Last updated: 06/08/2020

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If you are on a diet, it is very likely that you have thought about eating and not gaining weight. Every time we consume larger portions of food, it makes weight control almost impossible. Wouldn’t it be great to reduce the amount of calories we absorb at each meal?

Chitosan is a supplement capable of reducing the absorption of fats from our diet. Although it will not allow you to eat as much as you want without gaining weight, its “fat-catching” effect could be useful for losing a few extra pounds. If you are  not convinced, be sure to take a look at our latest Supplement Guide below.

Key Facts

  • Chitosan is a compound obtained from shellfish. It is capable of binding to dietary fat, preventing its absorption.
  • Vegans and allergy sufferers will be able to find vegetable based chitosan. It comes from a fungus and has actions similar to those of the marine chitosan.
  • When choosing a chitosan supplement, we must take into account its origin (animal or vegetable), its allergenic potential, its content in additional ingredients, its expiration and its value for money.

Our Selection: The Best Chitosan Supplement on the U.S. Market

In the following section you will find chitosan supplements that we have chosen for their quality and effectiveness. We have taken into account important aspects as the purity of the product or the presence of allergens. We have also considered previous consumer opinions. If you choose any of the following items, you will not regret it!

The Best Chitosan Powder Supplement

If you are someone who prefers taking their supplements in a powder form, then this product from BulkSupplements is a great option for you. This product is sourced from shellfish, so do not take it if you are sensitive or allergic to shellfish.

This Chitosan powder may benefit overall heart health by lowering “bad” (LDL) cholesterol levels and raising “good” (HDL) cholesterol levels, as well as lowering blood pressure. It is great for adding to smoothies or teas!

Best Chitosan Supplement with Chromium

Chromium, a mineral essential for normal glucose metabolism, is included in this supplement. Chromium supplements are often used as a weight-loss aid and to control blood sugar. Chromium works by aiding the action of insulin in the body. Insulin is essential for metabolism and storage of carbs, fats, and proteins in the body.

This product is also soy free, non-GMO, nut free, made without gluten, dairy free, egg free, and halal!

The Best GMP Rated Chitosan Supplement

These tablets by Best Naturals are great for supporting weight management. They come in 500 mg per tablet, and 120 tablets per bottle.

All Best Naturals products are manufactured in accordance with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), among the highest standards in the world.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Chitosan Supplements

Chitosan is a compound obtained from chitin, the main component of the shell of crabs, shellfish and prawns. This product binds to dietary fat and prevents its absorption, reducing caloric intake and stimulating the degradation of stored fat. Vegans and shellfish allergies have a vegetable alternative at their disposal.

girl cooking

Chitosan supplements should be combined with a healthy diet.
(Source: Choreograph: 123151113/ 123rf.com)

What is chitosan and how does it work?

Chitosan is a polysaccharide (that is, a molecule made up of chained sugars, such as starch) that is part of the shell of shellfish. The cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries have already taken advantage of this compound, commonly considered a waste of shrimp and crabs. Its numerous properties are summarized in the following table (1):

Scientific Field Properties
Biomedicine Healing of wounds

Bone synthesis

Healing

Structural function

Antimicrobial

Immune system enhancer

Pharmacy Coating (pills and capsules)

Active ingredient stabilizer

Microparticle former

Chemistry Substitute for other compounds

Molecule former

Dietetics Weight management

Fat uptake

Antioxidant

This approach has catapulted the popularity of chitosan, making it one of the most popular “weight loss” supplements. Although some people have been able to improve their figure thanks to this supplement, there are experts who are skeptic.

Is this molecule “too good to be true”?

In the fields of dietetics and nutrition, chitosan supplements are used for weight control. This compound has demonstrated an ability to attract and bind to fat particles in food, preventing its intestinal absorption. In this way, lipid removal would be increased, decreasing body weight (2).

Can a chitosan supplement help me lose weight?

Chitosan is an easy compound to obtain and considered “generally safe” by nutrition experts. For this reason, it is possible to find supplements based on this molecule in specialized stores, online, in pharmacies and in herbalists stores. Recently, you can also find this product in well-known supermarket chains.

