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Weight Loss Supplement Risks

Some people who are seeking to quickly drop pounds will turn to weight loss pills or over the counter weight loss supplements to get the ball rolling. Taking healthy dietary supplements is considered to be a simple, sensible lifestyle change that is easy and cost-effective, however, the key word is HEALTHY. There are a variety of factors to keep in mind regarding weight loss supplements, as many of them can actually be harmful to one’s health and should be avoided.

Those who use weight loss supplements can marginally benefit from supplements when used properly along with a balanced diet and regular exercise. However, it is difficult to tell just how much someone is profiting from them in comparison to what kind of bodily harm occurs in the long run. It is also challenging to measure quantitative results that are directly contributed to weight loss solely from the supplements themselves. We ask the question, is it the supplements that are working, or is it positive lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise that prove to be the solution? The correct answer for healthy weight loss is positive lifestyle changes, diet and exercise. 

Because there is often little research done before weight loss supplements hit the shelves, the best way for companies to measure results is by responding to direct consumer feedback. There is a more significant potential for adverse side effects when direct consumer reaction determines the efficacy of a supplement. When companies introduce a new supplement, no one will know about the potential harm it might do – until it is too late.

While some of these supplements are prescription-level, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have little to no regulation over the dietary supplement industry. It is easy for these stimulants to become over the counter supplements. Weight loss supplements do not even have to be approved by these administrations before the public can purchase them. Therefore, some of these pills may come with unintended consequences which can go unforeseen until someone experiences them first hand.

Adverse Side Effects of Weight Loss Supplements or Diet Pills

Although weight loss supplements have varying degrees of potency, they all tend to serve the same purpose. Appetite suppression, fat blocking, and energy stimulation are what these pills aim to achieve. However, these intentions often come with harmful side effects that can lead to long term health issues.

  • Heart problems. Many weight loss supplements contain concentrated amounts of caffeine, amphetamine, or other stimulants. People see these types of supplements as metabolism boosters and appetite suppressants. While it is not unusual for these stimulants to cause an increase in heart rate, the results can also lead to high blood pressure. Side effects such as these can result in life-threatening conditions such as seizures, stroke, rapid breathing, and heart attack.
  • Digestive problems. Weight loss supplements sometimes work by reducing or blocking fat absorption to help shed bodyweight. Typically, the result is gastrointestinal discomfort that can range in severity. Common side effects include diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, leakage, and excessive flatulence. While these side effects may not necessarily be fatal, they can cause dangerous levels of dehydration and awkward social situations.
  • Liver problems. When taking any weight loss supplement, the kidneys and liver are doing most of the work to ensure that the vitamins, minerals, and other contents of the capsule efficiently nourish the body. The liver is the powerhouse organ that directs where these nutrients will be most effective and also plays a crucial role in regulating metabolism. These pills can cause the liver to become overworked and backed up. When this happens, it can no longer produce the required bile for proper digestion and can lead to permanent liver damage. Signs of liver damage include jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin), abdominal pain, itchy skin, pale or tar colored stool, darker urine, frequent bruising, and vomiting. Stop taking any supplements and see a doctor immediately after noticing these symptoms.    
  • Addiction. Addiction to weight loss pills commonly stems from the amounts of amphetamine in them. The FDA classifies amphetamine as a stimulant and, in weight loss pills, it serves as an appetite suppressant. It is also one of the primary ingredients in drugs such as speed, meth, and Adderall. Weight loss supplements containing amphetamines can cause dependency, especially if the user feels that the pills are working. Furthermore, long term use of these supplements will increase tolerance. The user will have to consume more of them as time goes by to achieve the same effect.

Some may think the benefits associated with weight loss supplements far outweigh their adverse side effects. However, there is not enough definitive research to back that claim. One thing is for sure, the best way to maintain ideal body weight is through a well-balanced diet rich in naturally-occurring nutrients combined with a regular amount of exercise.

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