Vitamins, Minerals

Garcinia

Garcinia, or garcinia cambogia to give it its full name, is a native fruit of Indochina, and looks a bit like a very small pumpkin. Garcinia cambogia is an excellent source of hydroxycitric acid, or HCA, which is believed to be an appetite suppressant with an additional metabolic function, hence its inclusion in many of the latest ‘fat burner’ weight loss supplements.



The process behind these claimed weight loss benefits centers around HCA and its ability to inhibit an enzyme found in the human body called citrate lyase, which is involved in the conversion of excess dietary carbohydrates into fat that can be stored. Nutritionists believe that via the process of inhibiting this enzyme, HCA stimulates the body to burn the extra dietary carbohydrates rather than converting them into fat, which results in both weight loss and increased energy for short ‘burst’ periods of time.

Additionally, scientists believe it may be the case that garcinia cambogia extract, in the form of HCA, can stimulate the body to burn higher levels of existing fat stores during times of physical exertion, greatly increasing the effectiveness of exercise for those people looking to lose weight as well as gain lean muscle mass. They may also be able to train harder due to the increased levels of glycogen, and therefore increased energy reserves available as a result if the same fat burning process.

Extensive investigations revealed that HCA is an effective appetite suppressant, being found to increase weight loss by up to 300% over a three month period, a substantial benefit. This is believed to be due to the combined effect of the appetite suppression and increased carbohydrate oxidation processes promoted by HCA. The appetite suppressant qualities of garcinia cambogia are most likely due to it increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a potent neurotransmitter which is responsible for, amongst many other things, controlling appetite by suppressing it.

There is also some evidence to suggest that carcinia cambogia may act as a thermogenic, which means that it stimulates the nervous system, resulting in increased metabolic rate which burns energy off as heat. Thermogenics are a popular type of fat burning supplement.



Garcinia cambogia is a perfectly healthy, natural fruit and its extract, containing HCA, is available over the counter. There are no reported side-effects from either eating the garcinia fruit, or supplementing with the extract, though some groups may be advised against supplementation, including pregnant women, children, diabetics and people with Alzheimer’s or dementia, who may risk complications as a result of taking an HCA supplement. In the case of Alzheimer’s, the HCA may cause for formation of acetylcholine in brain tissue, whereas diabetics may suffer as a result of HCA’s ability to lower blood sugar levels. This blood sugar action is the same that may reduce cravings for sweet food in dieters.

Garcinia cambogia is available as a supplement in the form of capsules containing garcinia extract, usually with a minimum of 50% of the active ingredient, HCA. Nutritionists recommend that three doses are taken, with breakfast lunch and dinner, for maximum absorption and effectiveness of the supplement.

Some nutritionists claim that HCA is most effective, like creatine, when the body is allowed to build up a reserve of it. It is also thought that supplementing with smaller amounts of HCA can help to maintain an ideal weight following a weight loss program or for those who are particularly weight conscious.

There is some evidence to suggest that garcinia cambogia may be able to prevent the likelihood of a person developing stomach ulcers or other gastrointestinal problems. Preliminary findings show that this may be due to the ability of HCA to lower the level of acid in the stomach, which is responsible in excess for the formation of most stomach ulcers. Nutritionists investigating these claims also believe that garcinia cambogia may help to strengthen the lining of the stomach, protecting it from damage such as that caused my stomach acid. More investigations are needed, however, in this regard, before garcinia cambogia can be recommended as a preventative treatment for stomach ulcers or any other gastrointestinal condition.

Pregnant women and diabetics are not recommended to supplement with garcinia cambogia, or its extract in the form of HCA, as they may have an effect on blood sugar levels which may be unhelpful.

There are few recorded cases of side-effects caused by taking garcinia cambogia or garcinia extract as HCA, but you should consult a medical professional if you experience any side-effects as a result of taking garcinia cambogia or its extract in the form of HCA, and preferably also before beginning any course of supplementation.



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