Hydroxycitric acid, which comes from the Garcinia cambogia fruit, is often sold as a weight-loss supplement. The fruit itself is used as a condiment in Southeast Asian dishes, such as curries. In purified supplement form, hydroxycitric acid may cause some side effects, so check with your doctor before adding it to your daily regimen.
Potential for Mild Side Effects
As of October 2013, there hadn't been many studies on the side effects of hydroxycitric acid, according to the eMedTV website. The main side effects noted included headaches, nausea, stomach pain, dizziness and dry mouth. In most studies, side effects weren't any more common in the people taking HCA than in those taking a placebo, according to a review article published in the Journal of Obesity in 2011. However, the authors noted that in one study twice as many people in the HCA group experienced these mild side effects as in the control group.
Potential for Serious Side Effects
Although the small studies on the potential benefits of HCA haven't shown any serious side effects, there may be a risk for these. One popular supplement containing HCA was recalled in 2009 because of reports of a number of serious side effects, including seizures, heart problems, 23 reports of liver problems and one death in people taking the supplement. Drugs.com notes the potential for liver damage with HCA but states that a dosage of 233 times the recommended amount may be necessary for this to occur.
Diet Type Affects Effectiveness
The type of diet you follow can affect how well HCA works. For example, high-fiber diets can limit its absorption and make it less effective. The main benefit of HCA may be to offset some of the adverse effects of a diet high in sugar, explains the University of Michigan Health System website.
Other Potential Considerations
There is always a potential for allergic reactions with supplements. If you have difficulty breathing, itching, rash, hives or swelling of your mouth or throat, get medical attention right away as you may be having an allergic reaction. People who take insulin or oral medications for diabetes should use caution with HCA, as it may lower blood sugar levels. Anyone who has heart problems or high blood pressure should check with a doctor before taking HCA. Young children, pregnant women and people with kidney or liver disease should avoid taking HCA, according to NYU Langone Medical Center, as safe doses for these groups haven't been well-studied.
- University of Michigan Health System: Hydroxycitric Acid
- eMedTV: Side Effects of Hydroxycitric Acid
- Journal of Obesity: The Use of Garcinia Extract (Hydroxycitric Acid) as a Weight Loss Supplement: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Clinical Trials
- NYU Langone Medical Center: Hydroxycitric Acid
- Columbia Health: Weight Loss Products Containing Hydroxy Citric Acid — Safe?
- Drugs.com: Garcinia (Hydroxycitric Acid)
- Photo Credit Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images
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