The Dangers of Hydroxycitric Acid

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Hydroxycitric acid is used in over-the-counter diet supplements.

Hydroxycitric is a form of naturally occurring citric acid derived from the Garcinia cambogia plant. This fruit is a traditional herbal remedy and an ingredient in Southeast Asian cooking as a flavoring agent and a preservative. More recently, the hydroxycitric acid derived from the Garcinia plant has been used in Western supplements to inhibit fat absorption and suppress appetite.

  1. Immediate Side Effects

    • Clinical studies of hydroxycitric acid weight loss supplements indicate there are minimal immediate side effects to taking 1500 mg of hydroxycitric acid per day when compared to subjects administered a placebo. However, hydroxycitric acid supplements may cause gastrointestinal discomfort, headaches and upper respiratory tract problems, such as coughing or wheezing.

    Acute Skin Exposure

    • Studies on laboratory animals indicate that long-term direct exposure to high levels of hydroxycitric acid to the skin may cause irritation and yellowing of the affected area. However, these studies were conducted with concentrations of hydroxycitric acid many times greater than found in food supplements, and the studies indicate the chemical would not likely cause skin irritation for healthy people.

    Eye Exposure

    • Although there is no evidence that ingesting hydroxycitric acid causes eye irritation, it can cause inflammation and a burning sensation if put directly into the eye. Laboratory studies indicate that when the eye is exposed to hydroxycitric acid it can cause inflammation and reddening for several weeks if left untreated. However, there was no indication that it caused any permanent damage to the eye.

    Effect on Blood Sugar

    • Because hydroxycitric acid affects digestion, as well as the body's absorption of fat and sugar, it may impact blood sugar levels. People with diabetes should consult their physician prior to taking any supplements containing hydroxycitric acid and also may need to monitor their blood sugar levels more often.

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