Each day, millions of Americans take dietary supplements in an effort to boost or maintain their health. Because all supplements have the capacity to cause side effects, it's necessary to take a cautious approach. Acai berry supplements are labeled natural, but that doesn't make them safer than other dietary supplements. These supplements may cause side effects. Talk to your doctor before taking acai berry pills or any other dietary supplement.
Research on Acai Supplementation
Manufacturers claim acai supplements aid in weight loss, but more research is needed to know how well it works. However, preliminary evidence suggests acai may promote healthy blood sugar and cholesterol. A small preliminary study appearing in the May 2012 issue of the Nutrition Journal showed that taking acai for 30 days resulted in reductions in fasting glucose, insulin and total cholesterol. The authors concluded that these positive results warrant further investigation.
Common Gastrointestinal Complaints
Reports of negative reactions to acai berry supplement are limited. Natural Standard, a research collaborative involving Harvard Medical School, found no toxic effects of acai berry extract and only minor side effects. Taking acai berry supplements may cause mild gastrointestinal side effects such as bloating, gas, nausea, constipation or loose stool, according to the "Natural Standard Herb & Supplement Guide" book. This doesn't mean you will experience these side effects; if you do, they may go away as your body adjusts.
Additional Potential Side Effects
Extracts of acai berry supplements may decrease blood sugar and interact with blood sugar-lowering medication. Keep this in mind if you're prone to bouts of low blood sugar or if you're prescribed medication to control your blood glucose. In addition, acai berry is particularly high in potassium. Avoid taking it if you're following a low-potassium diet for reasons such as kidney problems.
A Word of Caution
Acai berry supplements may contain other ingredients such as herbs and caffeine. This means you may experience side effects from the other ingredients, even if the acai itself has no negative effect on you. Check the product label and try to choose one that contains only acai berry as an active ingredient.
Clinical studies have only evaluated acai berry as a single ingredient, not in combination with other herbs. Tell your health care provider about any supplements you plan to take.
- Natural Standard Herb & Supplement Guide: An Evidence-Based Reference; Natural Standard
- Nutrition Journal: Effects of Açai (Euterpe Oleracea Mart.) Berry Preparation on Metabolic Parameters in a Healthy Overweight Population: A Pilot Study