Search Term: " Lipotropic "
May 02, 2009 11:41 AM
Methionine is an essential amino acid, meaning that it is not synthesized by the body, and so has to be taken as part of your diet. It also contains sulfur, one of two sulfur-containing amino acids that can form proteins, the other being cysteine. It is a precursor for taurine, which is an aminosulphonic acid, and not strictly an amino acid, which together with cysteine supports the health of your cardiovascular system and helps to eliminate toxins from the body.
Maintenance of Cell Membranes
It is also an important intermediary in the maintenance of cell membranes. Phospholipids are fat-soluble components of the cell membrane, phosphatidylcholine being a very important example. Also known as lecithin, this substance is derived from choline, itself biosynthesized in a chemical pathway involving S-adenosylmethionine.
This substance is made in the body from ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and methionine with the help of the enzyme methionine adensosyltransferase. Known as SAM (or SAM-e), S-adenosylmethionine employs a number of metabolic pathways in its reaction, though generally aminopropylation, transmethylation and transsulfuration. These add aminopropyl, sulfo and methyl groups to a number of substances, the most common being the methylation of proteins, nucleic acids and lipids.
Phosphatidylcholine is produced by the enzyme-catalyzed sequential methylation of phosphatidylethanolamine, SAM donating the methyl groups. The maintenance of the integrity of the cellular membrane by phosphatidylcholine is critical to all of the basic processes in human biology, including communication between cells, flow of information and bioenergetics.
A by-product of this reaction is homocysteine, formed in the liver from the S-adenosylhomocysteine that SAM is changed to after donating methyl groups. Excess homocysteine in the blood can create the risk of myocardial infarction and cardiovascular disease. SAM is also of use in the treatment of depression and of arthritis.
Creatine is a substance well known to athletes as being useful in provide short-term energy for high-intensity training. Although available in the diet, about 50% creatine used by the body is biosynthesized from methionine and two other amino acids, glycine and arginine. It allows a burst of energy lasting about 10 seconds, carried out without the use of glycogen reserves or fatty tissue.
Glycine and arginine combine to release ornithine as a by-product, and form guanidino acetate. SAM donates a methyl group to the latter to form creatine, about 95% of which is then stored in the skeletal muscle tissue. The stored creatine phosphate has the effect of allowing the muscle cells to hold more water, which also enables an enhanced level of protein synthesis, and hence an increase in muscle bulk, which also results from the increased blood flow resulting from the short-term high-intensity exercise that creatine allows.
Creatine can also increase the levels of MRF4 (myogenic transcription factor), resulting in an increasing in the myonuclei provided by satellite cells to damaged muscle tissue, that not only repair damaged muscle fibers, but also increase their ability to grow.
Detoxification of the Liver
Substances that help the liver to process fats, or lipids, are known as Lipotropic, and the important Lipotropics in human biochemistry are imositol, betaine, choline and methionine. They prevent fat from accumulating in the liver, and methionine is also useful in its effect of glutathione. This is a substance that helps the liver to neutralize toxins, such as excessive doses of acetaminophen, and its supplies are regulated by methionine.
Methionine and Autism
Research into autism is closely studying the Methionine/Glutathione Transsulfuration Pathway. This pathway is a very important biochemical means of detoxification, whereby toxins are methylated and then excreted. This pathway seems to be disrupted in autistic individuals.
Not only that, but disruption can lead to oxidative stress which results in many health problems. An example of this is the build-up of the oxidant homocysteine when there is insufficient Vitamin B6 to convert it into cysteine. This has been discussed previously, and is discussed again below.
Although research is in its infancy, it appears that AIDS sufferers also have decreased levels of methionine in their blood. It is believed that the process of AIDS could be linked to this, particularly the dementia that can occur as a result of the deterioration of the nervous system.
It is also hoped that it can help with some symptoms of Parkinson's disease, and pancreatitis. Initial research into this use of methionine has been very promising, as are studies into its use for urinary tract infections. It appears to operate like cranberry in this respect, preventing bacteria from attaching to the cell walls and multiplying in the urinary tract.
