A Guide to Apple Cider Vinegar Supplements
You’ve probably heard that apple cider vinegar is good for you. But what are apple cider vinegar supplements and how do they work?
Consuming apple cider vinegar for health and wellbeing dates back centuries and is still used today. Popular in the natural health world, apple cider vinegar supplements look to support and aid weight loss while providing other benefits to the body.
In this guide to apple cider vinegar supplements, we will be discussing the following topics:
- What are apple cider vinegar supplements?
- The history of apple cider vinegar supplements
- The benefits of apple cider vinegar supplements
- When is the best time to take apple cider vinegar supplements?
- Potential side effects of apple cider vinegar supplements
- Warnings, cautions and potential interactions of apple cider vinegar supplements
What are Apple Cider Vinegar Supplements?
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is made by fermenting apples with yeast and bacteria. It’s made in a two-step process, similar to how alcohol is made. The first stage exposes crushed apples to yeast, which ferments the sugar and turns it into alcohol. In the next step, bacteria are added to the alcohol solution which ferments the alcohol into acetic acid, the main active compound in vinegar.
The supplements in capsule form contain a dehydrated version of the vinegar. Not everyone is accustomed to apple cider vinegar’s strong taste, and taking it as a supplement avoids the acidic taste. Apple cider vinegar is an excellent source of bioactive ingredients, the most important two being acetic acid and malic acid. So, what are these two compounds?
- Acetic acid - this is created by adding bacteria to fermenting apple alcohol.
- Malic acid - this is found naturally in fruits such as apples, tomatoes, and cherries but is found in higher concentrations in AVC.
The majority of apple cider vinegar’s health benefits comes from these bioactive ingredients. Potential health benefits of ACV supplements are mainly based on studies carried out on liquid apple cider vinegar and its main active compound, acetic acid. Although ACV doesn’t contain many vitamins and minerals, it does contain a small amount of potassium.
The History of Apple Cider Vinegar Supplements
Apple cider vinegar has a long history of being used as a natural remedy. It’s been traditionally used for disinfecting and cleaning, treating nail fungus, lice, and warts. Apple cider vinegar has been used medicinally for thousands of years to treat a variety of ailments including mushroom poisoning, toothache, dandruff, purifying the blood and detoxifying the liver.
While the versatility of vinegar in the kitchen has long been known and used, it was Hippocrates around 400 BC who first started prescribing vinegar for illnesses and preventative needs. Today, ACV has re-entered the spotlight and has gained traction in the natural health world for its overall benefits to wellbeing.
The Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar Supplements
Apple cider vinegar supplements have a number of potent-health benefits that have caused it to rise in popularity. Here are seven health benefits of apple cider vinegar supplements.
- Aid Weight Loss and Boost Metabolism
According to charity Obesity Canada, one in four adults and one in ten children in Canada, meaning roughly six million Canadians, are now living with excess weight. Individuals living with obesity are at a higher risk of developing certain health conditions including:
- High blood sugar or diabetes
- Bone and joint problems
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Coronary heart disease, stroke, and heart failure
There’s been a lot of buzz around apple cider vinegar in the natural health world for its ability to aid weight loss. One thing to note is that there is limited research on the effects of apple cider vinegar pills specifically as the majority of research carried out has looked at the effects of liquid apple cider vinegar or acetic acid, the main active ingredient in ACV.
One study found that participants who consumed two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar every day for two weeks experienced nearly four pounds of weight loss. During the 12-week time period, participants made no changes to their diet or lifestyle.
Studies also show that apple cider vinegar may increase feelings of fullness. This can help to reduce food intake and aid in weight loss. Another study found that drinking apple cider vinegar decreased the total intake of calories per day by up to 275 calories. In another small study, participants who took apple cider vinegar alongside a starchy meal experienced significantly slowed stomach emptying.
Some animal studies show that apple cider vinegar may support weight loss in a number of different ways including improving the metabolism. A study in rats that were exposed to acetic acid showed an increase in the enzyme AMPK. This enzyme boosts fat burning and decreases sugar and fat production in the liver.
