Facts about Weight Loss Supplements

What you should know before trying to lose weight "naturally"

We’ve all seen the commercials on TV or in magazines: diet and weight loss supplements promising remarkable results. Health magazine states that weight loss dietary supplements are a $3.8 billion industry. We’d all love to lose weight quickly, just by popping a pill. But are weight loss supplements a safe weight loss method, and are natural and herbal weight loss supplements really worth the money?

Weight loss supplements

Diet and weight loss supplements come in many forms: pill, powder, liquid and more, and can be found at your neighborhood drugstore, market and health food store. You can find even more online. But even though they’re available almost everywhere, most diet and weight loss supplement ingredients are not federally regulated, and lack scientific studies to back them up. Because they are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, there is insufficient evidence to support the effectiveness of herbal and natural weight loss supplements. Even with ingredients that seem like they’d be safe to consume, these weight loss supplements are likely unsafe. Talk to your doctor before taking any weight loss supplement, even natural and herbal weight loss supplements, and never use a supplement to replace a healthy balance of diet and exercise.

Natural weight loss supplements

Harry Preuss, MD, a professor of medicine at Georgetown University, says some weight loss supplements can be useful aids to a good diet-and-exercise program. The keyword here is “aid.” Again, these supplements should never be used to replace a healthy diet or exercise. Because they’re not regulated by the FDA, natural weight loss supplements don’t undergo the same rigorous testing as prescription drugs. However, the FDA does monitor product safety after it’s for sale on the market, so check the FDA website before taking any natural weight loss supplement. Always read labels carefully and talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Herbal weight loss supplements

Herbal supplements like green tea, caffeine, hoodia, bitter orange or the Indian herb forskohlii sound natural and safe, don’t they? Think again. According to Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D., bitter orange can cause a range of potentially serious health problems, and that’s just one ingredient. Remember, just because herbal weight loss supplements may be natural doesn’t make them safe. Always check with your doctor before taking any herbal weight loss supplements.

Possible side effects

Natural and herbal supplements based on fruits and vegetables are generally safer than diet pills or supplements that contain chemicals or drugs, but even natural and herbal diet pills and weight loss supplements can have their side effects. Caffeine can temporarily increase heart rate and some herbs may cause gastrointestinal irregularities. In addition, herbal supplements that help reduce your body’s fat intake may also reduce your body’s absorption of vital nutrients and minerals. You should always consult your doctor before trying any new natural or herbal weight loss supplement or diet plan.

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