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 Weight Control 

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Popular Diet Plans

Fat Blockers

Chitosan is a dietary fiber-like substance made from chitin, which forms the hard shells of lobsters, crabs, and other shellfish. Proponents of chitosan say that it binds to fat and substances that are soluble in fat. They believe that humans don't have the enzymes to break down chitosan. That allows it to pass through the intestinal tract, taking some fat along with it. By blocking the fat absorption in your body, chitosan is promoted as helping you to lose weight.

In a small, unpublished, study in Sweden, researchers gave 12 men and women of normal weight half a cup of cream along with 1,000 mg of chitosan. In eight of the people, the chitosan bound 8 to 14 percent of the cream's fat, preventing about 50 calories from being absorbed. Chitosan had no effect in the other four people.

Three studies in Europe looked at whether chitosan alone helps people lose weight. Only one found that it did. Ten overweight Italian men and women lost an average of nine pounds after taking 2,000 mg of chitosan and eating 1,200 calories a day for four weeks. Ten similar men and women who ate the same diet but got a placebo instead of chitosan shed six pounds.

While chitosan may prevent fat from being absorbed, it can do the same to fat-soluble nutrients like vitamin D, vitamin E, and carotenoids. That coul;d pose a serious health hazard. For example, blood levels of vitamin E dropped quickly and sharply in laboratory rats fed the equivalent of ten to 20 times the human dosage of chitosan for two weeks. And their bones lost calcium and other minerals. Many disease-fighting phytochemicals in plant foods, some drugs, including estrogen and contraceptives are fat-soluble. It makes them vulnerable to chitosan.

So, if you take chitosan,  take your multivitamins and certain drugs at different times of the day than when you take your chitosan. Also, don't take chitosan indefinitely. Take it for just 1 or 2 three-month periods, with a break in between.

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