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what are raspberry ketones

What are raspberry ketones & what do they do?

23 Nov 2022 • 2 min read

Raspberry ketones….sounds like a dessert or some sort of sweet treat, doesn’t it?

They’re actually a type of supplement people take to help them lose weight, as well as help with hair loss-related issues, plus some other conditions.

What are raspberry ketones?

Raspberry ketone is a naturally-occurring substance that gives red raspberries their distinctive smell. It’s the same chemical that’s also found in:1

  1. Other fruit – such as kiwis, peaches, grapes and other types of berries (i.e. blackberries) other than raspberries
  2. Vegetables – including rhubarb
  3. The bark – of yew, maple and pine trees

So while raspberry ketones may be something you may not have heard of before, or sounds a bit scientific to you, it’s actually present in a lot more everyday things, food sources in particular, than you may initially think…

Natural raspberry ketones

Red raspberries are native to Europe, Northern Africa and Central Asia. They contain essential nutrients, such as beta-carotene and Vitamins A, E and C. Only very minimal amounts of raspberry ketone are actually found in the fruit (more on this below), which is why berry-flavoured foods tend to contain a synthetic form of raspberry ketone.2

Around 2010, scientists noticed raspberry ketone had a similar molecular structure to capsaicin, which is the chemical that’s responsible for giving chillies their fiery kick. Preliminary studies also suggested that capsaicin prevents weight gain. In light of these findings, scientists ran studies in mice and on human tissue to see if raspberry ketone also has the ability to influence weight gain.

Synthetic raspberry ketones

Raspberry ketone supplements, don’t contain raspberries (although it’s easily to automatically think that they do due to the fact they have ‘raspberry’ in their name).

In fact, the raspberry ketones that are used in supplements are synthetically made and aren’t natural. If you wanted to make natural raspberry ketone supplements, you’d need around 41kg to make a single dose, which is a) a lot of raspberries b) time-consuming and c) expensive to mass manufacture raspberry ketones.

Four incredible health benefits of raspberries

Learn more about how raspberries benefit the body, including their nutritional advantages and how much is recommended a day.

What are raspberry ketones good for?

Generally speaking, there are three main reasons why people take raspberry ketones. Some people take them to help with:4

  • Patchy hair loss

Patchy hair loss is also known as alopecia areata. It’s believed that applying a raspberry ketone solution to the scalp may increase hair growth for people who are experiencing patchy hair loss.

  • Male pattern baldness

Another form of hair loss, male pattern baldness, or androgenic alopecia, can potentially be eased by applying a raspberry ketone solution to the scalp, in the same way as patchy hair loss.

As well as being used to help with hair loss, according to the study in the Growth Hormone & IGF Research journal, raspberry ketones may also help combat the signs of ageing when applied directly to skin. Preliminary research carried out on 15 people over five months reported an improvement in their skin’s elasticity.5

  • Obesity

Initial research has found that taking a combination of raspberry ketones and Vitamin C may potentially help people lose weight and body fat. Meanwhile, the impact of taking raspberry ketones on their own for obesity has not yet been evidenced. It’s not until recently, that raspberry ketones have been taken to help with weight loss, which is the main reason why you may not have heard of them until now.6

  • The link between raspberries and brain health

Some research exists that has found that inflammation may contribute to dementia. Due to the fact raspberry ketones may reduce inflammation, it’s thought they may potentially be able to reduce the risk of dementia.7

As yet, there have been no studies that have shown the impact raspberries or raspberry ketones may have on people who already have dementia or the likelihood of developing it. But research has shown links between raspberries and Alzheimer’s Disease.8

The research focused on how ellagic acid, a phytochemical in raspberries, impacts the formation of amyloid plaques. People with Alzheimer’s typically have these plaques in their brains, and the plaques get worse as the disease progresses.

The study showed that ellagic acid might slow down the development of plaques.9 If this is the case, eating whole raspberries may be more beneficial than taking raspberry ketones as a supplement. However, more research is required to back up this claim.

Handpicked content: Best vitamins to support brain and memory

Do raspberry ketones help you lose weight?

That’s the million dollar question. Raspberry ketones reportedly work by helping break down the fat in cells, helping the body to burn fat faster overall.

It’s also believed that they can boost levels of the hormone, adiponectin, which helps regulate metabolism and balances out blood sugar levels.

People who are of a normal weight tend to have much more adiponectin in their bodies than people who are overweight. And the levels get higher the more weight people lose.

Research has also found that people who have low adiponectin levels are at a higher risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, and even heart disease.

However, taking raspberry ketones isn’t the only way to boost your adiponectin levels, exercising can increase them by 260% within the space of just a week. Coffee consumption has also been linked to higher levels of the hormone too. (For more on coffee/caffeine read, ‘Is caffeine good for you?’)

Do raspberry ketones put you in ketosis?

Ahh, yes, it’s understandable why people may think this. The name sounds very similar to ketosis and raspberry ketones are linked to losing weight.10

But they have no connection to ketosis or low carb diets, which work by forcing your body to burn fat and increase your blood levels of ketones. Neither do raspberry ketones have the same effect as low carb dieting on your body either.

Raspberry ketones and ketosis are two totally separate things. (To find out more about ketosis – what it is, why do it and more read, ‘What is ketosis?’)

Guide to weight loss pills and supplements

Your ultimate guide on weight loss pills & supplements, covering which ones to choose & when, as well as how & why to use them.

What are the side effects of raspberry ketone?

Very limited research involving the effects of raspberry ketones on humans currently exists. This means that it’s unclear how safe they are to take.

Some studies have found that ketones can possibly cause insomnia, heart palpitations, high blood pressure and anxiety.

It’s therefore highly advisable, if you are planning on taking these supplements, that you speak to your GP before doing so. This is particularly important if you are already taking medication, prescription drugs or herbal supplements.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take ketones, neither should children. They should also be avoided if you have diabetes. Raspberry ketones may also impact blood sugar levels, e.g. it may make it more difficult to control blood sugar levels in people taking medicines for diabetes.11

Ketones and other medication

There’s no clinical data on how raspberry ketones react with other medication either. Some research has been conducted, but there’s currently limited results to show how they may interact with other drugs. It’s therefore advised that taking ketones with other medication is unsafe.

If you would like to take them, it’s essential you seek medical advice first because there are no approved dosage guidelines in place at present.

You can always try a lower dose of raspberry ketones by eating raspberries rather than taking a supplement. This is deemed as being a safer way to try ketones because they are natural and contain minimal levels. However, as is the case with eating lots of fruit, eating excessive amounts of raspberries may cause diarrhoea.12

Feeling a bit more clear on raspberry ketones now? They’re something that’s seen an upsurge in popularity of late, but it’s best you do your research before taking them because scientific studies on how what they do to the human body are few and far between at present.

The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Last updated: 11 May 2021

Sources

  1. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1262/raspberry-ketone
  2. https://www.livescience.com/39972-raspberry-ketone-supplement-facts.html
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/do-raspberry-ketones-work
  4. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1262/raspberry-ketone
  5. https://www.livescience.com/39972-raspberry-ketone-supplement-facts.html
  6. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/do-raspberry-ketones-work#what-they-are
  7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0753332218334565
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4717884/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4717884/
  10. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/do-raspberry-ketones-work#functions
  11. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1262/raspberry-ketone
  12. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326272#dosage
 
bhupesh-panchal

Bhupesh Panchal

Author

Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate

Joined Holland & Barrett: April 2019

Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry

Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.

After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.
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