Chitosan is frequently marketed as a form of natural weight loss supplement. It is found in products where it is the only active ingredient as well as in formulations with several ingredients.
It is a substance that is made out of crustacean shells, from creatures such as lobster, crab, and shrimp. The majority of product manufacturers that use this substance as a part of their diet pills claim that this ingredient helps to combat the absorption of fat into the body.
More specifically, it is a fibrous substance that may block absorption of dietary fat and cholesterol, which is often why it is found in several OTC weight management products.
That being said, while many claims have been made about this ingredient in regard to weight loss, there is very little clinical evidence that supports the claims that it helps to prevent the absorption of fat in the human body or that chitosan has any other weight loss benefits, for that matter.
In 2008, a report was published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, which detailed the review that researchers conducted regarding 15 different clinical trials. This represented the participation of a total of 1,219 people in test of the effects of chitosan on overweight and obese adults. When compared to the results achieved by the participants who were given placebos, those who were treated with chitosan appeared to have experienced positive changes in blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and weight loss.
However, the authors of that review pointed out that the majority of the trials that were reviewed were of a poor quality, at best. Moreover, the results that were generated from high quality studies indicated that the impact of chitosan on weight loss was minimal, at best.
A much broader study was published in 2004 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and it suggested that chitosan may not have any benefit in weight loss. It examined five previously published meta-analyses and reviews which examined a total of 25 different clinical trials. What those authors found was that there was “no evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that any specific dietary supplement is effective for reducing body weight.”
As chitosan has been greatly studied but has yet to produce any evidence that this ingredient works effectively to help to promote weight loss, it is unlikely that many – if any – doctors would recommend the use of this substance on its own or as a part of a formulation in order to help to achieve faster and easier weight loss.
Potential Side Effects
Additionally, chitosan is not without side effects. While it is considered possibly safe for most people who are not allergic to it, there are some adverse reactions associated with this product when it is ingested. Some of these possible adverse reactions include, but are not necessarily limited to:
- Upset stomach
- May reduce the body’s ability to absorb certain essential nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E, and K, and calcium
What More to Consider
Keep in mind that if you are taking a diet pill that contains more than Chitosan, there is no guarantee that there is a sufficient amount of the substance for it to work optimally. Moreover, additional ingredients may increase the risk of adverse effects. For this reason, it may be in your best interest to choose a supplement product that contains only Chitosan and is made by a reputable brand if this ingredient is something you would like to try.
Additionally, if you are considering taking Chitosan for weight loss or to treat another health issues, etc., it would probably be best to run your plans by your doctor, especially if you have an existing medical condition, are currently taking other medications or supplements to treat a health condition or are pregnant or nursing.
Finally, as Chitosan is made from the shells of crustaceans, it should be avoided by anyone with a seafood allergy.