Methionine is believed to be essential for the formation of collagen, and for healthy pliable skin, hair, nails and other forms of connective tissue. For this reason it is often used as a supplement for the treatment of arthritis, although an excess should be avoided for reasons discussed above. S-Adenosylmethionine generates homocysteine during the biosynthesis of phosphatidylcholine, and this can cause cardiovascular problems.
So stick to the recommended doses when you use methionine as a supplement. Used properly, and according to instructions, it offers many health benefits, and can also be used to bulk up your muscle tissue and give increased energy when you need it most.
Dietary sources include fish, eggs, lentils, onions, garlic, meat, seeds, spinach and yoghurt. A good supplement would be from 800mg - 1000mg per day, and is best taken along with a B vitamin complex, or at least folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12, in order to prevent the increased generation of homocysteine.
Methionine also promotes the excretion of estrogen, so is a possible supplement for women on oral contraceptives that lower the production of this hormone. The elderly might also benefit from a supplement although, if taken for any specific condition, your health professional should be consulted first, as they should be for any supplement.
Nevertheless, methionine is a very useful supplement, and can be taken to prevent a large number of conditions. Research is continuing on its effect on AIDS patients, and Parkinson's, and it is hopeful that it will one day be recommended to help people suffering from these conditions.
Inositol And Choline
December 11, 2008 12:19 PM
Inositol is a member of the vitamin B complex family, being referred to as vitamin B8, but is not strictly a vitamin because it is biosynthesized in your body. Vitamins are essential substances that are not manufactured by your natural biochemistry, and must be taken in your diet. However, to all intents and purposes it works like a member of the vitamin B family.
The main function of myo-inositol (the commonest isomer of inositol) is in the health of cell membranes, particularly those that comprise the marrow, eyes, intestines and the brain. Without proper regulation of the cell membrane, the cell cannot function effectively. Some of its effects include healthy hair and controlling estrogen levels. It is also believed to help to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood.
A deficiency will result in hair loss, eczema, increased blood cholesterol levels and eye abnormalities. You might also suffer constipation, although this is not as serious a condition as those preceding. It is present at highest levels in the heart and brain, which indicates where it is mostly used, although it also helps the liver to break down fats and enables the nerves and muscles to operate as they should.
Those that are depressed are frequently found to have low inositol levels in their spinal fluid, so it is believed to play a part in that condition. It is known that the substance takes part in the function of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is known to play a part in depression, and initial signs are that its use in the treatment of depression could be effective. Neurotransmitters are responsible for passing messages across the gap (synapses) between nerve cells, their messages being decoded by the neuroreceptors. A healthy nervous system depends on healthy neurotransmitters.
For these reasons, inositol has also been tried on other conditions of the nervous system. These include bipolar disorder, bulimia, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and attention deficit disorder. So far, results have been inconclusive as to its effectiveness, but it is early days yet and field tests are continuing.
A test carried out in Beersheva, Israel, in 1997, found that treatment with inositol produced significant improvement in the depression of 28 patients after four weeks on the Hamilton Depression Scale1, and 21 patients tested with panic disorder (with and without agoraphobia) showed significant improvements in their condition, including agoraphobia. Results on 13 patients with obsessive compulsive disorder also showed significant improvement. These were all double-blind tests.
However, not all tests have been so conclusive, and a study on 42 people with sever depression who did not respond to conventional antidepressant, also failed to respond when inositol was added to their medication.2 Results are therefore not conclusive.
Four hundred people took part in a double-blind test that indicated a possible improvement in the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome when treated with inositol 3,4 and another that inositol treatment on patients taking lithium could help reduce the symptoms of psoriasis, a skin condition believed to be caused by a reaction of the immune system and nerves.5
The supplement has also been found to be just as effective as Luvox (fluvoxamine – similar to Prozac) after four weeks treatment. Although these results are good, they are inconclusive, and more data is need before any indisputable conclusions can be drawn. However, treatment with inositol might be worth considering if conventional treatment for these conditions has been unsuccessful.
