Are Dietary Supplements Effective for Weight Loss?

This article outlines what is known about the safety and effectiveness of many ingredients commonly used in dietary supplements for weight loss.

Are Dietary Supplements Effective for Weight Loss?

A recent study published in the journal Obesity has revealed that dietary supplements are not as effective for weight loss as they claim. The research showed that it is rare for people who take these supplements to lose a significant amount of weight. Dietary supplements are marketed as health aids and typically contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, caffeine, herbs, and other plants.So, do dietary supplements help you lose weight? According to Natural Medicines, an independent group that evaluates research on supplements, there is not enough reliable evidence to make a conclusion. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health also states that chitosan has not been proven to be effective for weight loss.

Chitosan is generally safe but can cause an upset stomach or constipation in some people. Additionally, those who are allergic to shellfish should not take chitosan as it is made from seafood.Natural Medicines also states that there is insufficient evidence to assess how well glucomannan works for weight loss. Glucomannan can also interfere with the body's ability to absorb medications, so it is recommended to take medication one hour before or four hours after using glucomannan. In two small studies, people who took 7-keto-DHEA along with moderate exercise and a reduced calorie diet lost significantly more weight than those who received a placebo.The authors of the study called on regulatory authorities to closely examine the dietary supplement industry and its role in promoting misleading claims and marketing products that may be harmful.

Most studies on dietary supplements only involve a small number of people taking the supplement for a few weeks or months. There are hundreds of weight-loss supplements available on the market, such as green tea extract, chitosan, guar gum, and conjugated linoleic acid, and an estimated 34% of Americans trying to lose weight have used them.This fact sheet outlines what is known about the safety and effectiveness of many ingredients commonly used in dietary supplements for weight loss. Some weight-loss supplements have been found to contain hidden ingredients such as prescription drugs that can be dangerous. The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to follow a healthy eating pattern, reduce calories, and exercise regularly under the supervision of a healthcare provider.Until more trial data is available, claims about dietary supplements and weight loss should be treated with caution.

The FDA and Federal Trade Commission can take action against companies that make false or unfounded claims about their supplements or add drugs to their supplements. If a supplement is found to be unsafe, the FDA may issue warnings or request that it be taken off the market.Evaluation should also be collaborative with the supplement industry and academics working together to design high-quality clinical trials on weight-loss supplements, according to Batsis. Guar gum has been studied more than other fibers for weight loss but most researchers say it is not effective.