Think nutritional supplements will make you healthier? There's solid evidence that a daily fish oil capsule or vitamin D tablet is beneficial for some people. But there's little science to support the use of many other popular supplements, including some that are heavily promoted as weight-loss aids. That's the word from cardiologist Dr. James Beckerman, the author of The Flex Diet: Design-Your-Own Weight Loss Plan.
Keep clicking as Dr. Beckerman dishes on six supplements that he says should NOT be part of your weight-loss plan...
Is acai berry the ultimate "superfood?" It does have antioxidant properties, but its antioxidant oomph seems weaker than that of grapes, strawberries, or even red wine. And there is no published study proving that acai berry has any significant effect on weight.
Can hoodia really help with weight loss? Small, non-randomized studies suggest that it can help suppress an overactive appetite, but there's no good research to indicate that it promotes weight loss. Some studies suggest that hoodia can harm the liver and contribute to health problems in pregnant women, seniors, and those with diabetes.
Apple cider vinegar
For half a century, apple cider vinegar has been touted as a natural weight-loss aid. Does it work? A preliminary study (only 12 people) showed that it helped people feel fuller. But scientific evidence that it brings weight loss is lacking. And vinegar's acidity can wreak havoc on the digestive system and bones - and interact dangerously with blood pressure and diabetes drugs. Eat apple cider vinegar on a salad if you enjoy it. But for now, Dr. Beckerman recommends against using it as a supplement.
An essential trace element, chromium picolinate plays a key role in sugar metabolism. Some have argued that chromium picolinate supplements promote weight loss. But several placebo-controlled studies have found no significant benefit. In fact, research suggests that chromium may boost appetite and cravings for carbohydrates - not great if you're looking to lose weight.
Bitter orange has gained popularity because of its similarities to ephedra, which was banned after it was linked to cardiovascular problems. But there's no solid evidence that bitter orange brings weight loss. And there have been reports linking it to strokes and heart pain (angina).
Dietary fiber's role in promoting weight loss is well established. But getting fiber from foods may be more beneficial than fiber in pill or powder form. One heavily promoted fiber supplement, guar gum, does seem to absorb water in the gut, making you feel fuller. But a recent review showed guar gum to be no more effective for weight loss than a placebo. And too much guar gum can lead to abdominal distress.