Apple cider vinegar pills are said to guarantee quick weight loss, heartburn relief and better digestion. While vinegar may have some benefits, its role in fat loss is controversial. In fact, most health claims related to this beverage lack scientific evidence.
ACV Pills and Weight Loss
Weight loss supplements generate more than $2 billion a year in the U.S. alone, reports the National Institutes of Health. About 15 percent of American adults have used such products at some point to help them in their weight-loss efforts. Yet, there is little evidence to support their efficacy. On top of that, most supplements that fall into this category carry potential side effects, from chest pain and heart palpitations to liver damage.
Read more: The 12 Most Overrated Supplements
Dieters often use apple cider vinegar (ACV) for its fat-burning effect. ACV pills are heavily promoted as a natural weight loss aid. These products claim to improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels, suppress appetite, boost energy expenditure and so on. But it's just marketing hype, states Penn Medicine and other health organizations.
There's no proof that apple cider vinegar pills, or ACV in general, facilitate weight loss. Some small studies suggest that vinegar may help you get leaner and curb hunger, but their findings are questionable. Its anti-obesity effects are attributed to acetic acid, a natural compound that may reduce carbohydrate absorption and lower blood glucose levels. However, most studies involving the use of acetic acid have been conducted on mice or in lab conditions, not on human subjects.
Apple Cider Vinegar Uses
Apple cider vinegar and ACV pills are also used for glycemic control. According to a May 2017 review in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, vinegar consumption may improve glycemic control. This fermented beverage has been proven effective at lowering blood sugar and insulin levels in several studies. None of them involved ACV pills, though.
Another review, published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine in May 2018 shows that vinegar may cause a small but significant decrease in hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c) within eight to 12 weeks. Elevated HbA1c levels are often a sign of diabetes, points out the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Medical professionals check its levels in the bloodstream to diagnose or rule out this disease and to monitor blood sugar.
Apple cider vinegar is also promoted as an antimicrobial, anti-hypertensive and anticarcinogenic agent. Again, most studies and clinical trials were small or conducted on rats, which limit their validity. The experts at Tufts University, for instance, state that ACV is unlikely to reduce blood pressure or aid in weight loss.
How to Take ACV Pills
As you see, the advantages and disadvantages of apple cider vinegar are subject to debate. The same goes for ACV pills. Currently, there are no studies to confirm their effectiveness. Further, dietary supplements don't require approval by the Food and Drug Administration before hitting the store shelves, so they may not be safe. Reach out to your doctor before taking apple cider vinegar pills or any other supplements.
Note that the dosage will vary from one brand to another. It also depends on the product, how concentrated it is and what else it contains. The ACV tablets from Whole Health, for example, deliver 600 milligrams of ACV per serving. That's the equivalent of 1 teaspoon. The manufacturer recommends taking one pill with food daily.
In general, the maximum daily recommended dosage is 2 teaspoons, states Harvard Health Publishing. This beverage is highly acidic and may affect your teeth, stomach and upper digestive tract. In the worst-case scenario, it may cause severe gastroesophageal damage. Dilute it with water and take it during meals to reduce its acidity.
Since there are no studies on ACV pills, their side effects are unknown. To stay safe, take them with food — just like you'd do with liquid apple cider vinegar. Stick to the recommended dose and stop using them if something feels wrong.
Beware that vinegar may alter potassium and insulin levels, warns Harvard Health. ACV capsules may have similar effects, depending on their concentration. Get your doctor's approval before using these products.
Read more: The DOs and DON'Ts of Clean Eating
Remember, your diet and exercise habits matter most. Weight loss supplements cannot offset the damage done by a sedentary lifestyle and bad food choices. Clean up your diet, cut out added sugars and limit processed foods while increasing your activity level. Good nutrition combined with regular exercise can do more your health — and your waistline — than any pill.
- Harvard Health: "Apple Cider Vinegar… for Heartburn?"
- National Institutes of Health: "Dietary Supplements for Weight Loss"
- Penn Medicine: "Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help You Lose Weight?"
- Journal of Food Science: "Functional Properties of Vinegar"
- Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice: "Vinegar Consumption Can Attenuate Postprandial Glucose and Insulin Responses: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Clinical Trials"
- Journal of Evidence Based Integrative Medicine: "Diabetes Control: Is Vinegar a Promising Candidate to Help Achieve Targets?"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c) Test"
- Scientific Reports: "Antimicrobial Activity of Apple Cider Vinegar Against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans: Downregulating Cytokine and Microbial Protein Expression"
- Tufts University: "Will Apple Cider Vinegar Really Improve Blood Pressure?"
- Food and Drug Administration: "What You Need to Know About Dietary Supplements"
- Whole Health: "Apple Cider Vinegar 600mg"
- Harvard Health: "Apple Cider Vinegar Diet: Does It Really Work?"
- Clinical Endoscopy: "Corrosive Esophageal Injury Due to a Commercial Vinegar Beverage in an Adolescent"