Chitosan is a polysaccharide found in the shells of crustaceans.

What Are Star Ratings?

This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for Why
3 Stars
High Cholesterol
Refer to label instructions
Chitosan is a fiber-like supplement that has been shown to lower cholesterol and raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol).

The fiber-like supplement appears to reduce the absorption of bile acids or cholesterol; either of these effects may cause a lowering of blood cholesterol. This effect has been repeatedly demonstrated in animals, and a preliminary human study showed that 3 to 6 grams per day of chitosan taken for two weeks resulted in a 6% drop in cholesterol and a 10% increase in HDL ("good") cholesterol. Another preliminary trial showed a 43% lowering of total cholesterol in people being treated for kidney failure with dialysis who took 4 grams per day of chitosan for 12 weeks. These people also appeared to have improved kidney function and less severe anemia after chitosan treatment. In a double-blind trial, however, administration of 2.4 grams of chitosan per day for three months to people with high cholesterol had no effect on their cholesterol levels. Another study also found no cholesterol-lowering effect of chitosan when taken in amounts up to 6.75 grams per day for 8 weeks.

Chitosan in large amounts, given with vitamin C, has been shown to reduce dietary fat absorption in animals fed a high-fat diet. However, the absorption of minerals and fat-soluble vitamins was also reduced by feeding animals large amounts of chitosan. In studies in humans, chitosan did not reduce the absorption of dietary fat.

3 Stars
1 to 3 grams per day
Chitosan is type of fiber that has been shown to have a small positive impact on weight loss.
Chitosan is a fiber extracted from the shells of crustaceans such as shrimp and crab or the cell walls of fungi. It is sometimes used in the food industry as a thickener and emulsifier. In a placebo-controlled trial, 96 subjects with overweight and obesity took 2.5 grams of chitosan per day or placebo for 90 days. Despite having similar calorie intake, those in the chitosan group lost an average of 3.1 kg (almost 7 pounds) while those in the placebo group had no significant change in body weight. In addition, the chitosan group had decreased body fat, abdominal fat, and waist circumference, had reductions in high HgA1c (a marker of glucose regulation), and reported improved quality of life. Two meta-analyses, one that included data from 14 randomized controlled trials with a combined total of 1,101 participants and another that included data from 15 trials with 1,130 participants, showed chitosan mildly reduces body weight and body fat in individuals with overweight or obesity. Findings from another trial suggest taking 2 grams per day of vitamin C along with 3 grams per day of chitosan may induce greater weight loss than chitosan alone. Chitosan has been shown to reduce fat absorption in laboratory animals, but controlled human trials have found chitosan has little to no impact on fat absorption. Although more research is needed to understand how chitosan induces weight loss, one possibility is that, as a prebiotic fiber, it may alter the gut microbiome composition in ways that promote healthy metabolism.

How It Works

How to Use It

Most human research has used 3–6 grams per day with meals.

Where to Find It

Chitosan is extracted from the shells of crustaceans, such as shrimp and crab.

Possible Deficiencies

Chitosan is not an essential nutrient, so deficiencies do not occur.


Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

While no long-term studies of the effects of chitosan on human health have been done, animal studies suggest that this compound could inhibit the absorption of minerals and fat-soluble vitamins.

Interactions with Medicines

As of the last update, we found no reported interactions between this supplement and medicines. It is possible that unknown interactions exist. If you take medication, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a new supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.

Side Effects

Side Effects

Adverse effects on the growth of children and on the outcome of pregnancy are possible.1 In addition, although chitosan-included alterations in intestinal flora are believed to be beneficial, the possibility that these changes may have negative long-term consequences has not been ruled out. People with intestinal malabsorption syndromes should not use chitosan.


1. Koide SS. Chitin-chitosan: properties, benefits and risks. Nutr Res 1998;18:1091-101 [review].

Disclaimer: The information contained in this website, and its associated websites, is provided as a benefit to the local community, and the Internet community in general; it does not constitute medical advice. We try to provide quality information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website and its associated sites. As medical advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each patient and healthcare is constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of a competent physician. Furthermore, in providing this service, Adventist HealthCare does not condone or support all of the content covered in this site. As an Adventist health care organization, Adventist HealthCare acts in accordance with the ethical and religious directives for Adventist health care services.

Find a Doctor

Find an Adventist HealthCare affiliated doctor by calling our FREE physician referral service at 800-642-0101 or by searching our online physician directory.

View Doctors

Set Your Location

Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.