Apple cider vinegar has been getting a lot of media attention in the past few years as a weight loss supplement. However, many people find the taste and smell of apple cider vinegar absolutely unbearable. And that’s understandable: vinegar has a strong, pungent odor that’s hard to ignore.
So to get the benefit of apple cider vinegar without having to drink it, many supplement companies have released pills containing dehydrated apple cider vinegar. But not every supplement is the same. There are various things you should keep in mind when considering apple cider vinegar pills.
In this blog post, I’ll be going over the unique benefits of apple cider vinegar, the various enhancements that can improve the impact of the pill form, some of the risks to be aware of, and exactly how to take the pills.
First, while we’ve discussed the benefits of apple cider vinegar in a previous blog post, we’ll cover some of the main benefits here for good measure.
Growing research shows many promising benefits of apple cider vinegar:
One of the most widely referenced studies on apple cider vinegar is a 2009 study by Tomoo Kondo et al., which showed a significant link between apple cider vinegar intake and reductions in body weight, body fat, and serum triglyceride levels (1).
In obesity, body weight, body fat, and serum triglycerides are all elevated. However, this study showed that even while controlling for diet and lifestyle variability, apple cider vinegar reduced body weight, body fat, and serum triglycerides. This suggests that apple cider vinegar could be used as an adjunct therapy for weight loss on top of diet and exercise.
Inflammation is likely responsible for all sorts of diseases such as coronary artery disease, diabetes, cancer, gout, and Alzheimer’s (2). So anything that can reduce the level of inflammation in your body is worth exploring.
A 2009 study by F. Shen et al. showed a link between vinegar and inflammation reduction. By inhibiting specific inflammatory pathways, vinegar was shown to reduce the inflammation seen in ulcerative colitis (3). While more research needs to be done to clarify whether this effect can be observed across various manifestations of inflammation, there’s promising evidence that vinegar reduces inflammation, particularly in the presence of disease.
By now, most people know eating bread will spike their blood sugar. Bread also does very little to help you feel satisfied and full. Even whole grain bread will still affect your blood sugar as much as pasta or even watermelon (4). That’s what makes this next study so interesting.
In a 2005 study by E. Ostman et al., they found that eating white bread with vinegar actually reduced post-meal blood sugar and insulin control while also improving satiety (5). In this human study, they found that the more vinegar the subjects ate, the more satisfied they were with their meals. They also found that as vinegar intake increased, blood glucose dropped.
Therefore, apple cider vinegar seems to be a valid way to control post-meal glucose and satiety.
High levels of triglycerides or cholesterol in the blood can lead to a host of problems including high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. But the list of medications to treat high triglycerides and high cholesterol can become lengthy and burdensome. That’s why apple cider vinegar is being investigated as a treatment option.
In a 2006 study by T. Fushimi et al., they found that vinegar taken as a dietary supplement lowered serum triglycerides and cholesterol (6). They believe the mechanism of action was the ability of vinegar to slow down the creation of new fat cells in the liver.
A later study in 2008 by F. Shishehbor et al. also came to the conclusion that vinegar improved serum lipid levels including triglycerides, LDL, and HDL levels (7).
These studies suggest that apple cider vinegar can help control your lipids similarly to conventional drugs. That said, always consult with your doctor before using apple cider vinegar as a way to manage your lipids.
Now that we’ve discussed the many benefits of apple cider vinegar, let’s answer another question: why would you use apple cider vinegar pills over the liquid form?
To understand why apple cider vinegar pills became a popular choice, you have to understand the downsides of drinking the liquid form, such as:
One 2012 article by DL Gambon discussed a case study of a 15-year old girl who had been diagnosed with tooth erosion from the daily intake of liquid apple cider vinegar (8). While it’s unclear whether she was taking it straight or diluted with water, tooth erosion is a known side effect of ingesting liquid forms of vinegar.
Some people have reported that liquid vinegar reduces your potassium levels (9). It’s not clear exactly how much vinegar you have to ingest to notice a decrease in your potassium levels. However, if you already have a condition that lowers your potassium levels, you should consult with a doctor before using apple cider vinegar.
Finally, we can all agree that vinegar has a strong odor and taste. And not everyone likes that. So the idea of ingesting vinegar as a drink isn’t appealing for many people, even if it does have a host of health benefits.
That’s where the pill form comes in.
Many companies created apple cider vinegar pills to help consumers receive health benefits while avoiding the risks of drinking the liquid form.
With the pill form, you can:
When you ingest the pill form, the apple cider vinegar doesn’t come in contact with your teeth. You never have to worry about tooth erosion because no direct contact is happening. Also, since the supplement is in pill form, you can altogether avoid the taste and smell.
Another important benefit is that you can take it wherever you go. It can be cumbersome to prepare a diluted form of the apple cider vinegar to take on the go. With the pill form, you can throw it in your bag or car and take it anywhere.