However, the actual effectiveness of chitosan on weight loss is a topic that has given rise to numerous discussions in the medical community. Plenty of studies have been carried out on this compound, finding contradictory results. The Cochrane Guide has combined the available data, creating a meta-analysis. We summarize it in the following table (2):

Description
Date of meta-analysis 2008
Studies analyzed 15
People studied 1219
Effect on weight (vs. placebo) Reduction of 3.7 lb
Effect on cholesterol (compared to placebo) Reduction of 0.2 nanomoles/liter
Effect on blood pressure (versus placebo) Diastolic and systolic pressure reduction
Fat excretion (vs. placebo) No change
Side effects (vs. placebo) Not detected

It can be seen that chitosan could improve (modestly) weight loss in the people studied. Furthermore, this reduction in body mass is accompanied by better control of cholesterol and blood pressure. Control of these two parameters will be crucial in improving your health, reducing the appearance of cardiovascular disease.

However, this Cochrane meta-analysis has as many highlights as it does downsides. Experts admit that this large-scale study has several weaknesses, requiring further analysis of this supplement in the future. The following list summarizes the scientists’ main objections to experimenting with chitosan:

  • The duration of the studies: The analyzed studies have a duration of between four and six weeks. This time, according to the experts, does not allow to fully appreciate the effects of chitosan.
  • Study population: The people used for these studies had different habits, diets, activity levels, and health levels. Despite the fact that these characteristics influence weight loss, they were not considered by most researchers.
  • Conflicts of Interest: The studies produced by the manufacturers of chitosan supplements could be slightly modified, giving better results to their products.
  • The general conclusions: The most reliable way to lose weight is by adopting healthy habits. Although a chitosan supplement can accelerate the loss of body mass, its effect will only be significant if it is combined with diet and exercise. Experts fear that its indiscriminate use will lead people to forget this scientific evidence.
shrimp

Chitosan comes from the shell of crabs, shellfish and prawns.
(Source: Shherbak: 87834596/ 123rf.com)

What is vegetable chitosan?

Although there are potentially allergen-free chitosan supplements, some people prefer to avoid this derivative of shellfish shells. Also, if you are vegan or vegetarian, the idea of consuming an animal product is probably unacceptable to you. If this is you, don’t worry.

There is an alternative for you.

The “vegetable chitosan” is a compound that is obtained from a fungus (generally Aspergillus niger) (3). Its manufacturers assure that this supplement has a “fat-picking” activity similar to marine chitosan. In addition, it would be less allergenic and would provide a small amount of fiber.

The truth is that we have very little information on supplements based on Aspergillus niger. Although considered a safe compound and an alternative to animal chitosan, people with a weakened immune system should be especially cautious. Choose a product with processed and inactivated fungi to avoid possible infections (4).

Who can benefit from a chitosan supplement?

You may be wondering if chitosan is the right weight management supplement for you. In the following list you can find a series of characteristics that could determine the success or failure while using this article. If you see yourself reflected in one or more of the following sections, it is possible that you could benefit from a chitosan supplement (2):

  • You are a young person and in good previous health
  • You are moderately overweight, which does not require medical intervention.
  • You can’t (or don’t want to) use fat burning supplements.
  • You plan to combine the use of chitosan with diet and an exercise program
  • Your diet is normal or low calorie

Unfortunately, weight loss is one of the most complex and difficult processes to control in the health field. For this reason, it must be accompanied by a series of healthy habits (diet, exercise, adequate rest and abstaining from drugs). This will be the only way to achieve your fat loss goals.

How do you use chitosan supplements?

Chitosan supplements are generally distributed in capsule form, with the powder or liquid preparation being much rarer. These usually contain clear instructions that will allow you to make proper use of the supplement. In case you still have doubts, we have prepared a list that clarifies the main doubts about these supplements (2, 5, 6):

  • Dosage: The dose of chitosan usually ranges from 600 to 2500 milligrams a day, generally divided into several doses. The most common regimen is 250 mg, four times a day.
  • Time of day: The main manufacturers of chitosan advise taking their product before meals. In the studies analyzed, no special emphasis is made at the time of supplementation. Reference is made to the fat-picking effect of this molecule, which takes place during digestion.
  • Diet: In official studies conducted with chitosan supplements, individuals eat healthy, normal, or low-calorie diets.

On many occasions, chitosan supplements are marketed as items that will allow you to eat “anything you want.” However, remember that this supplement is capable of capturing 30% of the dietary fat. Although it can minimize the effect of a “binge”, it cannot prevent us from gaining weight if your habits are not healthy.

hamburger

Use chitosan supplements in the context of a healthy diet. Do not use them as “fat deposits” to consume “junk” or hypercaloric food without repercussions.
(Source: Grogoryeva: 39074617/ 123rf.com)

Are chitosan supplements safe?

