If you’ve found yourself waging war against your waistline, you’re not alone. Research conducted by the CDC found that among the adult population in the U.S., 39.8% of Americans were considered overweight or obese. That number jumped to 42.8% for 40 to 59 year-olds, indicating a scale-tipping trend for middle-aged adults.
If you’re one of the 1.9 billion Americans currently struggling to manage your weight, it’s important to do all that you can to take back control of your health. Maintaining a body mass index above a healthy level puts you at a greater risk for developing dangerous weight-related diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and even certain types of cancers.
While you may be privy to many of the standard suggestions for weight loss, including diet and exercise, there is another fat-loss factor that many of us often overlook: our vitamin and mineral intake. As the data continues to pile in revealing a steady rise in the number of overweight individuals in our country, research has begun to explore how certain vitamins and minerals affect our ability to manage our weight. Several micronutrients have been shown to help positively regulate weight and body fat composition, offering benefits that range from increasing metabolism, reducing appetite, and stabilizing blood sugar. Today, we’re exploring vitamins and minerals that are proven to be effective for weight loss and weight management.
One of the main functions of the B vitamins is the energy conversion of food. These vitamins, which include thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folate (B9), and cobalamin (B12) all work to break down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats from our diet and convert these macronutrients into a useable fuel. This process is directly related to the speed of our metabolism, meaning that a deficiency in any one of the B vitamins could result in a lower metabolic rate. Not only does a slower metabolism make it more difficult to keep our weight in check, but it also leads to feelings of tiredness and fatigue. Indirectly, this can contribute to weight-related problems, since a sluggish individual is far less likely to participate in any type of physical activity compared to someone who’s feeling properly fueled.
Of the B vitamins, vitamin B12, thiamine, and niacin have been shown to play a particularly crucial role in metabolism and weight management. Vitamin B12 is directly related to protein and fat metabolism and requires vitamin B6 to carry out this essential function. A deficiency in B12 can lead to a condition called megaloblastic anemia, which causes fatigue and weakness, both symptoms that can discourage regular activity and exercise.
Thiamine, which is heavily involved in food breakdown and metabolism, has been researched for its role in obesity. One study found that obese patients seeking bariatric surgery were 15-29% more likely to be deficient in thiamine than the average population. Researchers suggest that the link between thiamine deficiency and obesity appears to be related to consuming a diet high in simple sugars and carbohydrates. Many obese individuals consume diets that are high in carbs but low in whole grains, which is a common source of thiamine. Because thiamine is also involved in the breakdown of carbohydrates, the deficiency initiates a dangerous cycle where carbohydrate intake continues at an excessively high rate without having sufficient thiamine levels to break down the sugars, leading to a slippery slope of steady weight gain.
The final B vitamin that has been closely associated with weight control issues is niacin. This micronutrient is particularly important for fat metabolism, which plays an important role in our energy levels. As a macronutrient, fats have the highest caloric density, which means that fat metabolism will have the most significant impact on boosting energy. However, research has indicated that lipid break down was not the only weight-related benefit of adequate niacin intake. Researchers found that an increase in niacin intake for an obese study population resulted in a higher rate of adipose tissue breakdown by raising the production of the hormones involved in the metabolism of the fatty acids. The researchers also observed a reduction in inflammation produced by excessive adipose tissue as well as a lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome, both symptoms of carrying an unhealthy weight.
While the so-called sunshine vitamin has many benefits, including boosting both bone and mental health, researchers are just beginning to uncover the micronutrients role in weight management. The exact mechanism behind the role vitamin D plays in weight management is not entirely understood, researchers have suggested several potential theories. One study found that vitamin D inhibited new fat cell formation, a process known as adipogenesis. A later study demonstrated that the vitamin also prevented fat cell storage while increasing the cell's metabolic function. These effects prevent the accumulation of fat stores in the body associated with obesity and other serious weight-related diseases.
