|"Aluminum Pill Busters" by Lynn Greyling|
Research Supplement from Credible SourcesIf you have questions about a supplement, look at the scientific evidence and not the advertisements and anecdotal evidence. Find credible studies not funded by the seller. Second, make sure the supplement is safe. Find out more information about products on websites like the National Institute of Health, NSF International, or US Pharmocopeia. I tend to use WebMD. Use your best judgment.
One man I knew lost weight on fen-phen, but had a heart attack soon after. Fen-phen causes regurgitation in the heart valves for a small amount of people. Is that what happened to this man? Maybe. So, I'm wary about even FDA approved drugs because they may be pulled like Fen-phen.
Some Evidence Category
The some evidence category has capsaicin, green tea, and psyllium. I looked up capsaicin and it's naturally in hot peppers. Just eat chili peppers if you can stand the heartburn.
|"White Cup of a Green Tea" by Petr Kratochvil|
After seeing psyllium on the list, I started taking psyllium fiber, just your regular fiber. I believe it may have helped me lose a pound or two, but I also reduced my stress those two weeks. It's supposed to help you feel fuller, but I still benefit from the regulating effects of fiber. (I refuse to take laxatives because I've seen a friend suffer from the aftereffects of anorexia/bulimia.)
Under inconsistent evidence, I only recognize caffeine, ginseng, and St. John's Wort. The others are chromium, hydorxycitric acid, pyruvate, and linoleic acid.
I avoid large amounts of caffeine and only ingest some from chocolate and an occasional cola. It messes with my sleep rhythm and bipolar. The Mayo Clinic recommends under 500 mg a day for adults. Besides, energy drinks with high caffeine and other stimulants cause some teenagers heart palpitations, strokes, seizures, and sudden death (Source).
I took St. John's Wort in my late teens to relieve depression, but I didn't know it actually made my undiagnosed bipolar worse. It increased my hypomania and suicidal thoughts. St. John's Wort isn't for me.
UNSAFE But Effective
Bitter orange, ephedrine, Ma Huang (Ephedra) have strong evidence for weight loss, but are NOT recommended. Some people have had heart attacks, strokes, or died using weight loss supplements containing these ingredients. It's unclear if it may have been a combination of ingredients as the cause. Ma Huang causes mood problems. Why take the risk?
FDA Approved Supplements
There are a few FDA approved weight loss supplements, but most require a prescription. Essentially, they are a last resort if diet and exercise alone don't work. Orlistat blocks fat absorption and the others are appetite suppressants. Follow the links for more information. These drugs include:
- Alli (OTC)
- Orlistat (stronger version of Alli)
- Phentermine + Topiramate = Qsymia
Save Money--Don't Take Any
Weight loss supplements cost money and only some actually work or are safe. Might as well save money and work on other areas to improve weight loss first:
- Social support
- Mental health
- Food tracking
- Portion control
- Physical activity
If you've addressed all these areas, then your doctor or dietitian may recommend weight loss supplements. If you take a supplement like fiber or drink green tea anyway, then it doesn't cost you more money.
I sometimes feel desperate about losing weight, but I'm not addressing some of my other issues such as stress, sleep, and physical activity. Right now I'm concentrating on sleep, reducing stress, eating fruits and vegetables, and being more active. I'll see where my journey takes me.
Have you taken any supplements and what happened for you? Any other thoughts?