- Suppress Appetite and Reduce Belly Fat
One of the ways apple cider vinegar supports weight loss is its potential to suppress appetite. Although there isn’t a miracle cure for weight loss, apple cider vinegar may help to support you on your weight loss journey. Researchers believe that apple cider vinegar may increase the body’s ability to burn fat by increasing the levels of acetate in your blood. Acetate is a molecule that is made from acetic acid.
One study suggests that acetate may help to suppress the parts of the brain that control appetite. In turn, this can lead to a reduction in food intake. A study of 175 people with obesity found that daily consumption of apple cider vinegar results in reduced belly fat and weight loss.
Research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association involving about 500,000 people found that excess belly fat presented more danger in women. Evidence suggests that apple cider vinegar could be useful as a weight loss aid due to its ability to suppress appetite, boost metabolism and burn fat.
- Lower Cholesterol Levels and Promote Heart Health
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that can be found in your blood. It can build up in your arteries and cause them to become narrow and hardened. High levels of cholesterol in the body can lead to an increased risk of heart disease. Heart disease is currently the leading cause of premature death globally. High cholesterol can run in families but the majority of cases are caused by environmental factors such as:
- Eating fatty foods
- Not exercising enough
- Being overweight
- Smoking and drinking alcohol
Apple cider vinegar may help to promote heart health by lowering cholesterol. Several animal studies suggest that apple cider vinegar can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as several other risk factors for heart disease. One observational study from Harvard found that women who consumed salad dressings with vinegar had a lower risk of developing heart disease.
Another animal study found that rats supplementing apple cider vinegar showed reduced bad LDL cholesterol while also increasing beneficial cholesterol. Several studies suggest that ACV may lower bad cholesterol levels, supporting overall heart health.
- May Control Blood Sugar and Aid Diabetes
In 2017, 7.3% of Canadians 12 and older reported being diagnosed with diabetes, the equivalent of roughly 2.3 million people. Globally, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. Almost half of all deaths that occur as a result of high blood glucose take place before the age of 70.
High blood sugar levels, also known as hypoglycemia, can be dangerous if left unchecked for prolonged periods of time. Managing blood sugar levels is of particular importance for people with diabetes. This is because individuals with diabetes can face serious complications suddenly due to unstable blood sugar levels. However, high blood sugar isn’t just a problem for those with diabetes and is believed to a major cause of ageing and numerous chronic conditions.
Over time, high blood sugar levels can lead to several health conditions such as:
- Kidney failure
- Heart attacks and strokes
- Foot ulcers and infections
- Vision impairment and blindness
- Damage to the nervous system
In one study vinegar was found to decrease blood sugar levels by an average of 31% after consuming white bread. Another study in rats showed similar results. Researchers found that diabetic rats who were given apple cider vinegar over four weeks had significantly reduced blood sugar levels. Further research found that two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before going to sleep can reduce fasting blood glucose in the morning by 4%.
- Reduce Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. High blood pressure, or hypertension, can slowly damage your body over years without presenting any real symptoms initially. There are some underlying diseases that can cause high blood pressure however other factors that can contribute to it include:
- Family history
Blood pressure is read in two numbers, the top number is the systolic pressure. This is the rate at which your heart pumps blood throughout the body. The bottom number is the diastolic pressure. This refers to your blood pressure when your heart is between beats. The American Heart Association considers blood pressure to be in a normal range when the top number is between 90 and less than 120 and the bottom number is between 60 and less than 80.
Hypertension affected one in four Canadian adults between 2012 and 2015. Despite Canada’s rates of hypertension awareness, control and treatment being some of the highest in the world, high blood pressure is still an issue. It’s predicted that by 2020 costs attributable to high blood pressure will amount to $20.5 billion in Canada.
Apple cider vinegar may benefit blood pressure levels, keeping your heart strong and supporting overall health. An animal study in Japan showed that when rats were given acetic acid, the main active ingredient in apple cider vinegar, researchers found reduced levels of blood pressure. Another study found similar results, showing that vinegar blocked the actions of a certain enzyme which increases blood pressure.
