Raspberry ketone supplements promise A LOT. The people who
are selling them will pretty much tell you that they will melt away your
unwanted fat while you lay on the sofa watching Netflix and eating Pringles.
The reason they can tell you this is because the nutritional supplement
industry is like the Wild West – unregulated and full of no-good sons-of-guns
out to make a dime…but that’s another story.
which are sold as supplements – even if they call them ‘natural’ or ‘pure’ are
actually an artificially derived but naturally occurring chemical, less
catchily called (4-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-2-butanone). This
chemical is responsible for giving raspberries and other berries their
delicious smell and so it has been manufactured and used as a flavouring in the
food industry for many years. None of
the supplements that are sold will have been made from actual raspberries and I
know this because it would take 238kg of raspberries to make ONE 500mg tablet
of raspberry ketones. 238kg is the weight of an average, female North American
Black Bear. Aint’ nobody got that many raspberries.
A bear’s weight in
raspberries aside – and we all know we’d eat a bear’s weight in raspberries
everyday if it meant we could watch endless Netflix, eat bottomless Pringles
and still look like Beyoncé – the real questions here are:
Do they work and are they safe?
Let’s start with the
important question of whether they work.
Guess what? We don’t know.
There have been a few rat and mice studies looking at their
potential to induce weight loss in massive doses which showed some promise in
controlling weight gain, however, unless you are a mouse or a rat living in a
lab, you should disregard this.
The guy that
decided to tell the world that they worked was Dr. Oz from the good ol’ US of
A. At least 50% of what Dr. Oz has to say has been shown by The British Medical
Journal to have no scientific backing with some of his advice directly
contradicting scientific evidence. He also believes that homosexuality is an
illness that can be cured. Sounds like a reputable person to take advice from
don’t ya’ think?! (To be explicit, I am being sarcastic. Anyone who thinks
homosexuality can or should be cured is abhorrent to me). I have tried really
hard to find any human studies but I can’t…probably because we haven’t yet
established if large doses of raspberry ketones are safe to use in a clinical trial… which leads me seamlessly onto the
Are they safe?
Guess what? We don’t know?
A paper examining the safety and toxicity of raspberry
ketones which was published in 2015 concludes that there is not enough
information to be sure that it is safe to take them and they are being used at
a dose which is 56 times the established safety threshold. They point out that
similar substances have reproductive/developmental effects and toxic effects on
the heart. They also go on to say that there is another reason that rats and
mice lose weight during experiments and that’s because the substance they are being fed
is toxic to them. In the toxicology world, animals losing weight in trials
isn’t a good thing…it’s a sign of toxicity. They have also managed to find the
dose that actually kills rats and mice in the lab but we still don’t know how
this applies to humans.
In conclusion. We don’t actually know if raspberry ketones
are any good at all at promoting weight loss and we don’t even know if they’re
safe but thanks to Dr. Oz, loads of people are taking them in massive doses
thinking that they’re just a nice natural raspberry supplement so I guess we’ll
know soon!! A few case studies have started emerging of people developing
health problems and one of a death related to raspberry ketone use BUT because
they are so often sold and taken with both herbal medicines that cause
diarrhoea and/or contain high doses of caffeine, we don’t really know what the
cause of the problems has been.
IF you want to gamble your health based on the fact that
lab rats lost some weight when they were taking these chemicals, then thanks to
the lack of control in the nutritional supplements industry, you can just go
right ahead…but they don’t get my coveted seal of approval.