The most common natural form of inositol is myo-inositol, an isomer of cyclohehexanehexol, a carbocyclic polyol that form the structural basis for secondary messengers in the cells of eukaryotes.
A secondary messenger system is one whereby a signaling molecule is released in response to a signal from a primary messenger such as a neuroreceptor, which then activates certain intracellular proteins known as effector proteins that exert a response from the cell. An example is cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate) that is a secondary messenger that activates protein kinases and allows them to phosphorylated proteins.
Eukaryotes are organisms that contain cells composed of complex components contained within a cellular membrane, and that also contain a nucleus. Examples are fungi, plants and all animals. Examples of non eukaryotes include the bacteria family.
It is frequently recommended that inositol is most effective when taken with an equal amount of choline, although this might be due to the fact that when inositol deficiency is detected, choline is also frequently deficient. Both are vitamin B family like, and both are Lipotropic, in that they aid the breakdown of fats in the body. It is not clear whether this is true or not, but taking both would certainly not harm you, and might be of great benefit.
Inositol is not essential, because it can be obtained from beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, cantaloupe, brewer’s yeast, liver and vegetables. Bacteria in the gut also act on the phytic acid (inositol hexaphosphate) contained in citrus fruits to form inositol.
However, be careful if you drink a lot of coffee. It destroys inositol, and if you are taking the supplement medicinally, steer clear of coffee during your period of treatment because it will lose its effect. Excessive coffee drinking can also result in a general depletion of inositol from your diet, and hence a deficiency. In such a case you are advised to take a supplement, preferably along with choline that might also be deficient.
Although there have been no adverse side effects reported, no specific longer term safety studies have been carried out on inositol. Because of the way it works, inositol should be avoided by people with liver or kidney disease, and also by expectant or nursing women. It should be avoided by young children until safety tests have been carried out, and it is believed that it can cause manic effects in those suffering bipolar disorder.
Other than for these specific cases, trials with many times the average daily intake of the substance, it currently appears safe to take inositol as a long-term supplement. However, as with all such supplements intended for specific disorders, you should seek the advice of your physician.
References: 1. Levine J: Ministry of Health Mental Health Center, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University of the Negev,Beersheva, Israel ur Neuropsychopharmacol, 1997 May, 7:2, 147-55
2. Nemets B, Mishory A, Levine J, et al. Inositol addition does not improve depression in SSRI treatment failures. J Neural Transm. 1999;106:795-798.
3. Gerli S, Mignosa M, Di Renzo GC. Effects of inositol on ovarian function and metabolic factors in women with PCOS: a randomized double blind placebo-controlled trial. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2003;7:151-9.
4. Gerli S, Papaleo E, Ferrari A, et al. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial: effects of myo-inositol on ovarian function and metabolic factors in women with PCOS. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2007;11:347-354.
5. Allan SJ, Kavanagh GM, Herd RM, et al. The effect of inositol supplements on the psoriasis of patients taking lithium: arandomized, placebo-controlled trial. Br J Dermatol. 2004;150:966-969.
Research on SAMe....
