Chitosan is a fiber product derived from the exoskeleton (or chitin) of shrimp, lobsters, and crabs. Chitosan was developed by scientists in Norway as an aid in weight loss. It is a naturally occurring fat inhibitor that entraps fat in the intestine and binds as much as 4 to 6 times its weight in ingested fat. Once this fat is bound, it is unusable by the body. It is important to remember that even a modest weight loss can reduce a person's risk of heart disease and cancer.
Scientists have also processed chitin so that it has a high binding (absorption) affinity for cholesterol in the digestive tract. Since cholesterol is normally secreted with the bile and reabsorbed in the intestine, fibers like chitosan can help remove cholesterol from inside of the body. The absorbed fat and cholesterol are excreted through the bowel, improving bowel function.
Studies show that ascorbic acid (vitamin C) helps activate chitosan in the stomach and intestine into a fat-absorbing gel. When ascorbic acid was given with chitosan to rats, far more fat was trapped and excreted in the feces than when chitosan was given without ascorbic acid to enhance the fat-absorbing effects of chitosan. Buffered or mineral ascorbates will not work as well.