As more research is carried out into the effects of apple cider vinegar supplements, heart health and high blood pressure, the precise mechanism of ACV may come to light as well as other potential benefits.
- May Have Anti-Cancer Properties
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in Canada followed by cardiovascular disease and chronic respiratory diseases. Although the overall risk of dying from cancer is decreasing, the number of cancer cases and deaths continue to rise. The top three most common types of cancer are lung and breast cancer, followed by colorectal cancer.
Apple cider vinegar may have protective abilities against cancer. Studies have shown that various types of vinegar can shrink tumours and even kill cancer cells. However, so far these studies have been carried out in test tubes or on animals which means that more research needs to be carried out in humans in order to fully understand its effect on cancer.
- Help to Detox and Cleanse
Apple cider vinegar has been historically used to help cleanse and detox the body. ACV may help to balance pH levels in the body and encourage lymphatic drainage, making it a powerful ally when it comes to detoxification.
Evidence suggests that apple cider vinegar can boost the immune system, help with weight loss and aid in the removal of toxins all of which can help to cleanse the body and support optimum health. By detoxing the body and removing unwanted toxins, you can improve your overall health and promote weight loss.
When is the Best Time to Take Apple Cider Vinegar Supplements
Due to there being less research on apple cider vinegar supplements there isn’t a standardized recommendation for dosage and timing. When it comes to liquid apple cider vinegar, the research suggests that 1-2 tablespoons (15-30ml) per day diluted in water appears to be safe and has the most benefits.
The majority of apple cider vinegar capsules appear to recommend similar amounts. Consuming apple cider vinegar in pill form is a good way to gain the benefits without the acidic taste. In terms of dosage and timing, always follow the instructions on the packing of ACV supplements.
Potential Side Effects of Apple Cider Vinegar Supplements
Apple cider vinegar supplements are generally considered safe however there are a few side effects, warnings and potential interactions to keep in mind. Due to apple cider vinegar’s main ingredient, acetic acid, supplements may be acidic. Acetic acid may cause adverse effects and consuming larger quantities may increase the likelihood of negative effects. Side effects of acetic acid can include:
- Throat irritation
- Stomach upset
In a single case evaluating the safety of apple cider vinegar tablets, one woman experienced throat irritation and difficulty swallowing six months after an ACV pill got stuck in her throat. The active ingredients in cider vinegar tablets may lead to low levels of potassium in the blood resulting in a condition known as hypokalemia. Hypokalemia can cause symptoms such as:
- Muscle weakness
- Abnormal heart rate
Some studies suggest that ingesting apple cider vinegar may lead to throat irritation, stomach upset and low potassium, however, it’s uncertain if all of these effects are the same for supplements. But, as the main ingredient is the same, it’s important to consider these potential negative side effects.
Warnings, Cautions and Potential Interactions of Apple Cider Vinegar Supplements
Apple cider vinegar supplements are safe to use for most adults. Although considered safe, there are some people who should be careful when it comes to apple cider vinegar supplements. As ACV may lower potassium levels if you’re currently on medication that lowers potassium such as diuretics which are commonly used to treat high blood pressure then you should avoid taking ACV supplements.
Vinegar can also cause alterations to insulin levels which means any individuals with diabetes or are taking blood sugar medication should take careful consideration and consult their doctor before using apple cider vinegar. ACV may also interact with medications that treat diabetes, heart disease, laxatives and diuretics, medicines that help to rid the body of water. This list of medications is not exhaustive so always consult your doctor before taking any supplements if needed.
As more research is carried out, the precise mechanisms and potential health benefits of apple cider vinegar supplements will continue to be explored. For those that can’t tolerate the acidic taste of apple cider vinegar, taking a supplement is a perfect option. Apple cider vinegar supplements are a great addition to a well-balanced diet and look to support healthy weight loss and blood sugar levels.