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Chitosan is a dietary fiber derived from chitin. Chitin is an aminopolysaccharide (combination of sugar and protein) that comes from the shells of shellfish. Chitin used to be nothing more than a waste product of the shellfish industry, but a bit of chemical treatment and - Voila! - a new fiber is born. Chitosan is typically found in dietary supplements for reducing cholesterol levels and promoting weight loss.
1. The majority of research on chitosan has been done in animals where it has been shown to effectively bind to fats in the digestive tract and prevent their absorption.
2. As a supplement to promote a mild reduction in fat absorption and serum levels of LDL cholesterol, chitosan appears to be effective. As a weight loss agent, however, chitosan only appears to offer benefits when used in conjunction with a low-fat, reduced calorie diet. As such, chitosan supplements should not be expected to deliver significant weight loss effects unless significant dietary alterations are followed.