Glucomannan

Glucomannan is a water-soluble polysaccharide that is considered a dietary fiber. Glucomannan is a food additive used as an emulsifier and thickener. Products containing glucomannan, marketed under a variety of brand names, are also sold as nutritional supplements for constipation, obesity, high cholesterol, acne vulgaris and type 2 diabetes. Although there is some clinical support for potential health benefits, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any product containing glucomannan for the treatment of these medical conditions. Several companies selling products containing glucomannan have been disciplined by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for misleading or exaggerated claims pertaining to the health benefits of glucomannan supplements.

Contents

Chemistry

Glucomannan is mainly a straight-chain polymer, with a small amount of branching. The component sugars are β-(1→4)-linked D-mannose and D-glucose in a ratio of 1.6:1.[1] The degree of branching is about 8% through β-(1→6)-glucosyl linkages.

Glucomannan with α-(1→6)-linked galactose units in side branches is called galactoglucomannan.

Natural sources

Glucomannan comprises 40% by dry weight of the roots, or corm, of the konjac plant. It is also a hemicellulose that is present in large amounts in the wood of conifers and in smaller amounts in the wood of dicotyledons.

Potential health risk

A health advisory was released by Health Canada stating the following: "natural health products containing the ingredient glucomannan in tablet, capsule or powder form, which are currently on the Canadian market, have a potential for harm if taken without at least 8 ounces of water or other fluid. The risk to Canadians includes choking and/or blockage of the throat, esophagus or intestine, according to international adverse reaction case reports. It is also important to note that these products should NOT be taken immediately before going to bed."[2]

Potential health benefits

Constipation

Glucomannan is a soluble fiber, and as such, has been investigated for the treatment of constipation. Glucomannan may relieve constipation by decreasing fecal transit time.[3] In the treatment of chronic constipation, glucomannan significantly improved symptoms of constipation while being well-tolerated and free of relevant side effects.[4]

Cholesterol and other lipids

Glucomannan has demonstrated statistically significant improvements in the total cholesterol of obese patients.[5] In healthy men, 4 weeks of taking 3.9 grams of glucomannan decreased total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, triglycerides, and systolic blood pressure; notably, triglycerides dropped by 23%.[6] Glucomannan has also been tested in children with high cholesterol in conjunction with a diet. Interestingly, greater decreases in total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein were observed in female children when compared to male children.[7] When used in conjunction with chitosan, glucomannan decreases serum cholesterol possibly by increasing steroid excretion via the feces.[8]

Type 2 diabetes

Glucomannan may be useful as a therapeutic adjunct for type 2 diabetes. It has been shown to improve the lipid profile and alleviate the fasting blood glucose levels of type 2 diabetics.[9]

Weight Loss

In one study involving 200 obese subjects, Glucomannan or a placebo were given for 16 weeks. They found that Glucomannan & fiber group lost 4.52 kg on average compared to 0.79 of control group. The Glucomannan group also had increased satiety compared to control group. LDL cholesterol was significantly reduced as well during the 16 week period. The study also reported that the treatments were well tolerated, and did not report any side effects.[10]

An 8 week double blind trial involved 20 obese patients. A placebo or a glucomannan fiber supplement of 1 gram was given to the subjects one hour before each meal. No changes were made to the diet or exercise habits of the patients. The study found that over the 8 week period, cholesterol levels were significantly reduced, and the Glucomannan group had an average weight loss of 5.5 lbs.[5]

Commercial use

As a food additive, glucomannan is used as an emulsifier and thickener. It has E number E425(ii).

