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 Nutritional Medicine: Nutritional Programs for Weight Loss  

Since weight loss involves a mild process of detoxification, with the body burning fat and other tissues (without proper exercise, the body loses muscle as well), some antioxidant nutrients are suggested to handle the extra toxin load. Vitamin C, 1–3 grams daily in two or three portions, and vitamin E and selenium, usually taken together in the morning, are suggested. L-cysteine can also be used; this amino acid helps liver and intestinal detoxification processes.

Other amino acids have been recommended by some authorities. A general L-amino acid formula can be used; Dr. Stuart Berger suggests taking it about 30–60 minutes before meals, as certain amino acids, such as phenylalanine, may help reduce the appetite. In Vitamin Power, Stephanie Rick and Rita Aero cite research that suggests that a combination of arginine and lysine, 1,500 mg. each, taken before bed can help weight loss by increasing growth hormone production and improving fatty acid metabolism and general energy. I have been more impressed with L-carnitine’s help in weight loss, as it supports the efficient use of fats in the body. The usual plan is 500 mg. taken twice daily, with the morning and evening meals.

Various fatty acids may also be taken to stimulate weight loss by improving fatty acid metabolism. An essential fatty acid formula can be used. Most obese people need more good polyunsaturated fats to balance their lipid metabolism. Gamma-linolenic acid from evening primrose oil and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) from fish oil are both precursors to different prostaglandins and may also be helpful. Some chronically obese people will respond to supplementation with essential fatty acids and evening primrose oil. Cold-pressed linseed (flax) oil is high in both omega-3 (EPA and alpha-linolenic) the omega-6 (linoleic and others) fatty acids and is a less expensive way to obtain these oils. Usually, three or four teaspoons a day are sufficient if fats are avoided in the diet. When taking additional fatty acids, it is wise to supplement the many cofactors that help in fatty acid metabolism. These are zinc, magnesium, beta-carotene, and vitamins A, C, niacin, pyridoxine, and biotin. Vitamin E also aids our metabolism as well as prevents oxidation of the other oils.

Weight Loss Support Plan*

  • Improving digestive effectiveness. Poor breakdown of foods allows poor cell nutrition, which can lead to cravings and overeating. Hydrochloric acid, digestive enzymes, and pancreas may help.

  • Improving metabolism (utilization efficiency) of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, particularly the burning of fats for fuel. Their suggested supplements include carnitine, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, folic acid, choline, inositol, methionine, taurine, liver and thyroid glandulars, vitamin A, dimethylglycine (DMG), and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).

  • Stimulating energy levels with vitamin C, pantothenic acid, adrenal glandular, potassium, magnesium, manganese, chromium, octocosanol, and the branched-chain amino acids—leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

  • Reducing cravings, especially for sweets, by using the amino acid glutamine, chromium, and by avoiding allergenic foods.

  • Suppressing the appetite with the amino acids phenylalanine and tryptophan.

*Adapted from the book Super Fitness Beyond Vitamins, Michael Rosenbaum, M.D., and Dominick Bosco.

There are many herbs that can also be helpful during weight loss. Juniper berry is a good diuretic herb and helps in detoxification. Parsley leaf is also a diuretic, and peppermint leaf tea helps reduce the appetite for many people, as it is said to relax the stomach nerves. Chickweed herb, a spring green, has historically been known for reducing appetite and helping in weight loss. Bladderwrack is a type of sea vegetable; when taken with kelp, it will support thyroid function, and the high mineral levels of this herb aid general energy utilization. Garlic has also been used in weight-loss programs to help lower blood lipids and for detoxification.

In The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine, Dr. Mowrey notes that he never suggests chickweed because of the lack of backup research on it. Plantain (Plantago ovata) is a green with much more scientific support. The plantain fiber aids in weight loss by reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels, by lessening fat absorption, and by its "appetite-satiating" effect. Dr. Mowrey’s herbal formula for weight loss includes plantain, fennel seed, burdock root, hawthorn berry (to support heart function), kelp, and bladderwrack.

Losing weight effectively and healthfully and maintaining a proper weight is a complex and multifaceted process. Finding a diet that works for us is important, and creating a good exercise program is essential for long-term weight control. Implementing our healthy diet almost always requires changes in various habits and relationships that affected our weight previously. Behavior patterns need to be altered in order to achieve a new relationship to food. Both behavior and motivation can be learned, but it takes work—repeated and sustained effort. Beginning to believe in ourselves and our success is also catalyst and a source of support in becoming who we want to be, with the body and energy we desire. We have to know we can do it, believe it, see it in our mind’s eye, and feel it in our hearts to have the body, health, and life that we want—and then do the work it takes to maintain them.

The following supplement plan can be used during a weight-reduction plan when daily calorie intake is limited. The amounts for each nutrient are a daily total, which can be divided into three portions.

Weight Loss Nutrient Program

Water 3 qt. Calcium 800–1,200 mg.
Calories1,000–1,800 Chromium400 mcg.
Fiber (includes diet20 g. Copper2–3 mg.
plus bran & psyllium Iodine150–225 mcg.
supplements) Iron15–20 mg.
Psyllium6–8 g. daily Magnesium500–800 mg.
(before meals) Manganese10 mg.
Bran8–10 g. daily Molybdenum500 mcg.
(after meals Potassium1–2 g.
and at bedtime) Selenium200 mcg.

Silicon100 mg.
Vitamin A 10,000 IUs Zinc 30–60 mg.
Beta-carotene10,000–30,000 IUs
Vitamin D400 IUs Others:
Vitamin E400–800 IUs Digestive enzymes2–3 tablets
Vitamin K300 mcg. (after meals)
Thiamine (B1)75–150 mg. Adrenal glandular50–100 mg.
Riboflavin (B2)50–100 mg. L-amino acids1,500 mg.
Niacinamide (B3)75–150 mg. L-carnitine1,000 mg.
Pantothenic acid (B5) 250–500 mg. Phenylalanine500 mg.
Pyridoxine (B6) 50–100 mg. (before meals)
Pyridoxal-5-phosphate50–100 mg. Flaxseed oil1 Tablespoon
Cobalamin (B12)100–200 mcg. Olive oil2 teaspoons
Folic acid600–800 mcg. (with psyllium)
Biotin 500 mcg. (before meals)
Choline500–1,000 mg. Evening
Inositol 500 mg. primrose oil4–6 capsules
Vitamin C3 g. Coenzyme Q1020–30 mg.
Bioflavonoids 250–500 mg. Dimethylglycine50–100 mg.
Organic germanium100–200 mg.

(Excerpted from Staying Healthy with Nutrition ISBN: 1587611791)
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 About The Author
Elson Haas MDElson M. Haas, MD is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books on Health and Nutrition, including ...more
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