Daily Dose of Chitosan: 4mg
Chitosan is a supplement that can help block dietary fat. It is derived from a type of sugar called “chitin,” which develops on the hard outer skeleton of shellfish such as shrimp, crab, and lobster. Chitosan is then obtained by taking the shells of these shellfish and crushing them until a fine powder is obtained. Although chitin is a sugar, it is very similar to cellulose and acts as a fiber. It works by moving through the digestive system without being absorbed. When it travels through the intestines it binds itself with fat, preventing it form being absorbed, and then taking it along when it leaves the body. This fiber like quality has shown to naturally benefit bowel movements and prevent irritable bowel syndrome, as well as relieve constipation. It is also being used as an antacid in Japan because of its ability to neutralize excess acid.
Because of its fat absorbing qualities, chitosan has been researched for its potential in lowering cholesterol. A study with participants who have type 2 diabetes and abnormal amounts of blood lipid levels found benefits in taking chitosan. The participants who had chitosan in their diet experienced lower levels of bad LDL cholesterol and an increase in good HDL cholesterol compared to those who took a placebo. Scientific research has recommended taking 1.35g of chitosan three times a day to reduce high cholesterol. The bad news about chitosan is that since it absorbs fat, it may also prevent the body from absorbing fat soluble vitamins like vitamin A, D, E and K. In addition, some medication such as birth control pills which are also fat soluble may also be prevented from being absorbed. Because it is derived from shellfish, people who are allergic to shellfish should not take the supplement. Always consult a physician before taking any supplements.
- Li SL1, Lin J2, Chen XM3. Effect of chitosan molecular weight on the functional properties of chitosan-maltose Maillard reaction products and their application to fresh-cut Typha latifolia L. Carbohydr Polym. 2014 Feb 15;102:682-90. PMID: 24507336.
- Walsh AM1, Sweeney T, Bahar B, O’Doherty JV. Multi-functional roles of chitosan as a potential protective agent against obesity. PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e53828. PMID: 23342013.