Chitosan

Chistosan is a dietary supplement that helps in weight loss by curbing the assimilation of fats in the body. It is also called a 'fat blocker'. Normally, chistosan is derived from chitin that is present in the exoskeletons of shellfish. They are found in shrimps and crabs.

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In fact, chitosan is much like the plant fiber, which is not easily digested by the human body. If ingested orally, chitosan functions like a fat sponge. This is because as the chitosan goes through the digestive tract, it has the capability to soak up four to six times its mass in fat. As a result of this, chitosan helps in flushing out fat from the body even before it is metabolized and stored in the system as excess pounds of fat. Simply speaking, you can eat fatty foods and still remain healthy as well as free from disorders owing to excessive fat if you use chitosan. Thus, you have a double benefit - you can have your cake and eat it too.

However, it is disheartening to learn that chitosan cannot cure the disorder like chronic over-eating. The substance can only be used at times possibly as an instrument to jump-start a diet. It is not advisable to use chitosan for over a fortnight at a stretch. The trouble with using chitosan us that while it cleanse the fat out of our body, it can also divest the system of vitamins that are soluble in fats. Such vitamins include vitamin E, A, D and K. Here is a word of advice. If you take chitosan, it is necessary that you complement your diet with fat-soluble vitamins and the essential fatty acids.

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Apart from this, chitosan is reported to be safe and there are several studies that have indicated that the use of the substance may be far more beneficial than its known capability to reduce weight in a person. For instance, a study conducted recently demonstrated that when a group of mice were fed on an identified carcinogen, the mice ingesting a chitosan accompanying diet had lesser pre-cancerous laceration of the colon than the mice that were not provided with chitosan. Other studies conducted on the substance have established that chitosan can remarkably lower total blood cholesterol levels, while increasing the levels of HDL, which is considered to be 'good' cholesterol as it helps in protecting against heart disease. This resourceful dietary food supplement is also well known for its ability to thwart tooth decay. In addition, chitosan is also a brilliant antacid.

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Uses

Studies have found that chitosan has exceptional properties that permit to clot blood fast. As a result of this unique quality of chitosan, authorities in the USA have recently granted permission to use it in bandages and other homostatic agents. Chitosan that has been purified from shrimp shells is generally used in coarse homostatic products in Celox in England as well as chitosan dressings prepared by HemCon Medical Technologies Inc. of Portland in the USA. Tests conducted by the US Marines have found that chitosan to stop bleeding rapidly and results in 100 per cent cases showed that it actively reduced heavy blood loss from otherwise deadly arterial wounds. Other tests have shown that compared to the gauge dressings, the Hemcon product helps in reducing blood losses and increase the survival rates of the patients. Significantly, the Hemcon products have already been sold to the US Army and the latter have successfully used them to cure injured soldiers in the battlefields during the Iraq war. Significantly, chitosan is hypo-allergenic in nature and possesses normal anti-bacterial features that further promote its use as field bandages.

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In the drug or health stores, chitosan, popularly known as a 'fat attractor' is generally available in tablet form. Studies have shown its capability to draw fat from the digestive system and drive it out from the body. According to claims made by advocators of chitosan, this process enables the users of this substance to lose weight without worrying about eating less. However, some scientific studies have shown that such claims lack any base or evidence and the process may occur even without ingesting chitosan. These studies further stated that unchanged chitosan can at the most remove 10 calories from a person's diet every day. In addition, modified or unchanged chitosan is known to be able to absorb as well as remove three to six times its weight in fat and oils from the body. On the other hand, critics assert that use of chitosan may have harmful effects on the body as it is likely to render several minerals found in our food stuff ineffective and hence may prove to be detrimental for healthy living.

Normally chitosan is used as an enhancer for plant growth and also as a material that enhances the ability of the plants to protect them against all kinds of fungal infections. Chitosan is approved for both outdoor and indoor use on numerous plants that are grown commercially as well as by those cultivated by the consumers. Vigorous constituents of chitosan are present in the crustacean shells - shrimps, crabs, lobsters and in some particular organisms. As chitosan is found in abundance in the nature and has very low toxic potential, it is unlikely to cause any damage to people, pets, wildlife or the environment provided it is used following the instructions on the package labels.

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Commercially, chitosan is also used in the water processing engineering and forms a crucial part of the water filtration process. Chitosan has the special capability to truss together fine particles of sediments and these are easily removed from the water along with other sediments during the sand filtration process. In addition to this, chitosan also has the ability to remove heavy metals, phosphorus and oils from the contaminated water. Chitosan is definitely an imperative chemical addition in the filtration process. While sand filtration can alone remove up to 50 per cent of the contaminants from the water, when chitosan is added to sand filtration together they are capable to purifying the water up to 99 per cent.

Apart from its use in water filtration, chitosan is also valuable in other filtration processes, especially where one may require removing floating or suspended particles from any liquid. Amalgamation of chitosan with other materials like gelatin, bentonite, silica gel, isinglass or other chastising means is often used to refine wine, mead and beer. If chitosan is added in the latter part of the brewing process, it helps in enhancing flocculation as well as removes yeast cells, fruit particles and other accumulations that may cause the wine to be unclear or hazy. On the other hand, when chitosan is blended with colloidal silica it becomes an effectual chastising agent for white wines. This process is becoming increasingly popular among white wine brewers as chitosan doesn't require any acidic tannin to flocculate with. Usually acidic tannins are found in red wines and not white wines.

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Comments

From Sharon Martin
Just wanted to let you know that there is a non animal form of chitosan now available from a company in Belgium called Kitozyme. The source is fungi. I'm in the Personal Care industry and we prefer vegetable sources of material to animal. It may be interesting to other markets as well.
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