October 26, 2005 12:49 PM
Two groups of researchers have conducted analyses of trials that utilized SAM-e for mood enhancement. One meta-analysis was published in 1994. The researchers analyzed the efficacy of SAM-e in oral or injection forms based on published trials dated between 1973 and 1992. The authors concluded that there was a significant improvement of 17 to 38% seen in trials of SAM-e compared to placebo response. They state that the efficacy of SAM-e was superior to placebo and its administration caused few side effects.5 A second review was published in 2002. The authors analyzed studies in which SAM-e doses ranged from 200 to 1600 mg daily. They also found a significant effect of SAM-e in comparison to placebo, with an evident rapid onset of effect at enhancing mood.6
Promotes Joint Comfort and Mobility*
As a sulfur donor to connective tissue, SAM-e plays a major role in protecting the integrity of cartilage tissue. An in vitro trial assessed the actions of SAM-e in cultured human articular chondrocytes. At a concentration of 10 micrograms/ml, proteoglycan synthesis and sulfate residue incorporation in chondrocytes was shown to be 60% higher than control levels. Based on these results, it was shown that SAM-e has a positive influence on the growth and health of cartilaginous connective tissue.7
In a double-blind trial with 734 individuals with compromised joint health. SAM-e given orally at a dose of 1200 mg daily for 30 days was shown to significantly promote joint comfort compared to placebo, with a high level of tolerability and low incidence of side effects. The researchers concluded that SAM-e is a highly effective supplement for enhancing joint comfort.8
Another trial evaluated the response of individuals experiencing discomfort in the joints to a regimen of 1200 mg SAM-e for 1 week followed by 800 mg for the second week, and then 400 mg for weeks 3 through 8. This open trial of 20, 641 people showed a strong ability of SAM-e to enhance feelings of comfort within the joints. The treatment was rated as “very good” or “good” in 71% of the participants, with an additional 21% rating the treatment effect as “moderate”.9
In a long-term trial lasting 24 months, SAM-e was given to 108 participants with compromised joint function. Individuals were given 600 mg orally per day for the first two weeks followed by 400 mg daily for the remainder of the trial. Individuals experienced significant enhancements in joint comfort, with dramatic improvements noted after 2-4 weeks of treatment. Improvements continued to 6 months and beyond.10
In addition to the above studies, a review was conducted in 1987 to assess the results of SAM-e supplementation in clinical trials for enhancing joint mobility and function. Over 22,000 individuals had participated in the clinical trials that were the subject of this review. The author concluded from his analysis that SAM-e was shown to be highly efficacious, rivaling or surpassing the effectiveness of other treatments, and also possessing a high level of safety.11 Because of this, SAM-e may be the treatment of choice for enhancing joint function.
Supports Liver Health and Detoxification*
SAM-e supplementation can have profound benefits on liver function. These benefits center around its function as the major methyl donor in the liver, as well as its Lipotropic activity. SAM-e also enhances the production of the antioxidant glutathione.
A number of trials have been conducted showing the ability of SAM-e to support liver detoxification functions and enhance liver health in individuals susceptible to toxin-induced liver compromise. SAM-e has the ability to normalize liver function by increasing the activity of enzymes needed to upregulate liver detoxification. These effects are comprehensive and rapid. Dosages used in these studies range from 600 mg to 1600 mg daily for 2 months to two years.12,13,14 In these trials, significant benefits of SAM-e supplementation were seen over placebo.
SAM-e has an excellent safety profile and is considered well-suited for long term use based on multiple clinical trials. Individuals diagnosed with manic depression should avoid SAM-e supplementation, as it may aggravate the manic phase *This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
1. Agnoli A, Andreoli V, Casacchia M, Cerbo R. Effect of s-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAMe) upon depressive symptoms. J Psychiatr Res. 1976;13(1):43-54.
2. De Leo D. S-adenosylmethionine as an antidepressant. Curr Ther Research. 1987;41(6):865-70.
3. Kagan BL, Sultzer DL, Rosenlicht N,Gerner RH. Oral S-adenosylmethionine in depression: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Am J Psychiatry. 1990 May;147(5):591-5.
4.Salmaggi P,Bressa GM,Nicchia G,Coniglio M,La Greca P,Le Grazie C.Doubleblind, placebo-controlled study of S-adenosyl-L-methionine in depressed postmenopausal women. Psychother Psychosom. 1993;59(1):34-40.
5. Bressa GM. S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAMe) as antidepressant: metaanalysis of clinical studies. Acta Neurol Scand Suppl. 1994;154:7-14. 6.Mischoulon D, Fava M. Role of S-adenosyl-L-methionine in the treatment of depression: a review of the evidence. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Nov;76(5):1158S-61S.
