Weight Loss Pills

Choosing the "Best" Weight Loss Pill for You

If you decide to take non-prescription pills for losing weight, it is important that you make informed and thoughtful decisions. "Trial and error" is simply too dangerous when it comes to your health. Do your research carefully, realizing that information from the manufacturers of such products (or individual success stories or recommendations) should be considered of little value. Seek independent assessments of the product or read the active ingredients. If you do not feel equipped to adequately research a product, do not hesitate to ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist. However, do not be surprised if your healthcare provider recommends against the product without any consideration or research.
It is also important to make sure that the manufacturer of your weight loss pill is trusted and reputable. It is a good sign if a manufacturer abides by the rules of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). It is also a good sign if a product has the United States Pharmacopoeia (USP) seal, which means that the product has been independently tested and shown to contain the correct ingredients in the amounts listed on the label. Your pharmacist is a good resource for information about which manufacturers are most reputable.

Safe and Effective Weight Loss Pills

Alli™ (orlistat) has been recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is a non-prescription medication that has been shown to be safe and effective for weight loss. It is not an herbal product; it is actually a version of the prescription medication Xenical®. It is the only FDA-approved, non-prescription weight loss product. Therefore, it has the most evidence in its favor.
Other pills that may be safe and effective for weight loss (although their evidence is not strong) include:
  • Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA): There is some evidence that conjugated linoleic acid may help increase muscle mass and decrease body fat, although it does not seem to reduce weight overall. However, this product may not be safe for people with diabetes or those at risk for the condition.
  • Calcium with vitamin D: Studies have shown that people with a low intake of calcium have a higher risk for being overweight or obese. However, there is conflicting evidence concerning whether calcium and vitamin D supplementation, instead of increased dietary intake, also provide these benefits. Calcium and vitamin D at recommended dosages appear to be safe for most people.
  • Diacylglycerol (DAG or diglyceride): While not technically a weight loss pill, this dietary supplement appears to be safe for most people and may be effective when used in place of fat in foods.
  • Fish oil: There is some evidence that fish oil may help with weight loss. However, you should check with your healthcare provider before taking fish oil supplement if you take an anticoagulant medication (a "blood thinner") or if you have cirrhosis of the liver, diabetes, an implanted heart defibrillator, or a seafood allergy.
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