Another great reason to use apple cider vinegar pills is that many companies have paired it with synergistic herbs and spices. Two essential substances can improve an apple cider vinegar supplement: cinnamon and cayenne pepper.
Cinnamon has been used to treat everything from cancer to toothaches (10). It’s a versatile herb that has been well-researched.
Cinnamon (along with cloves and oregano) contain the highest levels of antioxidants among 26 other spice extracts (11). So instead of reaching straight for the blueberries for an antioxidant boost, you should first consider adding some cinnamon to your meals to avoid the excess sugar.
Cinnamon can also reduce inflammation in certain age-related conditions. A 2015 study by D. Gunawardena et al. showed that when the target concentration of cinnamon was reached, specific inflammatory markers decreased in response (12).
Cinnamon also works hand and hand with apple cider vinegar in a critical way: by improving insulin resistance. A 2010 study by Bolin Qin et al. showed that in patients with metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and polycystic ovarian syndrome, cinnamon was shown to improve insulin sensitivity and control glucose levels (13). When apple cider vinegar and cinnamon are combined, it results in a powerhouse supplement to improve insulin resistance.
Finally, there’s also evidence that cinnamon can inhibit tau formation (a protein that accumulates in the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient). A 2009 study by D.W. Peterson showed that cinnamon was responsible for the inhibition of tau in vitro (14). More research needs to be done, but that said, reducing tau is the holy grail of Alzheimer’s research and these early results warrant further investigation.
Apple cider vinegar with cayenne pepper is a powerhouse combo for weight management—and even for anti-cancer effects.
Multiple studies show that capsaicin (the active ingredient in cayenne pepper) can help you lose weight in a number of ways such as promoting fat oxidation, increasing energy expenditure, increasing core temperature, controlling appetite, and increasing satiety (15, 16, 17, 18). When combined with apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper is an ideal companion for more significant weight loss benefits.
Interestingly, capsaicin has also shown to be beneficial in pain management. A 1995 study by J. Winter et al. discussed the benefit of using a capsaicin nasal spray to treat cluster headaches (19). While dosages for the optimal pain management effect are still under investigation, the capsaicin component of cayenne pepper seems to have analgesic properties.
Finally, capsaicin has also shown strong anti-cancer properties. A 2015 study by Ruth Clark & Seong Ho-Lee showed that capsaicin prevents cancer by initiating targeted cell death, preventing the formation of blood vessels in tumors, and preventing the spread of cancer cells throughout the body (20).
While apple cider vinegar pills are a great alternative to the liquid form, some caution is warranted.
Vitamins and supplements aren’t regulated to the same extent as commercial drugs, so it’s important to find a brand that addresses any potential safety concerns.
While the current consensus deems dietary vinegar perfectly safe to consume, there are vast differences among various products.
The acetic acid concentration of many products varied widely in one 2005 study (21). There were also labeling inconsistencies among the brands. However, in the 13 years since the study, consumers have been reading labels more so than ever before, so many companies have become more transparent in their labeling.
The key takeaway here is that while many apple cider vinegar pills are safe to take, you should always do your due diligence and only purchase supplements from brands you trust.
In the final section, I’ll discuss the best way to take apple cider vinegar pills as part of your daily supplement routine once you’ve found a brand that meets your standards.
So now that you have a broad overview of apple cider vinegar pills, here’s how to include it in your diet:
While there’s no set dosage recommendation at this time, most people who use it successfully take about 1–4 teaspoons of the liquid form 2–3 times a day with meals. Many pill brands sell concentrations at 285–1500mg per serving, which falls into the same concentration as 1–4 teaspoons of the liquid form.
Many of the studies showing glucose control and satiety improvements used acetic acid during meals, so it makes sense to take your apple cider vinegar pill during meals as well. Since the concentration of the pill may be more potent than the diluted liquid form, it’s prudent to pair it with meals to avoid any gastrointestinal discomfort.
There are no magic pills for weight loss. Anyone who tells you otherwise is up to something. Taking apple cider vinegar pills do have a definite weight loss benefit—but don’t neglect diet and exercise. Remember: apple cider vinegar is a catalyst. You can’t take the pill, still eat terrible food, never exercise, and hope to lose weight. The people who see the most significant benefits with apple cider vinegar use it along with a proper diet and a regular exercise routine.
Apple cider vinegar has many great health benefits, but taking the liquid form is difficult for a variety of reasons as outlined above. Luckily, many companies are now creating pills, so you can still get the benefit of apple cider vinegar without the potential side effects. While one form isn’t necessarily better than the other, using the pill form is an excellent alternative if you don’t care to drink the diluted liquid.
Finally, you should always take apple cider vinegar pills as part of a total weight loss plan that includes diet and exercise. There’s no magic ride in weight loss, but apple cider vinegar can potentially get you there faster.