Let’s face reality. As much as doctors and pharmacists will tell you there are risks in taking diet pills and the effects they could have on your health, people take them anyway. What I do believe in is the power of knowledge and educating yourself before taking any chances. Let’s take a look at three pretty popular diet aids and how they compare to each other: Acai, Hoodia, and Raspberry Ketones, the newest craze.
Raspberry Ketones were recently discussed on the Dr. Oz show and hours later pharmacies were getting calls from patients. “Where can I get it, is it safe?” Well I can tell you that not many pharmacies or stores carry this product yet. It’s believed that raspberry ketones help burn fat by increasing the release of norepinephrine in your body. This causes the body’s temperature to rise and in doing this increases the body’s metabolism. Increased norepinephrine could causes an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. Currently most of the raspberry ketone studies conducted were done in mice and we don’t have much to go on for how this will affect humans.
Hoodia is derived from a plant located in Southern Africa called hoodia gordonii. Commercially you can buy it in capsules, tablets, chocolate chews, and a variety of other forms. There are numerous websites selling hoodia, but because the products are not regulated by the FDA it’s possible you won’t be getting any of what you paid for.
There are few studies to support the effectiveness of hoodia. Pfizer was looking to enter the diet pill market and developed a molecule called P57, which was very similar to hoodia, but in 2003 decided to discontinue their research and give the rights to the other company they were working with, called Phytopharm.
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Is Dr. Oz more showman than doctor? His theatrical endorsement of dubious weight loss products points to the former. On his show this week, in a 75-second segment, he introduced a ‘revolutionary metabolism booster that you’ve never heard of’: raspberry ketones. While displaying a generic purple jar of capsules, Dr. Oz said, “I have vetted these; I’ve looked at them carefully; I am absolutely enamored. I know they work.” His segment assistant Lisa Lynn, a supplement-selling personal trainer, was by his side, along with a morbidly obese woman who had “tried everything.” Was Dr. Oz laying it on thick for a questionable product? No, not when you consider Dr. Oz is on TV.
Raspberry ketones are compounds that give red raspberries their aroma. In the US, they are used primarily in the food flavor industry. In Japan, however, raspberry ketone capsules are used as a weight loss supplement. Raspberry ketones are not to be confused with blood ketones produced in diabetes and on very low carbohydrate diets.
The hypothesis is that raspberries ketones affect biological activities that alter lipid metabolism. That fat-blasting claim rests on two small mice studies that show when mice are fed a high-fat diet supplemented with raspberry ketones they gain less body fat than expected. But be clear: raspberry ketones have not been studied in humans and they have not been proven to work. To be fair, Dr. Oz said, “There have not been a lot of human studies, but animal studies are favorable.” Somehow, for me, that got lost in the hype.
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Dr. Oz featured the weight loss supplement raspberry ketone on yesterday’s show, touting it as a “miracle fat burner.” We’re always leery of any diet pill that promises “miracles,” but we’re also willing to find out if it does what it claims.
Weight loss expert Lisa Lynn was a guest on yesterday’s show, and explained that the supplement comes from red raspberries so it has “no side-effects.” She recommends taking 100 to 200 milligrams at breakfast or lunch. Dr. Oz demonstrated the effects of the ketone by showing balloons representing fat cells shrinking in tub of liquid nitrogen. The balloons shrink in the liquid but expand again when they’re taken out.
Dr. Sarah G. Khan, our resident pharmacist, gives a more in-depth explanation of how the supplement affects the body:
“Raspberry ketones appear to increase the body’s release of norepinephrine and this causes a rise in the body’s temperature which helps burns fat and increase metabolism. Raspberry ketones also increase levels of adiponectin, which is a hormone that helps with lowering glucose levels. The less circulating glucose, the less likely it will be converted into a stored energy source like glycogen. Adiponectin is found least frequently in obese people and may have a possible role to play in insulin resistance and diabetes.”
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