Does Alli Stop the Absorption of Vitamins?

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Alli has a different function in your body compared to other weight loss aids. Rather than dulling your appetite, Alli stops your body from absorbing dietary fat. However, along with preventing fat absorption, Alli can also stop–or at least decrease–the absorption of vital vitamins you get from meals. To maintain good health while on the Alli plan, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration stresses the importance of taking a multivitamin.

About Alli (Orlistat)

The Food and Drug Administration first approved Alli as a nonprescription weight loss aid in 2007, making it readily available at most drugstores and pharmacies. Alli is a reduced-strength version of a drug called orlistat, or Xenical, which has been prescribed for overweight patients since 1999. Alli’s 60mg capsules–compared to the 120mg capsules in prescription Xenical–are taken three times a day, whenever you eat a meal that contains fat.

How It Works

Alli exerts its effects on lipase, an enzyme in your intestines that breaks down fat. Rather than storing it in your body, fat passes through your intestines and is subsequently eliminated whenever you have a bowel movement, explains MayoClinic.com. This ultimately means you consume fewer calories. According to the manufacturer, Alli can potentially block 25 percent of dietary fat. However, it can also decrease the absorption of vitamins as well, especially those that are fat soluble.

Preventing Nutrient Malabsorption

Alli’s manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, stresses the importance of taking a daily multivitamin when you use this weight loss aid. Choose a supplement that contains vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as beta-carotene. It’s best to take the multivitamin at bedtime, rather than at the same time you take Alli. This allows around 70 percent of fat-soluble vitamins to be absorbed by your body.

Alli and Diet

As a weight loss aid, Alli is effective when you use it as part of a comprehensive plan, which includes eating a low-fat, reduced-calorie diet and engaging in regular exercise. The manufacturer advises limiting the fat you get from food to 15g or less. If you eat a high-fat diet, Alli’s potential side effects may be more severe. These may include diarrhea, gas and oily spotting.

Other Concerns

Take Alli according to the packaging directions, advises MedlinePlus. Alli isn’t recommended for all populations; the manufacturer states that Alli isn’t appropriate for women who are pregnant or nursing and those whose weight is within the range of normal or who already have difficulty absorbing nutrients in food. People who have had an organ transplant shouldn’t take Alli. Certain medications, such as cyclosporine, blood-thinning medications and drugs to treat thyroid disease, may not interact well with Alli. MayoClinic.com advises you to talk with your treating physician to make sure that Alli is the best weight loss aid for you.

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