7. Harmand MF, Vilamitjana J,Maloche E, Duphil R, Ducassou D. Effects of Sadenosylmethionine on human articular chondrocyte differentiation. An in vitro study. Am J Med. 1987 Nov 20;83(5A):48-54.
8. Caruso I, . Italian double-blind multicenter study comparing S-adenosylmethionine, naproxen, and placebo in the treatment of degenerative joint disease. Am J Med. 1987 Nov 20;83(5A):66-71.
9. Berger R, Nowak H. A new medical approach to the treatment of osteoarthritis. Report of an open phase IV study with ademetionine (Gumbaral). Am J Med. 1987 Nov 20;83(5A):84-8.
10. Konig B. A long-term (two years) clinical trial with S-adenosylmethionine for the treatment of osteoarthritis. Am J Med. 1987 Nov 20;83(5A):89-94.
11. di Padova C. S-adenosylmethionine in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Review of the clinical studies. Am J Med. 1987 Nov 20;83(5A):60-5.
12. Frezza M, et al. S-adenosylmethionine counteracts oral contraceptive hepatotoxicity in women. Am J Med Sci. 1987; 293(4):234-238.
13. Frezza M, Surrenti C, Manzillo G, Fiaccadori F, Bortolini M, Di Padova C. Oral S-adenosylmethionine in the symptomatic treatment of intrahepatic cholestasis. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Gastroenterology. 1990 Jul;99(1):211-5.
14. Mato JM, et al. S-adenosylmethionine in alcoholic liver cirrhosis: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, multicenter clinical trial. J Hepatol. 1999 Jun;30(6):1081-9.
Life Force - The Energy Activator
June 29, 2005 10:35 AM
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Protect Your Heart and Circulatory System
The amazing muscular organ that is your heart beats more than 100,000 times a day, 365 days a year, promoting vitality and alertness by constantly oxygenating our tissues. LIFE FORCE supports your cardiovascular system with antioxidant coenzyme Q10, which helps support heart muscle metabolism. LIFE FORCE also contains the minerals potassium and magnesium, electrolytes vital for healthy heartbeat and heart function, and the herb hawthorn, a rich source of antioxidant flavonoids, which has traditionally been used as a heart tonic. LIFE FORCE also supplies vitamins B-6, B-12 and folic acid to help maintain healthy homocysteine levels and vitamin K to support healthy circulation. Unlike common multiples, it supports cholesterol wellness, circulatory health and antioxidant cardiovascular protection, with both the typical d-alpha form of vitamin E but and the more potent and effective gamma-tocopherol and similarly structured tocotrienols.
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Brain and Nerves Nutrition
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Low carb lifestyles mean higher consumption of proteins and fats. Unfortunately, there are artery, heart, colon and many other health concerns associated with meals that are high in fat and protein and low in fiber and produce. However, the nutrients in LIFE FORCE can help you better process these foods when eating this way. LIFE FORCE contains high levels of protective fat-soluble antioxidants such as alpha lipoic acid, ascorbyl palmitate (vitamin C ester) and vitamin E to protect your body from the free radicals generated by consuming more fats. It also contains many nutrients for liver health, such as silymarin, CoQ10, NAcetyl Cysteine and turmeric to help support the fat metabolism your liver is responsible for. LIFE FORCE also contains a high level of the B vitamin biotin, which aids in fat, protein and energy metabolism.
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Move it and Lose it! Burn off body fat!
June 14, 2005 12:04 PM
Move it and Lose it! Burn off body fat! by Mimi Facher Energy Times, June 1, 1997
So you're feeling a little blah, a little overweight, and you're looking to drop a few of those winter pounds gained during the colder months. Maybe you've dabbled with diets and jogged around the neighborhood a few times but you're still packing unsightly bulges. If so, you may be considering the idea of turning to supplements to help you drop those pounds. Well, two types of diet supplements now generally available, combined with a diet and exercise program, may be able to help you trim those stubborn pounds.
