While there is no magic pill that can help you lose weight, vitamins, and minerals can help you slim down. When our body is low on vitamins and minerals, it leads to cravings as our body feels the need to replenish the vitamins it is missing. By keeping your nutrient levels recharged, you can keep your appetite under control and slim down.
We also know that what we eat can affect our metabolism. A faster metabolism burns more calories than a slower one. Vitamins and minerals also help us lose weight by keeping the metabolism working effectively. Here’s a list of some of the best vitamins and minerals to boost metabolism and help in weight loss.
1. B vitamins
B vitamins play a vital role by helping the body metabolize nutrients(carbohydrates, proteins, and fats), and converting the food eaten by us into energy. The B vitamins include –
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
- Vitamin B3 (niacin)
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
- Vitamin B7 (biotin)
- Vitamin B9 (folate)
- Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)
Vitamin B12 helps in the metabolism of proteins and fats. Vitamin B1 helps the body to metabolize fats, proteins, and carbs. When there are low levels of these vitamins in our body, our metabolism slows down, which makes it harder to lose weight. A healthy metabolism ensures that our body uses the nutrients for energy and does not store them as fats.
These B vitamins are also essential for healthy skin, blood cells, brain function, and to help normalize appetite. A 2015 study states that there is a link between thiamine deficiency and obesity. According to this study, thiamine deficiency was found in 15.5 to 29 % of obese people seeking bariatric surgery (1). Foods that contain B vitamins include –
- Lean meats and seafood
- Whole grains
- Fruits like bananas, apples, watermelon, and strawberries
- Vegetables like spinach, potatoes, and squash
- Nuts and seeds
You can also get B vitamins from fortified plant-based milk and fortified cereals. You can also take B vitamins in the form of supplements called vitamin B complex.
2. Vitamin D
We all are well aware of the importance of vitamin D for bone health. But do you know that lack of this vitamin can also lead to weight gain? Over the years, there have been several studies and research that have linked increased body fat to vitamin D deficiency. According to a 2012 study published in the Journal of women’s health, higher vitamin D levels are associated with lower weight gains, which suggests that low vitamin D levels may predispose to fat accumulation (2).
According to another study from VU University Medical Center and Leiden University Medical Center, Netherlands, there exists a strong relationship between increasing amounts of abdominal fat and lower levels of vitamin D (3). According to the researchers, this relationship points to the possible role of vitamin D in abdominal fat storage and function.
A 2011 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when overweight and obese people took calcium and vitamin D supplements, they lost more abdominal fat as compared to those who took a placebo (4). Though the sun is the best source of vitamin D, you can also get this vitamin from food sources. These include –
- Egg yolks
- Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines
- Cod liver oil
- Beef liver
- Fortified dairy
- Fortified plant-based milk
- Fortified cereals
- Some types of mushrooms
3. Vitamin C
We generally associate vitamin C with immune-boosting properties, but it is, quite beneficial for reducing stress and belly fat as well. According to Arizona State University, vitamin C status is inversely related to body mass. People with proper levels of vitamin C oxidize 30 percent more fat during moderate exercise than people with low levels of vitamin C.
People with low levels of vitamin C may be more resistant to fat mass loss (5). The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin C is 75 mg per day for women and 90 mg per day for men. The best sources of vitamin C include –
- Citrus fruits like orange, lemon, grapefruit
- Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, capsicums
- Other fruits like guava, papaya, cantaloupe, and strawberry
Calcium is essential for healthy metabolism, blood sugar control, and healthy bones. According to a 2010 study from Israel, both higher calcium intake and increased vitamin D are related to diet-induced weight loss (6). During another study that involved 259 diabetic patients, researchers concluded that a diet rich in calcium enhances weight reduction in patients with type 2 diabetes (7).
According to research from the Nutrition Institute at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, calcium stored in our fat cells plays a vital role in regulating the way fat is processed and stored in the body. The more calcium is there in the fat cells, the more fat the cell will burn, which improves weight loss. The foods rich in calcium include –
- Fortified cereals
- Dark leafy vegetables
- Fortified orange juice
Low iron levels mean low energy, which can affect your ability to exercise. Your inability to exercise can, in turn, affect your ability to lose weight and keep in off. We need iron for healthy growth, development, and metabolism. Our body needs iron for carrying oxygen in the red blood cells.
If a person has low levels of iron, they may not get enough oxygen in their muscles. These muscles, in turn, are then not able to burn fat for fuel very well. Though you can take iron supplements to deal with low levels of iron, it is better to consume iron-rich foods. Some of the best sources of iron are –
- Beans and lentils
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Whole grain
- Baked potatoes
- Fortified cereals
- Enriched bread
Magnesium plays several critical roles in the body. It helps in controlling blood glucose, regulating blood pressure, strengthening bones, and keeping the nervous system functioning well. Magnesium is also crucial for energy production and metabolism. It also helps in preventing bloating and water retention.
According to the National Institute of Health, men (19 to 30 years) should consume 400 mg of magnesium and women (19 to 30 years) should consume 310 mg of magnesium per day. There are several magnesium-rich foods. Some of the best magnesium-rich foods include –
- Dark leafy greens
- Whole grains
7. Green tea extract
Though green tea extracts are neither vitamins nor proteins, they are incredibly beneficial for weight loss. They contain antioxidants that can boost metabolism. Epigallocatechin gallate, the main antioxidant in green tea, inhibits the enzyme that breaks down the hormone norepinephrine. When this particular enzyme is inhibited, the amount of norepinephrine increases, which in turn increases fat breakdown.
According to a study from The University of Birmingham, the people who took green tea extracts before exercise burned 17 % more fats than those who did not take any extracts (9). According to another study from Dalhousie University, Canada, the catechins and caffeine in green tea reduced body weight in obese individuals by 2 pounds on an average (10).
Consult your doctor
While vitamins and minerals alone can’t do wonders to help you lose weight, when you pair them with the right diet and healthy lifestyle, they do boost your chances of losing weight. We need vitamins and minerals for various processes inside our body. Without an adequate supply of these vital nutrients, our body will not function properly, which in turn will slow down the weight loss process. When we supply our body with adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals, our body works at top capacity and boosts our weight loss efforts.
Ensure that you eat a healthy and balanced diet and supplement it with these nutrients. However, you must consult without our doctor before you start taking any of these supplements. Your doctor can recommend the adequate amount of supplements for you. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or are taking medication for diabetes, heart disease, or blood pressure, you must check with your doctor before taking any new supplements. In case you feel any side effects, stop taking these supplements at once and check with your doctor.
Vitamins and minerals play a vital role in weight loss. They help boost metabolism, boost energy levels, and provide nutrition, which helps reduce cravings. However, they are not a miracle cure for weight loss. They work when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Vitamin B complex, vitamin C, vitamin D, iron, calcium, magnesium, and green tea extract help in weight loss. Ensure that you consume enough foods that are rich in these nutrients. You can also take supplements for these vitamins and minerals, but you must consult with your doctor before you do that. Your doctor will recommend the correct dosage and ensure that it does not interact with any medications that you may be taking. Taking high doses of some supplements can also lead to side effects.