, can be dangerous when abused, while others, such as St. Johns wort and chromium picolinate, show no clinical evidence of being beneficial for weight loss.
Diet Supplements - Bottom Line
Some Diet and Weight Loss Supplements Reviewed
Ephedra in Diet Supplements
Ephedra, also known as ma huang, is a strong stimulant found in popular "herbal phen-fen" weight loss supplements. While it relieves nasal congestion and some allergic disorders, Varro E. Tyler, an authority of the medicinal use of herbs, states: "there is no substantial clinical evidence that [ephedra] is either a safe or effective promoter of weight loss." And, ephedra can be very damaging to the body, especially when abused. When taken regularly in weight loss supplements, your body can stay in an unnaturally high gear and there is risk for heart palpitations, heart attacks, and strokes.
St. Johns Wort in Diet Supplements
Many herbal "phen-fen" supplements with ephedra contain St. Johns wort as well. Manufacturers of diet supplements containing St. Johns wort claim it may increase the production of the brain chemical serotonin, possibly having a positive influence on mental wellness, which could help suppress overeating that may be linked to depression. However, there is no clinical evidence to substantiate that St. Johns wort has weight loss benefits.
Chitosan in Diet Supplements
Sellers of this popular diet supplement tout its ability to "trap" and get rid of dietary fat and cholesterol. The theory is that when taken regularly, chitosan-a non-digestible dietary fiber-will decrease the absorption of fats and carry them, along with their calories, right out of the body. While there have been some promising studies that show chitosan to have a cholesterol-lowering effect in animals, there is absolutely no research indicating that chitosan is effective for weight loss in humans. In fact, Chitosan has the potential to be harmful due to the fact that it binds fat soluble vitamins, which could result in deficiencies and set in motion other harmful effects.
Chromium in Diet Supplements
The mineral chromium, found in tiny amounts in almost all foods, helps the body burn fat, build muscle, and control blood sugar. Sellers of chromium diet supplements claim that chromium pills are effective for weight loss but while a few studies have found that chromium supplements apparently lead to small gains in muscle and modest weight loss (as in roughly 2 pounds of fat lost per month), several recent studies have found no such effects.
Richard A. Anderson, lead scientist at the United States Department Of Agriculture's Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, has studied chromium supplements in many contexts over the last 20 years, and he's never seen the supplements change a person's body weight. He says:
Diet Supplements - Diuretics
Diet supplements that contain diuretics stimulate water-loss. If you take a diet supplement that makes you lose (say) 2 pints of water, your weight will decrease by about 2 pounds, but the moment you drink liquids, this water will be replaced in the body and you will regain your lost weight. Unless prescribed by a physician, diuretics are potentially harmful because certain diuretics increase potassium losses causing muscle weakness, including weakening of the heart muscle, and mental confusion.
Diet Supplements - Laxatives
Diet supplements that contain laxatives stimulate the digestive system and can cause severe diarrhoea. Any weight loss is likely to be water loss, not fat loss. If you are taking one of these products and find that you are constantly suffering from diarrhoea, then it is advisable to stop taking the diet supplement immediately as you may develop dehydration and vitamin and mineral deficiencies, all of which may have bad effects on health. In short, diet supplements that contain laxatives are not good for weight loss or health.
Diet Supplements, Herbal Pills - Be Sceptical of Impressive Weight Loss Claims
When buying diet supplements, be sceptical of claims of easy weight loss. If weight control was that easy, or fast, a major weight loss drug company (who spends millions researching weight control medications) would surely have produced such a miraculous weight loss supplement and all of us would know about it.
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