Side Effects of Apple Cider Vinegar Tablets

Apple cider vinegar tablets are promoted as the ultimate weight loss aid. While it's true that they may have a small impact on body weight, their side effects shouldn't be ignored. Before popping pills, make sure you understand the issues.

Apple cider vinegar tablets are promoted as the ultimate weight loss aid. Credit: dragana991/iStock/GettyImages

What Are ACV Pills?

Unless you live on a deserted island, you've probably heard about apple cider vinegar (ACV) and its benefits. Proponents say that it burns fat, prevents diabetes, suppresses appetite, cures cancer and so on. The truth is that few of these claims are backed by actual evidence. Most studies have been conducted on animals or involved short-term trials, points out Harvard Health Publishing.

Current research confirms that apple cider vinegar may moderately lower blood sugar levels, reports the University of Chicago Medicine. However, it's not a cure for diabetes and cannot replace your medications. Its role in weight loss is questionable. Some studies suggest that it may cause a modest reduction in body weight, while others show no effect.

Apple cider vinegar pills are a concentrated form of ACV. They make this acidic beverage easier to consume and may facilitate weight loss, according to manufacturers. Some contain pure ACV, while others use it in combination with green tea extract, garcinia cambogia, cayenne pepper and other so-called fat-burning ingredients.

Do Vinegar Tablets Work?

A small number of studies suggest that vinegar may improve overall health due to its antioxidant, antimicrobial and hypoglycemic properties. Unfortunately, there isn't enough evidence to confirm its anti-obesity effects.

The Journal of Food Science, for example, reviewed the functional properties of vinegar in a research paper published in May 2014. This beverage is rich in caffeic acid, gallic acid, catechins and other bioactive compounds. In clinical trials, it has been shown to destroy foodborne pathogenic bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, due to its high content of acetic acid.

Furthermore, apple cider vinegar, sherry vinegar and other varieties boast high antioxidant values and may reduce oxidative stress. ACV, for instance, contains p-coumaric acid, caffeic acid, epicatechins and other phytochemicals with radical-scavenging effects. As the researchers note, this beverage may lower blood sugar levels and increase satiety, reducing total food intake. Some studies have found that it may reduce cholesterol levels and increase insulin sensitivity.

Another research paper, featured in Nutrition Reviews in October 2014, reports similar findings. Vinegar may increase energy expenditure, stimulate fat breakdown and reduce fat accumulation, but more studies are needed to confirm these claims. Additionally, most clinical trials have mixed results.

Read more: 15 Tips From Real People Who Succeeded at Losing Weight

Apple cider vinegar tablets are not a magic bullet for weight loss. Their safety and efficacy are subject to debate. Like most supplements, they carry potential risks and may aggravate certain health conditions.

The Dangers of ACV Pills

Several case reports confirm that apple cider vinegar may not be safe, especially when consumed regularly or in large doses. The same goes for vinegar tablets, which may cause adverse effects. Low potassium levels, tooth erosion, esophagus injuries, hypoglycemia and digestive discomfort are just a few examples.

None of the studies conducted on ACV have assessed the pill form. Therefore, it's hard to tell whether or not vinegar tablets are safe.

The Mayo Clinic warns that apple cider vinegar may interact with insulin, diuretics and other medications or supplements. According to the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation, this food ingredient may hurt the stomach and throat, affect potassium levels and worsen the symptoms of gastric ulcers.

Harvard Health Publishing states that vinegar may not be safe for people with diabetes, as it affects insulin levels. A recent case report published in Clinical Endoscopy in August 2019 states that regular vinegar consumption may damage the esophagus and gastric mucosa. Over time, it may lead to esophageal ulcers.

These warnings, though, apply to liquid ACV, not pills. The FDA doesn't regulate dietary supplements, which makes it difficult to determine their safety. However, it states that supplement manufacturers are not allowed to make disease claims, such as "cures cancer" or "reduces cholesterol levels."

Read more: 43 Supplements Exposed: Which Ones to Consider, Which Ones to Avoid

Your doctor will likely tell you to steer clear of ACV pills and other similar products, especially if you have diabetes, electrolyte imbalances or peptic ulcers. If you still want to take vinegar tablets, start with the lowest possible dose and see how your body reacts. Stop taking the pills if you experience any side effects.

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