People find it difficult to exercise on a regular basis and to maintain a healthy diet along with it in order to lose weight. To achieve their goal of losing weight, they find taking dietary supplements as an easier alternate method.
Supplements, also known as dietary supplements, are products which contain nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, proteins or fatty acids. They may also contain enzymes and fiber.
These can be consumed in a variety of forms like tablets, capsules, powder, drinks or as energy bars.
They are widely used by people to enhance the nutrition they get from their food. People also use them to build muscles and become more athletic.
A sufficient amount of nutrients are essential for a good health.Supplements mostly include –
- Vitamins – Vitamin C, D and E
- Minerals – Iron, Magnesium, Calcium etc.
- Fatty acids
- Fiber – Gum, pectin, cellulose etc.
- Herbs – Garlic and other herbal supplements
It also includes Probiotics and fish oils.
Supplements take lesser time to get absorbed in the body, as compared to the nutrients from other food. This can be dangerous to the health of the person as well.
For example, supplements containing minerals such as Iron when taken on an empty stomach can cause nausea and stomach cramps.
They should be tested for any harmful chemicals or contamination and the quality should be checked by the manufacturer before being used by people.
Dietary supplements may show damaging side effects on the body if they react with the food or the medicines taken along with them.
The main problem with using dietary supplements is that there is very little scientifically proved evidence of them being beneficial for the human health. They may be harmful in the long run.
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What does science say about weight loss supplements?
After conducting a number of trials in a study, scientists came to a conclusion that there is no definite use of supplements, hence they should be avoided.
This study indicated that supplements are not beneficial to health, and should not be used for prevention of chronic diseases as well.
A study was done to observe how people react after taking weight-loss supplements. It was found that people who take these supplements feel free to eat more since they believe that the supplements will help in decreasing their weight.
This caused them to gain more weight than what was being lost. Even if the supplements lead to a decrease in the weight, it is very small and insignificant.
Herbal food supplements are used by a large number of people as they are believed to be natural and completely safe.
But a research done on the herbal supplements which claim to help in weight loss revealed that they contain Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs). They may contain carcinogenic or cancer causing substances and show pharmacological effects.
Also, the herbal supplements were found to be dangerous to health as they contain artificial adulterated substances.
Nowadays, even teenagers and children have started using dietary supplements. They usually use it for increasing their muscle build up and to lose weight faster.
But medical professionals discourage their usage as they do not provide the correct information about the dosage. This leads to severe injuries and may even cause death among these adolescents.
Some supplements may cause a limited decrease in the weight or may prevent weight gain. But this does not prove that they help in weight loss over a long period of time.
How does caffeine cause weight loss and side effects?
Caffeine is widely used by people all over the world in the form of coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, medicines etc. It is a psychoactive drug, which means that it affects the brain in several ways.
It is also used as a supplement as it leads to weight loss, but what people don’t know is that it can be dangerous to health due to its side effects.
Intake of caffeine was found to affect the glucose tolerance in people. When glucose tolerance is impaired, it means that the sugar level in blood is very high.
This leads to resistance to the hormone insulin, which may further cause heart diseases and diabetes.
When Does Curcumin Help In Weight Loss?
Curcumin is a powdery substance found in turmeric plant. It is mainly added in food and used as a supplement. It is also used in cosmetic products.
A study aimed at observing the effects of curcumin on people suffering from obesity. It was found that the form of curcumin which is bioavailable, that is, which is readily absorbed into the body, can help in the reduction in weight.
But it does not work alone. A healthy diet should be maintained along with regular exercise for the dietary supplements to show their effects.
Is Green Tea Helpful In Weight Loss?
It is a variety of tea produced by leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. The leaves are not oxidised and the least processed out of all types of tea leaves. The country of origin of green tea is China.
Study shows that green tea does not help in the maintenance of weight once it was lost. This is because it contains caffeine and other similar substances. It was found that people regained weight after having it.
A study revealed that some natural supplements which people believe to aid in weight loss may be injurious to health. Some of the natural herbal supplements commonly used are-
- Ephedra – Its use is discouraged as it may be fatal. It is even banned in some countries now.
- Fenugreek – Even though this is commonly used in food, it is not proven that this induces weight loss.
- Green Tea Extract – It is not recommended as it may cause liver damage.
- Caffeine – It is used as a supplement to suppress the appetite of a person. However, it shows toxic effects on the human health.
- Bitter orange extract – Although this is used in place of Ephedra, there is no evidence to prove that it is effective for reducing weight.
- Raspberry Ketone – This too does not have any scientifically proven effect on weight loss.
Long-term use of supplements for weight loss is not safe for health. They lack sufficient evidence to confirm their effectiveness.
Also, they have been found to contain stimulants. Stimulants are substances that increase the physical activity, but only for a short period of time.
We cannot get a definite result from the studies because the studies are conducted for a short period of time. Hence, they are unable to determine the effects of supplements on people in the long-term.
Hydroxycut is another commonly used dietary supplement for weight loss. It is obtained from the fruit Garcinia cambogia.
It has been reported that this supplement causes hepatotoxicity, which is basically the damage caused to liver due to chemicals.
When certain natural supplements used for weight loss were reviewed, the data which was collected revealed that instead of causing a decrease in the body weight, the supplements further lead to various health risks.
It can be concluded that supplements do not help in weight loss. Rather, a large number of studies show that they can have adverse effects on the health of the person using them.
Most of the supplements which are widely used by people all around the world are not safe. They are not as effective as their manufacturers claim them to be.
Even the dosage recommendation is incorrect on the labels of these supplements. If not taken in the right amount, they may even prove to be fatal.
People of all ages including the adolescents use these supplements to lose weight faster and to gain muscles. Also, people suffering from various health disorders may be tempted to consume them.
Physicians should always be consulted before taking any weight-loss supplement, including the natural and herbal ones.
There is not enough data to prove that supplements cause a significant decrease in weight. More research in this field is needed to show whether they have any long term benefits at all.