As a doctor, I’m skeptical about any dietary supplement that people might believe is a miracle cure, especially for losing weight. However, there are a few supplements that can work with diet and exercise to help with weight control, however. Here are three that may give you some extra help. They are backed by medical-journal research behind them, not marketing hype.
Vitamin D has been the subject of a host of studies showing that it may help you lose weight while you’re dieting. One study found that an adequate supply vitamin D levels in the body at the start of a weight-loss diet weight can help people lose weight more successfully. A more recent study found that supplementing with vitamin D (300 IUs a day) took inches off the waists of supplementers, but not in those who didn’t take the supplement. The volunteers who lost belly fat were also taking about 1,000 milligrams of calcium, so the combination of the two nutrients may do the trick for trimming your waistline.
How to take vitamin D: 800 to 1,000 IUs daily
This supplement does practically everything for you but your laundry. Among other things, it helps you control body fat. This was first discovered in overweight rats. After we had a lot of thin, flat-bellied rats running around, scientists began to test fish oil in humans.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2007 revealed that fish oil supplementation actually shrunk fat cells in overweight women. (We lose weight when fat cells shrink; fat cells never go away, they just get smaller when we diet and exercise.) These findings suggested strongly that supplementing with fish oil is a good idea for dieters.
How to take fish oil: 3 grams a day for good health and possible weight-control benefits.
Clinical research on CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) began well over 15 years ago, and looked at whether it could burn fat and help develop muscle. Its first guinea pigs were not guinea pigs at all but–you guessed it–rats. Taking CLA did work really well, but of course you had to be a rat.
Let’s fast forward a bit. In one weight-loss study, scientists discovered that when 134 healthy overweight adults took CLA for two years, it encouraged fat loss and possibly helped these folks keep their weight off. This research was published in the April 2005 Journal of Nutrition. There have been more studies like this one, so CLA does seem to have some benefit. But like any pill or supplement out there, you must take it in conjunction with a weight-loss diet and an exercise program.
How to take CLA: 1 gram with breakfast, another with lunch, and another with dinner for a total of 3 grams a day.
Now before you dash off to the health food store to buy these supplements, talk to your doctor first. We doctors like to know what our patients are taking. Heck, we might learn a thing or two.