The first type of supplement, called metabolic optimizers, which include ephedra, caffeine and salicin (derived from willow bark), boost your metabolic rate, causing your body to burn calories faster. The second class, Lipotropic substances, aid the body in fat mobilization, causing greater utilization of stored fat. These products include chromium, carnitine and hydroxycitric acid (HCA). Both classes of supplements have been around in various forms for quite a while but are now enjoying greater popularity among dieters.
Trying to cope with a weight problem is a dilemma expanding throughout modern society. According to a 1995 Harris poll, nearly 75% of Americans are overweight. Although it's well known that the way to lose weight is to expend more calories than you take in, supplements may be able to help you burn off extra calories.
Thermogenesis and You
Metabolic optimizers are supposed to aid weight loss through a process called thermogenesis. Thermogenesis is a natural process in which fat is burned to produce body heat. Fat that isn't burned is stored on the hips, thighs, stomach, etc. Thermogenic agents are designed to counteract your body's fat storage mechanisms by causing your body to maintain a higher metabolic rate-turning your internal thermostat up to burn fat faster. The thermogenic process can be jump-started by a number of factors including cold, exercise, certain dietary nutrients and metabolic optimizers.
The ephedra herb, also known as ma huang is one of nature's earliest medicines, known for over 5000 years to the Chinese, who used it to relieve allergies, coughing, wheezing and cold and flu symptoms. In the US, ephedra has been available since the 1800s.
The ingredients in ephedra include the alkaloids ephedrine, pseudoephedrine and norephedrine. Concentrated forms of these substances are used in today's over-the-counter cold, allergy and asthma relief formulas.
Ma huang's effectiveness as a weight loss aid is tied to its appetite suppressant and stimulant properties. By speeding up action of the thyroid gland, the ephedrine found in the herb acts a thermogenic agent, boosting the rate at which the body metabolizes fat and promoting weight loss. According to Mark Blumenthal, Executive Director of the American Botanical Council, "When used as part of a total package that includes diet modification and exercise, ma huang can be highly effective in the short run because it increases the speed of the body's metabolism and suppresses appetite."
Because of their strong stimulant effect, ephedra and its derivatives have engendered some controversy. However, in its long history, billions of doses of ephedra have been consumed without problem. But ephedra supplements should only be used as directed on product labels. People with cardiovascular problems, diabetes, thyroid or prostate dysfunction, high blood pressure and those taking MAO inhibitors, pregnant or nursing should avoid this herb.
Salicin Burns Fat
Salicin, a substance derived from willow bark-which is also the original source for aspirin, a related compound-can boost the burning of fat when combined with ephedra. An animal study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that while ephedra boosted calorie burning by almost 10%, when ephedra was combined with aspirin, extra calorie burning just about doubled. Another study in the Internatioanl Journal of Obesity showed that when overweight women took aspirin and ephedrine during a meal, their bodies burned off more calories than normal. (Eating a meal produces a thermogenic effect as your body expends energy in digestion. That's why dieters are told not to skip meals. Skipping meals lowers your metabolic rate, decreasing your calorie expenditure.)
Similar studies also show that caffeine, the stimulant that gives coffee its eye-opening kick, can also boost ephedra's thermogenic properties. But before using these combinations check with a health practitioner knowledgeable about nutrition. Aspirin or salicin may cause stomach upset in some people (although salicin is generally tolerated well.)
Carnitine: Lipotropic Amino Acid
To get carnitine into your system, you don't have to take it as a supplement. Your body already makes this vitamin-like substance. However, your body doesn't make that much. And it is said to be especially low in people with heart disease.
This non-essential amino acid (said to be non-essential because human bodies produce it) is a key ingredient in the formation of mitochondria membranes. Mitochondria are tiny structures in your cells that burn fats for energy. Consequently, sufficient carnitine is necessary for the movement of fat into the mitochondria where it is consumed. When not enough carnitine is present, the breakdown of long chain fatty acids slows down.