Chitosan is considered a “generally safe” supplement by most experts. As such, it is suitable to be marketed for use as a food supplement. Its side effects are bothersome, but are not considered dangerous. These effects appear more frequently during supplementation with high doses of chitosan (more than 2500 mg / day) (6):

  • Gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Flatulence

This preparation has been used successfully in people with chronic diseases (such as kidney failure), although we recommend that chronic patients consult their doctor before starting any new treatment. This advice also extends to pregnant women and minors.

The main problem that can appear during the consumption of chitosan supplements in healthy people are the drug and nutritional interactions. This supplement could interfere with the actions of warfarin, an anticoagulant drug. Furthermore, the abuse of chitosan could hinder the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) (6).

girl eating a salad

Vegetable chitosan is an alternative for vegans and those allergic to seafood.
(Source: Puhhha: 48201519/ 123rf.com)

Buyer’s Guide

When an item is primarily of animal origin, such as chitosan, finding a good quality supplement is essential. The composition of this supplement (and that of its vegetable alternative) must be carefully examined in order to purchase a safe and effective product. In this section, we go over what to look for when choosing a chitosan supplement.

Vegan or Vegetarian Diet

If you are vegan, choose a product based on Aspergillus niger or another fungus suitable for human consumption. Do not be confused by certain supplements that offer “vegetable chitosan” that actually have chitosan of marine origin wrapped in a cellulose capsule. Those items are obviously not suitable for vegans or vegetarians.

fongus

Its vegetable option is obtained from the Aspergillus niger fungus.
(Source: Kon: 63375939/ 123rf.com)

Allergies

Most shellfish allergies are due to an intolerance to the meat (and not the shell) of these animals (8). For this reason, some manufacturers of marine chitosan claim that their product can be consumed even by those allergic to shellfish. However, if you are not sure of the extent of your allergy, choose an item based on vegetable chitosan.

Remember that chitosan supplements may also contain coating substances or other ingredients that act as allergens. If you are allergic to soy, lactose, gluten or nuts, among others, demand a product that is properly labeled and that proves to be allergen-free.

Ingredient Combinations

It is not uncommon to find supplements that combine chitosan with other fat-burning and “fat-picking” supplements. It is also very common for this item to be combined with vitamins and minerals that contribute to the normal metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. The following combinations are the most popular:

  • Chitosan and Garcinia cambogia
  • Chitosan and green tea extract
  • Chitosan and chromium
  • Chitosan and artichoke extract
  • Chitosan and glucomannan
  • Chitosan and vitamin C

From this guide, we advise against the indiscriminate use of weight loss combinations. Its side effects can be unpredictable and dangerous, as they have not been studied in sufficient depth. The combination between chitosan and Garcinia cambogia has been studied, probably being safe for supplementation in healthy people (9).

Jaime Lizardi-MendozaExpert in Nonvitamin and Nonmineral Nutritional Supplements

“Therapeutic applications have been proposed for chitosan because of its properties such as antioxidant activity, cholesterol, and triglyceride trapping, and antibacterial and hypoglycemic effects for the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases”.

Conservation and Expiration

Chitosan seems to be a very resistant compound to weather. Even so, it is recommended to keep it in a cool and dry place, away from aggressive temperatures and odors. This molecule will lose its ability to bind fats progressively after its expiration date (10).

Price-Performance Ratio

Chitosan is a very cheap compound. One hundred capsules have an average price of around $5. The price of its vegetable alternative is higher, bordering on $15 per container. Of course, adding other slimming supplements will raise the final price of the product.

Summary

Chitosan supplements are a safe and environmentally friendly tool that can help you achieve better weight control. This molecule, derived from the waste of crustaceans, will absorb a part of the fats in your diet, reducing the calories consumed with each meal.

However, this supplement will not be able to do anything against an unhealthy diet. Use it if you need additional help during your weight loss program, but don’t forget that you are the only one who can reshape your body. There are no shortcuts or magic pills, but there are potential allies that will help you in your fight against those pesky extra pounds.

We want to know your opinion. If this article on chitosan has been interesting to you, leave us a comment and share this article on your social networks!

