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buff girl liftingHydroxycitric acid (HCA) is extracted from the rinds of the garcinia cambogia fruit, which is also known as malabar tamarind. The dried rinds of garcinia cambogia have been used for hundreds of years in Southeastern Asia as a condiment for its sour flavor and to make meals more satiating. The benefits of supplementing with hydroxycitric acid include reduced appetite, fat loss, and stable blood sugar levels.

Hydroxycitric acid has been shown to support serotonin levels in rats. In vitro research has shown hydroxycitric acid to act as a serotonin re-uptake inhibitor and also to increase the availability of serotonin. It is unknown if this effect actually translates to humans. If so, heightened serotonin levels may be a contributing factor to the appetite controlling effect of hydroxycitric acid. Heightened serotonin levels could provide other benefits as well such as alleviating depression and improving sleep quality.

Hydroxycitric acid may also help burn more fat and less muscle while dieting. Hydroxycitric acid has been shown to increase lipolysis during exercise, and to cause more fat and less glucose to be burned during exercise. Hydroxycitric acid also appears to prevent fat gain when an individual is consistently taking in a surplus of calories.

The blood sugar balancing effect of hydroxycitric acid is a result of its ability to delay the absorption of glucose in the intestines. Not only does hydroxycitric acid balance blood sugar for better utilization of carbohydrates, but it also may actually be able to increase the ability of skeletal muscle and the liver to store glycogen.

While hydroxycitric acid is typically used as a fat loss supplement, some of its benefits apply to those wishing to build muscle or improve general health. Research has shown hydroxycitric acid to be a safe and effective supplement.


1. Onakpoya I, Hung SK, Perry R, Wider B, & Ernst E. (2011). The Use of Garcinia Extract (Hydroxycitric Acid) as a Weight loss Supplement: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Clinical Trials. Journal of Obesity (Online). 2011, 509038.

2. Roy S, Shah H, Rink C, Khanna S, Bagchi D, Bagchi M, & Sen CK. (2007). Transcriptome of primary adipocytes from obese women in response to a novel hydroxycitric acid-based dietary supplement. DNA and Cell Biology. 26(9), 627-39.

3. Louter-van de Haar J, Wielinga PY, Scheurink AJ, & Nieuwenhuizen AG. (2005). Comparison of the effects of three different (-)-hydroxycitric acid preparations on food intake in rats. Nutrition & Metabolism. 2, 23.

4. Talpur N, Echard BW, Yasmin T, Bagchi D, & Preuss HG. (2003). Effects of niacin-bound chromium, Maitake mushroom fraction SX and (-)-hydroxycitric acid on the metabolic syndrome in aged diabetic Zucker fatty rats. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. 252(1-2), 369-77.

5. Shara M, Ohia SE, Schmidt RE, Yasmin T, Zardetto-Smith A, Kincaid A, Bagchi M, Chatterjee A, Bagchi D, & Stohs SJ. (2004). Physico-chemical properties of a novel (-)-hydroxycitric acid extract and its effect on body weight, selected organ weights, hepatic lipid peroxidation and DNA fragmentation, hematology and clinical chemistry, and histopathological changes over a period of 90 days. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. 260(1-2), 171-86.

6. Ohia SE, Opere CA, LeDay AM, Bagchi M, Bagchi D, & Stohs SJ. (2002). Safety and mechanism of appetite suppression by a novel hydroxycitric acid extract (HCA-SX). Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. 238(1-2), 89-103.

7. Ohia SE, Awe SO, LeDay AM, Opere CA, & Bagchi D. (2001). Effect of hydroxycitric acid on serotonin release from isolated rat brain cortex. Research Communications in Molecular Pathology and Pharmacology. 109(3-4), 210-6.

8. Jena BS, Jayaprakasha GK, Singh RP, & Sakariah KK. (2002). Chemistry and biochemistry of (-)-hydroxycitric acid from Garcinia. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 50(1), 10-22.

9. Preuss HG, Rao CV, Garis R, Bramble JD, Ohia SE, Bagchi M, & Bagchi D. (2004). An overview of the safety and efficacy of a novel, natural(-)-hydroxycitric acid extract (HCA-SX) for weight management. Journal of Medicine. 35(1-6), 33-48.

10. Wielinga PY, Wachters-Hagedoorn RE, Bouter B, van Dijk TH, Stellaard F, Nieuwenhuizen AG, Verkade HJ, & Scheurink AJ. (2005). Hydroxycitric acid delays intestinal glucose absorption in rats. American Journal of Physiology. Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology. 288(6), G1144-9.

11. Lim K, Ryu S, Nho HS, Choi SK, Kwon T, Suh H, So J, Tomita K, Okuhara Y, & Shigematsu N. (2003). (-)-Hydroxycitric acid ingestion increases fat utilization during exercise in untrained women. Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology. 49(3), 163-7.

12. Shara M, Ohia SE, Yasmin T, Zardetto-Smith A, Kincaid A, Bagchi M, Chatterjee A, Bagchi D, & Stohs SJ. (2003). Dose- and time-dependent effects of a novel (-)-hydroxycitric acid extract on body weight, hepatic and testicular lipid peroxidation, DNA fragmentation and histopathological data over a period of 90 days. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. 254(1-2), 339-46.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cassie is a chemistry major and national level bodybuilder. Questions or comments? Talk to Cassie on the FORUM or on FACEBOOK.

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website reflects the opinion of our staff and manufacturer’s and should not be interpreted as medical advice. The information is not unbiased or independent and is the opinion of the owners of The descriptions and statements accompanying these products and vitamin supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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