There are several weight loss supplements on the market that promise to help people drop extra pounds and while many of them are reported to have benefits for weight loss, most of these pills are not approved by the FDA and may also have adverse side effects.
Here are some popular supplements and what health experts say about them:
- Milk thistle – The claim is milk thistle can fend off multiple toxins and support liver function, which helps people drop pounds. However, according to WebMD, the evidence is not conclusive. The main active ingredient in milk thistle is Silymarin, which is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, but the benefits of milk thistle are still unclear and more research is necessary to prove its claims for helping people shed pounds. In general milk thistle causes few side effects and can be taken safely for up to 41 months (WebMD). Sometimes, however, it may cause nausea, bloating, upset stomach, gas and diarrhea. Milk thistle may also cause an allergic reaction if you have a ragweed allergy. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid milk thistle as well as women who have fibroid tumors or endometriosis, and women who have uterine, breast and ovarian cancers.
- Green tea extract – For weight control 250 mg capsules taken three times daily may help boost metabolism. According to the National Institutes of Health, green tea aqueous extract may help reduce visceral fat and decrease protein availability in studies done on rats that are fed a high-fat diet; however, studies show that while green tea may help moderately overweight people drop pounds, it doesn’t help keep those pounds off.
- Calcium – Studies done at the University of Tennessee found that people who consume diary products and calcium typically see accelerated loss of pounds. Take 1,000 mg of calcium citrate every day. Be aware that calcium can deplete magnesium, so you should add 400 mg of magnesium citrate for balancing minerals (Pela and Van Ness). Other studies have shown that eating food high in calcium, especially dairy products may help people drop pounds. Dairy products may be one type of the best fat burning foods. Be sure to consume low-fat or non-fat dairy foods, and do not exceed recommendations for total daily fat intake, which is 30 to 35 percent of total calories.
- 5-HTTP – Also known as 5-hydroxytryptophan, 5-HTTP helps boost serotonin, a neurotransmitter that improves mood, and helps promote weight loss by reducing carbohydrate cravings. Most people can start with 50 to 100 mg a few times a day and work up to 400 mg daily, but people should make sure to check with their doctors first because some studies show there could be adverse side-effects (WebMD).
- Chromium picolinate – This trace mineral helps people lose extra pounds, and since the mineral is difficult to get from a regular diet, some health experts recommend taking 200 to 400 micrograms daily. If you have liver or kidney problems, you should be cautious about taking chromium picolinate because adverse side effects have been reported. You should also check with your doctor first if you suffer from diabetes or depression (WebMD).
- Conjugated Linoleic Acid – Also referred to as CLA, conjugated linoleic acid is supposed to fight fat and help people build lean muscle. It’s also reported to help fight cancer, atherosclerosis and diabetes. Before taking CLA supplements, make sure to check with your doctor first. There are some inconsistencies in studies done with mice and people. Some health experts state that taking CLA may affect the liver, so it’s important to be especially cautious about the dosage. Health experts recommend taking between 3 to 9 grams per day.
Weight Loss Supplements
In general weight loss supplements are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that the companies that manufacture supplements are not required to get FDA approval prior to selling their products. Instead these companies are responsible to make sure their own supplements are safe for human consumption and the claims they make about the product are true.
Before taking any supplement to shed pounds, be sure to check with a doctor first. Always be cautious about the quality of supplements, and be sure to buy them from reputable companies.
“Chromium: Side Effects.” WebMD.
“5-HTP: Side Effects and Safety.” WebMD.
Healy, Melissa. “Here’s What’s Really in Those Bottles; Weight Loss Labels Don’t Always Say What’s Inside. Here are the Most Common Ingredients.” Los Angeles Times. March 25, 2009.
Pela, Robrt L and Van Ness, David. “Holistic Weight Loss.” Natural Health. May2006, Vol. 36 Issue 5, p51-96.