Chitosan is derived from shellfish, such as crabs or shrimp. It is often used in many different brands of cosmetics and is also found in foods, medical products, and even prescription drugs. It has even been known to be used to make sutures, thanks to the fact that it is antimicrobial and compatible with the human body. Lately, it has been used a lot to help aid in weight loss, but does it really work?
How Does Chitosan Affect Your Body?
In an effort not to get too scientific with things, because not everyone understands the science behind how things work, chitosan helps to lower cholesterol and aid in weight loss by binding to phospholipids and fatty acids in the body.
So what does that actually mean? Chitosan attaches to the fats that you eat and delivers them to your bowel without allowing them to be absorbed into your body through your bloodstream. It does this without affecting the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals that the body needs to be healthy.
Did you know that chitosan can bind to up to 6 times more fat than its weight? This means that it can help to reduce your caloric intake, and in some people has led to a good amount of weight loss.
Who Can Take Chitosan?
Chitosan is not recommended for everyone. If you have an allergy to shellfish, it can be dangerous. This is because it comes from shellfish, and can lead to allergic reaction. It is also not safe for those that take prescription blood thinners because it can increase the effects of the blood thinners and make the blood too thin.
If you are pregnant or nursing, it may not be a good idea to take chitosan. This is due mostly to the fact that it has not been studied enough to be able to tell the safety of it in pregnant or nursing women. As with any supplement, you will want to talk to your doctor to see if it will be something that is suitable for you. This is especially true if you take other medications on a regular basis. You don’t want to take it and end up having it interfere with other things that you take.
Is it Really Effective for Weight Loss?
So, just how effective is chitosan when it comes to weight loss? The truth is that it is not a miracle supplement that will make weight loss a breeze for you, which is what a lot of people think when they take it. Most of the studies that have been conducted regarding chitosan for weight loss pair it with a healthy diet and exercise. It doesn’t matter what it is; nothing is going to offer an overnight solution to weight loss. It is going to take hard work and determination.
The good news is that most of the studies have shown that chitosan has been moderately effective at boosting weight loss results in people that take it on a long-term basis. It isn’t going to be something that offers such drastic results that you notice a difference within just a few days. Most people take it for a few months, or up to six months to really get the most out of it.
Chitosan is also often used by people with Type 2 diabetes. Obesity is the number one cause of Type 2 diabetes, so losing weight can sometimes help this condition to go away entirely. The supplement is not only good at helping people lose weight, but it also can help to reduce blood sugar levels. It does this by increasing the effectiveness of the insulin in your body. This is great news for people who have diabetes.
While chitosan can be something good to add to your daily supplement regimen to aide with weight loss; it can tend to have some pretty vile side effects. People have reported that they began having loose stools, sometimes with an oily texture. This can be gross, and you don’t want to wear white pants if you are going to take it. Also, make sure that you can make it to the bathroom quickly if you need to.
It can also cause you to be gassy, and can even make your stomach hurt. Some people have also reported that it gave them a headache, made them tired, increased anxiety, and even lead to abnormal periods. All of these potential side effects could make you want to steer clear of chitosan, even though it has had a good track record when it comes to aiding weight loss.
Is Chitosan Safe?
The truth is that Chitosan is a very safe supplement to take. It is just a fiber source that comes from chitin. Chitin is found in shellfish (you know, the good stuff – shrimp, crab, and whatnot). It works through your digestive tract without it being absorbed into your bloodstream. It also binds to fats that you eat, to help prevent those fats from being absorbed by your body.
The only problem is that the amount of Chitosan that is found in shellfish doesn’t equate to very much. That means you would have to eat a whole lot of crab legs to get enough of it to make a difference really. This is why a lot of people take Chitosan supplements so that they do not have to spend their entire grocery budget on seafood.
Potential Side Effects of Taking Chitosan
One of the biggest things that you will want to be aware of is Chitosan’s ability to affect absorption of important vitamins and minerals. You may find that your daily doses of vitamins (especially those that are fat soluble) may not be doing you any good if you take too much Chitosan. It can also affect absorption of phytochemicals that are commonly used to prevent certain diseases.
You should also know that taking Chitosan along with other medications can have adverse reactions. It doesn’t mean that you will have a terrible reaction to it, but it can prevent some medications from being absorbed and can also cause certain medications to work overtime.
This is especially true if you are taking birth control pills. Since contraceptives are fat soluble, the supplement can prevent them from being absorbed correctly. This can lead to an unexpected pregnancy. Chances are if you are taking Chitosan to lose weight, you don’t want to get pregnant and gain all that pregnancy weight! Just be aware of this, and don’t take them around the same time. Wait at least two hours after taking your birth control pills or other fat-soluble medications before you take your Chitosan.
Taking Chitosan with prescription blood thinners, such as Warfarin, can cause a more serious reaction. If you take these medications to help thin your blood, then you may find that Chitosan increases the effects of this medicine. It can make your blood much thinner than it needs to be. This can cause a lot of issues, especially if you are prone to bleeding. It can make you bleed and bruise more than you should, which can often be dangerous.
Other potential side effects include:
- upset stomach
Allergic Reaction Warnings
Not everyone can take Chitosan. We already talked about how it comes from shellfish, so it makes sense that people who are allergic to shellfish would not be able to take it. While not everyone that is allergic to shellfish will react the Chitosan, it is good to be on the safe side. Shellfish allergies are often related to the actual meat of the shellfish, so parts of the shell may be safe. The problem is that a shellfish allergy can be life-threatening, so it may be a good idea just to avoid it if you are allergic to shellfish.
Also try: Proactol XS
Is Chitosan Safe for Pregnant or Breastfeeding Women?
Some supplements are fairly safe to take, even when you are pregnant or breastfeeding. You don’t want to run the risk of causing harm to your baby, so it is important to know whether or not something is safe before you start taking it. Chitosan has not been studied in pregnant or nursing mothers, so it is a good idea to avoid it during this time. You can always give it a try once you stop nursing to see if it will help you get rid of some of that post-baby weight.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, chitosan does have the potential to be a good natural weight loss supplement. It just may not be ideal for everyone. Aside from helping with weight loss, it can also help you make your skin healthier and can help tissue to heal faster. It can even help to promote better heart health by reducing the build up in your arteries. It is also great if you have broken bones because it helps the bones to heal faster. These are just a few of the other added benefits of chitosan.
The good news is that Chitosan is safe, but it is a good idea to know the potential side effects and interactions that it can cause.