Dietary supplements

Glucomannan is an ingredient in a variety of dietary supplement products marketed via television advertisements claiming to aid in weight loss. According to the FTC, there are no clinical data supporting many of the claims[11][12] and several companies have been determined by the FTC or the FDA to have, at some time, violated the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act including Vitacost,[13] PediaLean,[14] Herbal Worldwide Holdings,[15] BioTrim,[16] and others. The company Obesity Research Institute, the marketer of FiberThin, Zylotrim, Propolene and Lipozene, settled FTC charges that their misleading weight-loss claims violated federal laws by agreeing to pay $1.5 million in consumer redress.[17]

In 2002, a number of products containing konjac-derived glucomannan were recalled as choking hazards.[18]

References

  1. ^ Kaname Katsuraya, Kohsaku Okuyamab, Kenichi Hatanakab, Ryuichi Oshimab, Takaya Satoc, and Kei Matsuzakic (2003). "Constitution of konjac glucomannan: chemical analysis and 13C NMR spectroscopy". Carbohydrate Polymers 53 (2): 183–189. doi:10.1016/S0144-8617(03)00039-0. 
  2. ^ Health Canada Advises Canadians that Natural Health Products containing Glucomannan May Cause Serious Choking if Used with Insufficient Fluid, Health Canada Advisory
  3. ^ Marzio L, Del Bianco R, Donne MD, Pieramico O, Cuccurullo F (August 1989). "Mouth-to-cecum transit time in patients affected by chronic constipation: effect of glucomannan". Am. J. Gastroenterol. 84 (8): 888–91. PMID 2547312. 
  4. ^ Passaretti S, Franzoni M, Comin U, et al. (1991). "Action of glucomannans on complaints in patients affected with chronic constipation: a multicentric clinical evaluation". Ital J Gastroenterol 23 (7): 421–5. PMID 1742540. 
  5. ^ a b Walsh DE, Yaghoubian V, Behforooz A (1984). "Effect of glucomannan on obese patients: a clinical study". Int J Obes 8 (4): 289–93. PMID 6096282. 
  6. ^ Arvill A, Bodin L (March 1995). "Effect of short-term ingestion of konjac glucomannan on serum cholesterol in healthy men". Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 61 (3): 585–9. PMID 7872224. http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=7872224. 
  7. ^ Martino F, Martino E, Morrone F, Carnevali E, Forcone R, Niglio T (June 2005). "Effect of dietary supplementation with glucomannan on plasma total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic children". Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 15 (3): 174–80. doi:10.1016/j.numecd.2004.04.004. PMID 15955465. 
  8. ^ Gallaher DD, Gallaher CM, Mahrt GJ, et al. (October 2002). "A glucomannan and chitosan fiber supplement decreases plasma cholesterol and increases cholesterol excretion in overweight normocholesterolemic humans". J Am Coll Nutr 21 (5): 428–33. PMID 12356785. http://www.jacn.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=12356785. 
  9. ^ Chen HL, Sheu WH, Tai TS, Liaw YP, Chen YC (February 2003). "Konjac supplement alleviated hypercholesterolemia and hyperglycemia in type 2 diabetic subjects--a randomized double-blind trial". J Am Coll Nutr 22 (1): 36–42. PMID 12569112. http://www.jacn.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=12569112. 
  10. ^ Salas-Salvadó J, Farrés X, Luque X, Narejos S, Borrell M, Basora J, Anguera A, Torres F, Bulló M, Balanza R (2008). "Effect of two doses of a mixture of soluble fibres on body weight and metabolic variables in overweight or obese patients: a randomised trial.". Br J Nutr. PMID 18031592. 
  11. ^ Ads for Various Diet Supplements and Topical Gels Don’t Cut the Fat, Says the FTC, Federal Trade Commission
  12. ^ What are some of the questionable weight loss products?, United States Food and Drug Administration
  13. ^ Food and Drug Administration letter
  14. ^ Federal Trade Commission complaint
  15. ^ Federal Trade Commission complaint
  16. ^ Federal Trade Commission letter
  17. ^ FTC Settles Claims with Marketers of FiberThin and Propolene, Federal Trade Commission
  18. ^ U.S. FDA Konjac Candy Recalls - U.S. FDA konjac or glucomannan containing candy concerns and recalls

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