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What is it?: Raspberry ketone is an aromatic compound found in raspberries that, when ingested in high doses, is said to increase the body's production of adiponectin, a protein used to regulate your metabolism, as well as the body's breaking down of fat stores. In order to ingest the recommended 100-milligram dosage required to affect these changes, however, one would have to consume 90 pounds of raspberries per day. As a result, the compound is produced synthetically in labs and consumed in pill form.
The effects of raspberry ketone
According to Dr. Mehmet Oz -- America's (and Oprah Winfrey's) favourite physician-turned-television star -- raspberry ketone is nothing short of a weight-loss miracle. Likening the effect of raspberry ketone on fat cells to that of liquid nitrogen on balloons, Dr. Oz promises that, when used in conjunction with a balanced diet and exercise, the supplement will bring about dramatic physical changes. According to Dr. Oz, raspberry ketone essentially tricks your body into thinking it is thin.
The proof: There isn't much, unfortunately. What few studies have been done on the raspberry ketone compound have involved testing either on mice or in test tubes.
Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, the founder and medical director of Ottawa's Bariatric Medical Institute and the author of top health blog Weighty Matters, cautions against relying on mice-based results to predict outcomes in humans.
"Mice are not simply little people," says Dr. Freedhoff. "Using them as models does a great disservice because the translation of information to humans is miniscule at best."
Page 1 of 2 -- Is raspberry ketone worth the cost? Find out on page 2
One study showed that mice on a high-fat diet did not gain any weight when fed the supplement, while another showed a reduction in their adiponectin levels.
"In these studies, the raspberry ketones were given to the mice in huge quantities -- two per cent of their body weight -- resulting in them gaining less weight or to not gain weight," explains Dr. Freedhoff.
To date, no long-term studies involving raspberry ketone have been performed on human subjects.
The cost: Online health stores are currently selling raspberry ketone for up to $180 for a 90-day supply. If the photographic testimonials shown on "The Dr. Oz Show" are in fact a direct result of the raspberry ketone working its magic, the cost just might be worth it.
However, as Dr. Freedhoff points out, singing the praises of raspberry ketone represents a change in Dr. Oz's tune. In an interview with Maclean's that predates the episode of "The Dr. Oz Show" where he first introduced the product, Dr. Oz said that the supplement would simply offer your weight-loss efforts a "nudge," helping you lose three or four pounds more than you would have otherwise. At more than $700 per year, that's one expensive nudge.
It it really worth the cost?
The verdict: While taking raspberry ketone isn't likely to negatively impact your health (just your wallet), there is no conclusive evidence that it will put you on the express train to Slimtown, either. As for the personal success stories seen on "The Dr. Oz Show," little information was provided on what else the individuals had been doing to shed their weight. In all likelihood, there are small changes you can make to your own lifestyle that will "nudge" off those last few pounds for free.
What does Dr. Freedhoff think of Dr. Oz's relentless plugging of the raspberry ketone compound? "I believe it's a physician's responsibility to be informed and to provide that information to their patients, not to sell them something," says Dr. Freedhoff. "There is no such thing as magical pills or miracle cures."
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