(Source of featured image: Taliun: 32693159/ 123rf.com)

References (10)

1. Cruz-Filho AM da, Bordin AR de V, Souza-Flamini LE, Guedes DF da C, Saquy PC, Silva RG, et al. Analysis of the shelf life of chitosan stored in different types of packaging, using colorimetry and dentin microhardness. Restor Dent Endod [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2020 Jan 6];42(2):87.
Source

2. Chuah LO, Ho WY, Beh BK, Yeap SK. Updates on Antiobesity Effect of Garcinia Origin (−)-HCA. Evidence-Based Complement Altern Med [Internet]. 2013 [cited 2020 Jan 6];2013:1–17.
Source

3. Khora SS. Seafood-Associated Shellfish Allergy: A Comprehensive Review [Internet]. Vol. 45, Immunological Investigations. Taylor and Francis Ltd; 2016 [cited 2020 Jan 6]. p. 504–30.
Source

4. Hall KD, Kahan S. Maintenance of Lost Weight and Long-Term Management of Obesity. Med Clin North Am [Internet]. 2018 Jan 1 [cited 2020 Jan 6];102(1):183–97.
Source

5. Chitosan Uses, Benefits & Dosage - Drugs.com Herbal Database [Internet]. [cited 2020 Jan 6].
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6. Chitosan supplement, does it work for weight loss or reduce cholesterol? [Internet]. [cited 2020 Jan 6].
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7. Person AK, Chudgar SM, Norton BL, Tong BC, Stout JE. Aspergillus niger: an unusual cause of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis. J Med Microbiol [Internet]. 2010 Jul 1 [cited 2020 Jan 6];59(7):834–8.
Source

8. Kionutrime-CsG ® [Internet]. [cited 2020 Jan 6].
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9. Jull AB, Ni Mhurchu C, Bennett DA, Dunshea-Mooij CAE, Rodgers A. Chitosan for overweight or obesity. Cochrane Database Syst Rev [Internet]. 2008 Jul 16 [cited 2020 Jan 1];(3).
Source

10. Bellich B, D’Agostino I, Semeraro S, Gamini A, Cesàro A. “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” of Chitosans. Mar Drugs [Internet]. 2016 May 17 [cited 2020 Jan 1];14(5):99.
Source

Why you can trust me?

Rhoda Clang Non-Medical Practitioner
Rhoda noticed from a young age that she was interested in alternative healing methods and the functions of the human body. That's why she became a non-medical practitioner. She has been helping so many people in a natural way for quite a long time. In her free time, she likes to write articles about these topics in order to enlighten people.
Cruz-Filho AM da, Bordin AR de V, Souza-Flamini LE, Guedes DF da C, Saquy PC, Silva RG, et al. Analysis of the shelf life of chitosan stored in different types of packaging, using colorimetry and dentin microhardness. Restor Dent Endod [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2020 Jan 6];42(2):87.
Go to source
Chuah LO, Ho WY, Beh BK, Yeap SK. Updates on Antiobesity Effect of Garcinia Origin (−)-HCA. Evidence-Based Complement Altern Med [Internet]. 2013 [cited 2020 Jan 6];2013:1–17.
Go to source
Khora SS. Seafood-Associated Shellfish Allergy: A Comprehensive Review [Internet]. Vol. 45, Immunological Investigations. Taylor and Francis Ltd; 2016 [cited 2020 Jan 6]. p. 504–30.
Go to source
Hall KD, Kahan S. Maintenance of Lost Weight and Long-Term Management of Obesity. Med Clin North Am [Internet]. 2018 Jan 1 [cited 2020 Jan 6];102(1):183–97.
Go to source
Chitosan Uses, Benefits & Dosage - Drugs.com Herbal Database [Internet]. [cited 2020 Jan 6].
Go to source
Chitosan supplement, does it work for weight loss or reduce cholesterol? [Internet]. [cited 2020 Jan 6].
Go to source
Person AK, Chudgar SM, Norton BL, Tong BC, Stout JE. Aspergillus niger: an unusual cause of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis. J Med Microbiol [Internet]. 2010 Jul 1 [cited 2020 Jan 6];59(7):834–8.
Go to source
Kionutrime-CsG ® [Internet]. [cited 2020 Jan 6].
Go to source
Jull AB, Ni Mhurchu C, Bennett DA, Dunshea-Mooij CAE, Rodgers A. Chitosan for overweight or obesity. Cochrane Database Syst Rev [Internet]. 2008 Jul 16 [cited 2020 Jan 1];(3).
Go to source
Bellich B, D’Agostino I, Semeraro S, Gamini A, Cesàro A. “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” of Chitosans. Mar Drugs [Internet]. 2016 May 17 [cited 2020 Jan 1];14(5):99.
Go to source