How effective are weight loss supplements?

The safest way to lose weight is by maintaining a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise, not by taking a weight loss supplements. How common are weight loss supplements?

According to the NIH,”Approximately 15% of U.S. adults have used a weight-loss dietary supplement at some point in their lives, with more women reporting use (20.6%) than men (9.7%).”

  • Americans spend about $2 billion a year on weight-loss dietary supplements in pill form”

U.S. Government Accountability Office concluded,

  • “little is known about whether weight loss supplements are effective, but some supplements have been associated with the potential for physical harm”
  • Some of these products’ ingredients can interact or interfere with certain medications.
  • Some weight loss supplements contain 10 ingredients.
  • It is important to mention these supplements during a physical examination.
  • I urge you to look at the side effects and drug interactions with other medications.
  • cosmetic safety act, FDA regulation on cosmeticsWho regulates weight loss supplements?

    • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates dietary supplements promoted for weight loss in accordance with the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994.
    • Technically weight loss supplements are not considered drugs.
    • Dietary supplements do not require premarket review or approval by the FDA. But if you do take a drug that has negative side effects, especially if it has been prescribed to you, then I encourage you to look into getting an attorney like the Clinton personal injury lawyer.

    If the FDA does not require premarket safety measure on weight loss supplements then how do we know the products are safe?

    • The weight loss supplement manufacturers are responsible for determining that their products safety.
    • The weight loss supplement manufacturers are responsible for the truthfulness of their labels claims.
    • The manufacturers may not promote these products to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

    What happens if a supplement is found to be unsafe?

    • Unfortunately, several cases have to be reported before the FDA looks into the matter.
    • “If the FDA finds a weight loss supplement to be unsafe, it may remove the product from the market or ask the manufacturer to voluntarily recall the product.”
    • The FDA does not permit weight loss supplements to contain pharmaceutical ingredients.

    Ingredients in weight loss supplements

    Bitter orange

    • Bitter orange became an “ephedra substitute” after it was pulled off the market.
    • There is insufficient evidence to support its role in weight loss.
    • Reported adverse side effects include chest pain, anxiety, ventricular fibrillation, ischemic stroke, myocardial infarction, and death. reference -NIH


    • Caffeine is a stimulant, there is a possible modest effect on decreased weight gain over time.
    • Side effects of caffeine supplements include tremors and high heart rate.


    • No effect on weight loss
    • Side effects include constipation, kidney stones and possible and interference with zinc and iron absorption in the gastro-intestinal tract.


    • Chitosan is a polysaccharide derived from the exoskeletons of crustaceans.
    • There is a possible minimal effect, but the studies that supported chitosan use were poorly designed.
    • Side effects
    • of chitosan include gas and bloating.


    • Chromium is a mineral.
    • The studies reviewed showed a minimal effect on weight loss.
    • Side effects of chromium include nausea, diarrhea, and weakness.

    Coleus forskohlii

    • Coleus forskohli comes from a root of a plant.
    • The studies reviewed showed no effect on weight loss.

    Linoleic acid

    • The studies reviewed showed minimal effect on weight loss
    • The side effects of linoleic acid include stomach cramps and bloating.


    • Fucoxanthin is found in brown seaweed and other algae.
    • Insufficient evidence to make a determination on weight loss effects.

    Garcinia cambogia

    • Garcinia cambogia is a fruit-bearing tree that grows throughout Asia, Africa, and the Polynesian islands.
    • Studies show little or no weight loss effect.
    • Side effects of headaches and stomach upset.
    • According to the NIH, “Cases of liver toxicity have been reported in people taking products containing Garcinia cambogia, other botanical ingredients, and minerals. However, it is unclear whether this toxicity can be attributed to Garcinia cambogia. Because all clinical trials of Garcinia cambogia and HCA have been short, its long-term safety is unknown.”


    • Glucomannan comes from a root, it is filled with fiber.
    • Studies show little or no effect on weight loss.
    • Side effects of glucomannan include bloating.

    Green tea Extract

    • Studies show a possible modest effect on weight loss. According to the NIH, “Taken together, the findings of these studies suggest that if green tea is an effective weight-loss aid, any effect it has is small and not likely to be clinically relevant.”
    • Side effects of green tea extract include an increase in blood pressure, gastrointestinal upset, and liver problems.

