Hydroxycitric Acid: Natural Weight-Loss Supplement
Hydroxycitric acid is fast gaining a reputation as an effective weight-loss supplement. Results from clinical trials so far are mixed – some studies have found it to be an effective weight-loss aid while other have found its efficacy to be limited.
A derivative of citric acid, it is found in the rind of the garcinia, a yellow or green pumpkin-shaped fruit found in South and Southeast Asia. For hundreds or years the rind of the garcinia – also known as the gummi-gutta – has been used for flavouring and preserving food; its also a traditional remedy for mild digestive problems and rheumatism. Between 10 – 30% of the garcinia’s rind by volume is composed of hydroxycitric acid.
Clinical studies into its effectiveness as a weight-loss aid have only begun recently, but there are some encouraging early findings: hydroxycitric acid is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, and it’s possible that the acid acts to inhibit adenosine citrate-lyase, an enzyme which binds to carbohydrates to encourage their being stored as fat. Hydroxycitric acid may also have a function as an effective appetite suppressant, by increasing serotonin levels in the brain.
Unlike many other weight-loss supplements, hydroxycitric acid has no effect on metabolism or nervous system. Many users of caffeine- or green tea-based weight-loss supplements experience unwanted shakiness or racing heart rates, effects which are not present in hydroxycitric acid use.
Hydroxycitric acid may have a useful function for treating Type 2 diabetes as it promotes slower absorption of sugars into the blood stream. One clinical study using rats showed that blood sugar absorption was 200% slower when hydroxycitric acid was administered. Further study is needed to confirm its value in treating diabetes.
What types of hydroxycitric acid products are available?
The garcinia family contains three species of tree whose fruit is rich in hydroxycitric acid – Garcinia cambogia, Garcinia indica, and Garcinia atroviridis. All three are used to make commercially available hydroxycitric acid products. These supplements are typically in capsule form; capsules are used to ensure the active ingredient isn’t damaged or absorbed before it reaches the stomach lining. Products on the market typically deliver between 150 and 500mg of hydroxycitric acid per capsule.
How can I use hydroxycitric acid?
As a weight-loss supplement
Hydroxycitric acid is mainly marketed as a weight-loss aid. It’s believed that its inhibitory action on the citrate-lysase enzyme promotes weight loss by retarding lipogenesis, the process which transforms simple sugars (commonly known as carbohydrates) into fatty acids. These fatty acids are eventually stored as excess fat. A typical dosage programme would be one 150ml capsule, taken on an empty stomach, three times a day.
How can I use hydroxycitric acid most effectively?
Fibre may inhibit hydroxycitric acid absorption, so be aware of the amount of fibre in your diet and the effect it may have on any hydroxycitric acid products you are using. Some commercial products combine hydroxycitric acid with pyruvate and carnitine to further promote the its weight-loss function.
Is hydroxycitric acid safe?
So far, no studies have found any major side effects associated with consumption of hydroxycitric acid. As with all supplement usage, it’s important to adhere closely to packaged instructions. Exercise particular caution towards hydroxycitric acid products if you are suffering from liver or kidney conditions: in 2009, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalled a hydroxycitric acid supplement after 23 users reported liver problems. Some users of hydroxycitric acid have reported mild diarrhea and other adverse gastrointestinal effects, linked to its function as a laxative. Hydroxycitric acid is also not recommended for use by pregnant or breastfeeding women or children under the age of twelve.