From digestion to overall health, they claim no shortage of benefits. But can dietary supplements actually help with weight loss?

From digestion to overall health, the dietary supplement industry claims no shortage of benefits. But can these miracle pills actually help with weight loss?

Here’s what you need to know.

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1. There are many different types of dietary supplements claiming to help with weight loss.

From protein powder to B vitamins, supplements come in many shapes and sizes.

Iron is thought to support muscle growth by providing them with oxygen, while B vitamins promise to boost the metabolism.

And other supplements, although not directly responsible for weight loss, are able to boost energy, increase satiety or support the immune system. Ultimately, any of these can aid in long term weight loss.

2. The evidence varies.

It’s the answer to most questions about dietary supplements – more research is needed.

Because dietary supplements aren’t considered medicine, they don’t have to be evaluated by the FDA. That means they don’t have to prove that they can treat or cure any conditions – including obesity.

That lack of review can make it difficult to tell which claims are supported by legitimate science, and which may not be accurate. It also means that many supplements haven’t been properly evaluated for safety before going to market, leaving consumers open to harmful side effects.

But there’s a reason the supplement industry is worth billions: many do work. If you’re planning to try one, speak to your doctor to learn which is right for you.

> Related: Should I Consider Taking a Dietary Supplement?

3. A healthy lifestyle is the best way to lose weight.

At the end of the day, there’s no quick fix for weight loss. It isn’t glamorous, but diet and exercise are still the best place to start.

If that doesn’t seem to be working, dietary supplements might still fit into your weight loss plan.

For example, protein powder can help you feel full for longer or build muscle faster, which can accelerate the weight loss process. Or, if a strict diet is leaving you open to a vitamin deficiency, a supplement might be the perfect way to round out your nutrition.

Ultimately, it’s unlikely that you’ll lose weight with a dietary supplement alone. But as you start creating other healthy habits, there are many supplements that can help you along the way.