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Do Dietary Supplements Help You Lose Weight?

By Roger Thorne J.D. ; Updated July 18, 2017

There are any number of dietary supplements out there making outlandish promises of quick and easy weight loss. Be very cautious whenever you're considering a dietary supplement to aid you in weight loss. Many of these products make dubious claims and offer you little more than an easy way to lose money and waste your time.

Dietary Supplements

According to the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, dietary supplements consist of any product composed of certain ingredients that a manufacturer intends consumers to take orally. As long as the product falls under this category, it does not need FDA approval before a manufacturer can sell it. The FDA recommends that you consult with your health care provider before taking any supplement, especially one you're using to try to affect your bodily functions.

Vitamins and Weight Loss

Losing weight is an obsession for a lot of people, and with a strong demand there are any number of companies looking to take advantage of it. While some manufacturers claim that some vitamin supplements help you lose weight, it isn't always true. For example, MedLinePlus, a service of the National Institutes of Health, reports that while calcium and vitamin D supplements may help weight loss and weight maintenance in women, the vitamin's benefits do not appear to help those who were getting enough nutrients before taking the supplement. Calcium itself, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements, has not been shown to aid weight loss.

Weight Loss Claims

Supplement manufacturers have a duty to ensure that their products are safe and that any claims they make are supported by evidence. However, this doesn't mean that any supplement's claims are true. The Food and Drug Administration does not have to approve the claims the supplement makers make, and can only take action if it finds the claims are untrue or unfair. So, even if you find a vitamin supplement that makes a health loss claim, that doesn't mean the supplement actually works, or will work for you.


Because manufacturers do not need to get FDA approval before releasing a supplement into the marketplace, you should be very cautious whenever you choose a supplement. Though the FDA can recall a product it finds to be unsafe, it can only do this after the product has already been in the market. This means that even though a product is offered for sale, there is no guarantee that it is safe, and the product has not gone through any government safety testing or certification.

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