    Guar Gum

    • No effect on weight loss
    • Side effects of guar gum include abdominal pain and bloating.


    • Hoodia comes from a shrub in South Africa.
    • Studies show no effect on weight loss.
    • Side effects of hoodia include headaches, an increase in heart rate and blood pressure.


    • Minimal effect on weight loss, reviewers suggested that the studies were poorly designed.
    • Side effects of pyruvate include bloating and a decrease in HDL levels.

    Raspberry ketone

    • Insufficient evidence to determine its effect on weight loss

    White kidney bean

    • Possible modest effect on weight loss
    • Side effects include loose stools and constipation.


    • Is a tree found in Africa.
    • No effect on body weight.
    • Side effects of yohimbe include a headache, high blood pressure, and elevated heart rate.

    Weight loss supplement interaction with other medications

    According to the NIH,

    • Glucomannan and guar gum might decrease the absorption of many drugs that are taken orally.
    • Glucomannan has been reported to lower blood glucose levels, there is potential to interact with diabetic medications.
    • Chitosan might potentiate the blood thinner effects of warfarin, leading to a higher risk of bleeding.
    • Green tea could interact with chemotherapy drugs.
    • Garcinia cambogia can interfere with serotonin uptake inhibitors.

    Drugs that have been pulled off the market make there way back into weight loss supplements.

    • Oxilofrine, a drug that is not FDA approved was found in dietary supplements sold in the United States.

    The authors analyzed 27 brands of weight loss supplements which were labeled as containing methylsynephrine and found that 14 of these brands (52%) contained oxilofrine.

    What is Oxilofrine?

    • The drug was produced in Germany in the 1930’s. It is used to increase blood pressure and has similar effects as ephedrine which can potentially boost athletic performance.
    • The FDA banned ephedrine in dietary supplements sold in the United States.
    • The article states, “Since then, many synthetic drugs, such as oxilofrine, have been introduced into weight loss supplements in an effort to replace the stimulant effects of ephedra.”
    • The authors explain that Oxilofrine has never gone through FDA’s vigorous safety studies.

    Article Reference

    Cohen, P. A., Avula, B., Venhuis, B., Travis, J. C., Wang, Y.-H., and Khan, I. A. (2016) Pharmaceutical doses of the banned stimulant oxilofrine found in dietary supplements sold in the USA. Drug Test. Analysis, doi: 10.1002/dta.1976.

    Why does ephedrine pose a health risk

    weight loss supplementsCommon side effects include nervousness, anxiety, dizziness, spinning, headache, nausea, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping (insomnia), palpitations, and sweating. In high enough doses it can lead to heart arrhythmias.

    If Oxilofrine is similar to ephedrine, the side effects will most likely be the same.

    Voluntary recall of supplements that have viagra and a banned weight loss drug

    Reference FDA website

    Making It a Lifestyle has voluntarily recalled some of its products because these products have undeclared Viagra (Sildenafil) and sibutramine in them. Sibutramine is an appetite suppressant that had been pulled off the United States market due to reports of strokes and cardiovascular events. It was marketed as Meridia. Taking weight loss supplements with banned ingredients can cause health issues.

    FDA warned of another supplement containing Sildenafil 2/2017 –

    What does the FDA say about Sibutramine in Making it a Lifestyle’s Products

    According to the FDA’s website, “The product poses a threat to consumers because sibutramine is known to substantially increase blood pressure and/or pulse rate in some patients and may present a significant risk for patients with a history of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias, or stroke. This product may also interact, in life-threatening ways, with other medications a consumer may be taking.”

    What does the FDA say about Viagra in Making it a Lifestyle’s Products

    “This undeclared ingredient may interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs such as nitroglycerin and may lower blood pressure to dangerous levels. Men with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease often take nitrates.”

    Important Points

    • The FDA’s website posted the Making it a Lifestyle’s announcement but states, “When a company announces a recall, market withdrawal, or safety alert, the FDA posts the company’s announcement as a public service. FDA does not endorse either the product or the company.”
    • No comment by the FDA about any pending investigations or charges.

    What do you think of the name “Making it a Lifestyle”. It is an interesting name for a company whose products contain Viagra not to mention the banned weight loss drug!

    Research your weight loss supplements. The safest way to lose weight is to exercise and eat a well balanced diet.

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