Can Dietary Supplements Support Slimming?- Facts and Myths

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The market of dietary supplements is constantly expanding, and manufacturers of many available preparations often present their products as a panacea for numerous ailments and diseases. It is no different in the case of supplements supporting weight loss, which are often used by people struggling with overweight or obesity.

What is a dietary supplement?

A dietary supplement is a food that is intended to supplement a normal diet. It is a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, or other substances with a potential nutritional or physiological effect on the body.

Safety of using dietary supplements

A dietary supplement is not a medicine – what does it mean in practice?
What comes to the fore is the lack of obligation to conduct state laboratory tests¬†confirming the composition and operation of the supplement before placing it on the market.¬†In addition, the status of a dietary supplement, usually labeled as “food”, results in less stringent sanitary conditions that should be maintained during its production process.

According to the data provided by the Supreme Audit Office (NIK), in the years 2017-2020, the office received approx.¬†63,000 applications. applications for placing or intending to place a dietary supplement on the market.¬†Only 1,247 of the presented products received the status of a “dietary supplement”.

It is also worth mentioning the existing risk of contamination of some dietary supplements with prohibited and hazardous substances, e.g. amphetamine and its derivatives or anabolic androgenic steroids. This situation may take place, especially in the case of dietary supplements sold on websites by unproven manufacturers.

We must also not forget about the possibility of interactions between the ingredients of dietary supplements and food or commonly taken medications. Improper use of dietary supplements can be harmful to health also due to excessive consumption supply of vitamins and minerals. For this reason, a conscious approach to supplementation is so important and should be consulted with a doctor or nutritionist.

Dietary supplements supporting slimming

A popular group of dietary supplements is preparations facilitating weight loss, among which we can mention, others:

  • appetite suppressants,
  • preparations containing dietary fiber, L-carnitine, and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid),
  • preparations that increase thermogenesis,
  • products that reduce the absorption of carbohydrates and fats.

The dietary supplements in this group include a long list of active ingredients with a potential effect supporting the reduction of body fat. These include caffeine, taurine, green tea extract (including EGCG polyphenol), chromium, capsaicin, chlorogenic acid, bitter orange extract, and many others.

Why do consumers reach for dietary supplements supporting slimming?

Lifestyle change which consists primarily of using a properly balanced diet, including regular physical activity in your daily routine, or sleep hygiene is a process that requires effort and often also leaves the comfort zone. Many people who want to achieve the expected effect faster (e.g. in the form of losing unnecessary kilograms for the holidays) are looking for a simpler method available “on the spot”.

Is it worth taking weight loss supplements then?

If there was an effective dietary supplement for slimming, the problem of obesity would not be widespread on such a large scale.

In light of current knowledge, however, there is insufficient scientific evidence to confirm the effects of most such preparations, as assumed by the manufacturers.


Efficacy of selected dietary supplements: caffeine and green tea extract

Some studies suggest the potential effect of caffeine and green tea extract on the acceleration of metabolism. Consumption of both substances (especially in combination) may slightly promote weight loss by increasing thermogenesis and fat oxidation in the body.

However, we should pay attention to the fact that excessive consumption of both caffeine and green tea extract is not indifferent to health. For example, a large dose of caffeine taken regularly can cause gastrointestinal problems, heart palpitations, or insomnia.

When should you consider dietary supplementation?

Proven and tested dietary supplements should be used in justified clinical cases, which include:

  • people with confirmed deficiencies of vitamins or minerals (after consulting a doctor and dietitian) – these are usually people using very low-energy diets,
  • people on elimination diets for health reasons, e.g. lactose intolerance,
  • pregnant women,
  • postmenopausal women,
  • elder people.

It is also worth mentioning that due to the widespread problem of vitamin D3 deficiency at the population level, it is recommended to supplement this nutrient throughout the autumn and winter period.

Summary

There is still a lack of reliable and extensive scientific analyzes confirming the effectiveness of dietary supplements supporting slimming. Due to the risk of contamination and interaction with drugs and food, possible supplementation should be consulted with a doctor or nutritionist.
Supplements can be a beneficial supplement to the diet of people with known nutrient deficiencies. Undoubtedly, it is also reasonable to introduce supplementation in patients at risk of these deficiencies due to increased demand resulting from age, physiological condition, or special diet.

However, no supplement on the market can replace a healthy, properly balanced diet, taking into account a negative energy balance and regular physical activity.

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