Saturday, May 31, 2014
Weight loss and raspberry ketone supplements

By Daniel Reynen Citizen Columnist

Every time I look into a new supplement, I get the same rush of feelings. Excitement when I read about something that may help people live longer. Concern as I see that supplement promoted by quick-buck scammers before reliable data is available. Then disappointment when I learn the supplement failed to live up to the hype or expectations.

Those are exactly the range of emotions I felt when I started looking into a supplement called raspberry ketone. Raspberry ketone is the phenolic compound that gives red raspberries their distinctive smell. Up until around 2012, it was used almost exclusively by food and perfume companies to make things taste and smell better. Now, it's marketed as a miracle weight-loss drug and sold in supplement form.

The excitement started back in May 2005. That's when Chie Morimoto published a study in "Life Sciences" showing that mice, who were put on a high-fat diet, gained much less weight if they were also given raspberry ketone. The study concluded with the statement, "Raspberry Ketone prevents and improves obesity and fatty liver."

Not much happened for several years, until Dr. Mehmet Oz started talking about it. On April 19, 2012, Dr. Oz posted on his website, "Raspberry Ketone: What Science Says." In that post he said, "[Scientists] concluded that raspberry ketone prevents and improves obesity and fatty liver in certain animal models." He went on to say, "more detailed studies are called for to determine a mechanism for raspberry ketone."

But did Dr. Oz wait for further studies? Nope. He started promoting raspberry ketone as "the number one miracle in a bottle to burn your fat." Those are his exact words in a video promoting this "miracle" weight-loss supplement. In that video, he brings "expert" Lisa Lynn on to talk about it. She claims raspberry ketone will "slice it [fat] up inside the cells, so it burns fat easier."

That's when Dr. Oz pulls out the props and demonstrates how raspberry ketone "excites the fat cells into giving up their fat." He does this by dropping a couple red balloons into a tub of liquid nitrogen and watching them shrink. He explains that raspberry ketone "helps your body think it's thin, ... so your body metabolically will start going in the direction which it should be."

It sounds wonderful. Too bad Dr. Oz and the promoters of raspberry ketone ignored several important facts.

First, the mice in that 2005 study were given dosages of raspberry ketone that was 4,761 times greater than estimated human intake. Raspberry ketone supplements generally provide 100 to 200 mgs daily. If you were to match the levels given in the mouse experiment, you would have to take thousands of mgs daily -- far higher than has ever been tested for safety in humans.

Second, the 2005 study only showed that mice failed to increase their weight as much while on raspberry ketone and a high-fat diet. They didn't study to see if mice would lose weight just from taking raspberry ketone alone.

Third, the study was only conducted on mice. Since 2005 there have been exactly zero studies on humans testing raspberry ketone against a placebo in a double blind trial. If you're a mouse, a rat or cells in a petri dish, there's evidence that taking massive amounts of raspberry ketone will allow you to eat fat without gaining much weight. But for humans? No proof at all.

Dr. Oz then says, "I think this is worth experimenting with." How nice of him. He wants me to buy a product and experiment on myself with an unproven supplement. Why don't the companies that make it want to conduct any clinical trials? Why should I spend money to be a guinea pig?

Because supplement companies realize it doesn't work and they don't want to do anything to hurt sales. The money they make is more important than your health.

Do not buy raspberry ketone supplements; you're throwing your money away.

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