As the science and medical community continues to investigate the link between vitamin D and weight, studies show that the nutrient does play a role in preventing the pounds from piling on. In a year-long study looking at the effects of vitamin D intake and the diets of 218 obese women, researchers found that while every participant was on a calorie-restricted diet, those who maintained the appropriate vitamin D intake lost an average of 7 lbs more than those who did not. Another study that spanned over a 4.5 year period demonstrated that those with a higher level of vitamin D in their system experienced less weight gain between medical visits. While it's still not clear exactly why vitamin D contributes to positive weight control, it’s apparent that the micronutrient is important when it comes to the battle of the bulge.
Researchers out of Arizona State University found that reduced levels of vitamin C in the bloodstream was linked to higher levels of body fat and an increased waist circumference in overweight individuals. They attributed this association to the fact that vitamin C promotes fat-oxidation in the body, which allows for the breakdown of fat sources to be used to fuel our energy supply.
The controlled, four-week study involved 20 obese men and women who were randomly assigned to receive either a 500 mg dose of vitamin C daily or were given a placebo. Although both groups were placed on a low-fat, calorie-restricted diet, those who were given the placebo experienced an 11% drop in their ability to oxidize fats.
The researchers went on to discuss their findings, explaining the nutrient's role in fat oxidation and obesity. Vitamin C is a key component in the synthesis of a molecule known as carnitine. This biological compound's main function is as the “taxi driver” for fats, shuttling the macronutrient to the site of oxidation. Without adequate vitamin C levels to create carnitine, the body isn’t able to properly breakdown and use fats as a fuel source, leading to weight gain and feelings of fatigue. Essentially, vitamin C acts as the first domino in a long chain of physiological events that promote weight control and energy metabolism, making the vitamin an indispensable component of healthy weight management.
The final nutrient on our list of weight-controlling vitamins and minerals is calcium. Amongst numerous benefits, including bone development, heart health, and muscular function, calcium has been linked to positive effects on weight management-particularly for obese and overweight individuals. Research shows that maintaining an adequate calcium intake while restricting calories contributed to maintaining a lower body fat percentage and weight. As evidence mounts to suggest an inverse relationship between body mass index and calcium intake, researchers and medical professionals alike have offered up several theories to explain the mineral’s fat loss effects.
Calcium has been shown to increase thermogenesis, slightly increasing our body's core temperature. This raises our metabolic rate, allowing our body to convert food to energy more efficiently. To further ramp up the fat-burning potential of the mineral, calcium has been shown to increase fat oxidation while regulating blood sugar.[13,14] When calcium is present in our digestive tract, it stimulates intestinal cells to release hormones that signal to the pancreas to release insulin. Once insulin enters into the bloodstream, it works to shuttle sugar present in the blood after the breakdown of carb sources, into our cells to be used for fuel. This process prevents blood sugar spikes and drops while keeping our energy levels consistent, all factors that discourage us from gravitating towards sugary snacks and empty calories to combat a blood sugar crash. As a final fat-loss factor, calcium has been shown to increase lipolysis, or fat break down while also ramping up the rate of fat excretion in response to the same hormones released by the intestinal cells that stimulate insulin production. With the impressive list of weight-control properties, it’s useful to pay close attention to calcium intake when trying to shed a few pounds.
We’ve highlighted a few standout micronutrients when it comes to losing weight and maintaining healthy body fat levels. It’s crucial to note, however, the importance of making sure you take in an adequate amount of all the essential vitamins and minerals if you’re looking to manage your weight. If you find yourself deficient in one or more of the key vitamins, your body will register the lack of nutrients and respond by increasing your hunger signals in order to restore your micronutrient levels. While this protective physiological mechanism would be appropriate if an individual found themselves malnourished or severely under fueled, it’s counterproductive for someone trying to trim down. The MICROGEL™ multivitamin Bioactive Mutli by Healthycell, for example, is an ideal supplement to meet the nutritional demands that allow us to keep our weight in check. By offering the key micronutrients our body needs in a highly bioavailable (maximum absorption) format, the Bioactive Multi efficiently feeds our cells the necessary nutrients we need. This prevents a physiological “false alarm” that initiates overconsumption in an attempt to fill a nutritional void. So if you’re looking to lose weight and generally improve your overall health, prioritize your body’s intake of the full spectrum of essential vitamins and minerals with a multivitamin supplement like the Bioactive Multi by Healthycell.
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 Office of Dietary Supplements - Vitamin B12. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/
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