Said to improve the recovery rate for athletes (it may limit the production of lactic acid, a waste product in muscle tissue), carnitine can also lower cholesterol levels, boost levels of HDL (the good cholesterol) and decrease serum triglycerides (blood fats linked to heart disease). Not bad for a nutrient that coaxes fat into those teeny, ceullular, mitochondrial furnaces.
Go for the Chrome
Chromium-based supplements work as Lipotropic agents by aiding insulin use in the body. This essential trace mineral is required for normal protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism. According to Dr. Michael Janson, author of The Vitamin Revolution in Healthcare and President of the American Preventive Medical Association (APMA), "Chromium is important for proper insulin activity. Insulin moves sugar into the muscle cells, where it is burned off as energy. Chromium improves the activity of insulin, and since insulin causes fat deposition, less of it means less fat deposition." Chromium has also been shown to build muscle tissue and to reduce LDL cholesterol, which has been linked to heart disease.
Although the body's minimum requirement is low, the American diet tends to be deficient in chromium, in part because the mineral can be difficult for the body to absorb. The fact that, in nature, chromium is most powerfully concentrated in brewer's yeast, wheat germ and liver-items most Americans rarely eat-probably hasn't helped either. Other natural sources of chromium include whole grains, molasses and beef. But it is estimated that 50% of Americans are chromium deficient. An early study found that overweight adults taking a chromium supplement lost an average of 22% body fat, while maintaining or gaining lean body mass. In another study, athletes consuming 200 mcg. of chromium a day showed an average loss of 7.5 lbs. of body fat after six weeks, without a corresponding loss of muscle tisue. Overall, although some studies question chromium's precise effects, many experts are optimistic about this substance because of its relationship to insulin in the body's metabolism.
Hydroxycitric Acid (HCA)
Another possible addition to the dieter's arsenal is HCA. In nature, HCA appears chiefly in a fruit called garcinia cambogia (sometimes also called Malabar tamarind or brindall berry), a citrus plant found primarily in Asia, where the rind is often used as a flavoring agent. HCA works by inhibiting the enzyme in the body responsible for converting carbohydrates into fat. HCA causes calories to be burned in an energy cycle similar to thermogenesis and acts as somewhat of an appetite suppressant. HCA is also said to have a role in reducing triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels.
Several animal studies have shown that HCA caused significant weight loss without a reduction in lean body mass. In other words, the pounds that came off came out of fat stores, and not out of energy or muscle reserves. This means that HCA takes off not just weight but body fat, making it a potentially effective tool against weight regain.
Dr. Elson Haas, director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin in San Rafael, CA, and author of Staying Healthy With Nutrition: The Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine, believes that HCA can be a helpful aid for dieters when used in combination with eating habit changes and exercise. He recommends an HCA and chromium blend for optimum appetite suppression. "This combination can keep the appetite down and reduce sugar cravings," he says.
Although human research data on HCA is still in the preliminary stages, the animal study results are positive, and the supplement seems to have minimal side effects in most people.
Some Overall Recommendations
You are likely to lose weight faster if you eat sensibly. This means avoiding foods high in fat or sugar (which are the most likely to add to stored body fat), but it doesn't mean starving yourself. A sensible balanced diet, along with moderate exercise, is still the best prescription for weight loss. As Dr. Haas puts it, "I'm a firm believer in diet and exercise. Using supplements responsibly can help you to lose weight provided they're combined with dietary changes and exercise. They won't work if you don't change anything." No one is suggesting that dietary supplements are a miracle cure for being overweight-as always in self-health care, there are no magic wands. But, used as directed and combined with a good diet and exercise plan, you could find that these supplements might help you work your way to a slimmer you.
Mimi Facher is a freelance writer who has contributed to Prevention, Cosmopolitan and Self.
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