The Truth About Chitosan
Chitosan is a specific type of fiber that is derived from the hard outer shells of crustaceans like shrimp, squid, and crabs. Like many forms of fiber, chitosan is indigestible and it moves through the digestive system without being absorbed into the body.
Chitosan is most commonly sold as a weight loss supplement and manufacturers of chitosan claim that simply taking chitosan on a daily basis can lead to dramatic weight loss effects. However, dieters have been duped before and a lot of skepticism has been drawn towards chitosan and rightfully so. So what does science say about chitosan?
Chitosan Weight Loss Studies
The most commonly used study is actually a report published 2008 in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. In the report, a total of 15 clinical trials were looked at involving obese adults. Here’s what the report stated:
Overall, the studies found that participants who took chitosan significantly lost more weight and experienced other beneficial health effects like lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. There were few, if any side effects in most studies, which led researchers to believe chitosan is safe.
Sounds great but the report always pointed out one major problem: The studies were poorly conducted. In almost every study, there was a major problem. In some cases, the control group was not really a control group and in other studies dietary and exercise habits varied wildly.
Therefore, the report stated that these studies could not provide conclusive evidence to support the case for chitosan for weight loss nor should chitosan sellers rely upon them to sell their products.
In a much larger report published in 2004, similar results were published. After reviewing a total of 30 trials, the report’s authors found no clear evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, that chitosan was an effective dietary supplement for weight loss.
Possible Chitosan Benefits
While weight loss seems to be unlikely, there are some possible benefits for chitosan. According to some studies, chitosan may be possible effective in:
- Treating periodontitis, a dental condition that affects the gums.
- Remaking tissue after plastic surgery. Chitosan is often used to help rebuild tissue during plastic surgery.
- Helping patients with kidney failure by reducing cholesterol, eliminating anemia, and by improving physical strength and sleep habits.
Is Chitosan Safe?
Like many other supplements that come from crustaceans, a severe allergic reaction can arise in people who are allergic to shellfish or crustaceans. Also, some research indicates that chitosan might block the absorption of certain fat-soluble vitamins and minerals.
In some cases, chitosan users did feel stomach discomfort and nausea, although these were not incredibly common side effects.
Should I take Chitosan?
Unfortunately, chitosan is not the miracle weight loss product we’ve all made it out to be. Therefore, there is really no reason to take it other than for the sole purpose of burning money.
There are far better supplements on the market like diatomaceous earth and krill oil, which have evidence and research to support their claims. Don’t waste your money on chitosan.