The energy required to smile or laugh or conduct the nerve activity that keeps the heart beating relies on a complex system of biochemical reactions. Each of these reactions rely on enzymes, which speed up the process. These enzymes have helpers called coenzymes, which are typically vitamins and minerals. So, looking at the body from this standpoint, the biochemical reactions that make the body work couldn’t effectively happen without vitamins and minerals.
Where Do You Get Vitamins and Minerals
The food you eat, everything ranging from pizza to apples to pot roast, is composed of varying amounts of protein, carbohydrates and fats, which is where your body extracts its necessary vitamins and minerals. In essence, consuming a diet high in fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains is a good foundation for providing your body with the vitamins it needs. However, for some, this nutritional balance is not possible due to food allergies, chronic illnesses or weight loss plans that require restrictive diets. In such instances, vitamin and mineral supplements are helpful.
Energy-Releasing B Vitamins
B-vitamins or B-complex makes up eight of the nine water-soluble vitamins. Each member of the B-complex family has a unique structure and function. Vitamins B-1-thiamine, B-2-riboflavin, B-3-niacin, B-5-pantothenic acid, and B-7-biotin are energy-releasing vitamins — coenzymes for the metabolic process. Vitamin B-5, for instance, forms a type of coenzyme known as CoA, which is necessary for producing energy and metabolizing carbohydrates and fatty acids. The other three B-complex vitamins, B-6-pyridoxine and B-9-folic acid, are essential in the metabolism of proteins, and B-12-cobalamine aids cellular division — a function carried out by every living cell in the body — making B-12 an important vitamin for good health. While these vitamins have a function in metabolism, the scientific evidence that these vitamins aid in weight loss is not clear.
The Sunny Side of Vitamin D
The D vitamins — D-2 and D-3 — are a group of vitamins that help regulate the levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood, which helps strengthen and maintain bone integrity. Getting plenty of sunshine can help you get the vitamin D-3 that your body needs. The ultraviolet rays from the sun along with the skin activate this natural form of D vitamin. The D-2 vitamin is the form of vitamin D that’s commonly found in fortified milk and dairy products. Since vitamin D is not widely available through food sources, if you aren’t getting enough sunshine, taking a vitamin D supplement can fill that gap, but don’t overdo it. Vitamin D is one of the four fat-soluble vitamins, which means it can build up in the body and become harmful if taken excessively. Even though researchers are learning more about the benefits of vitamin D, there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that vitamin D aids in weight loss.
Magnesium is an important mineral involved in a broad range of the body's metabolic processes. It helps regulate the heart and blood sugar levels and supports strong bones and a healthy immune system. Magnesium is widely available through food sources, particularly leafy green vegetables, beans and nuts.
Vitamins, Minerals and Their Effect on Weight Loss
Weight loss occurs when the expenditure of energy, such as physical activity and the body’s physiological processes, is greater than energy intake — food and drinks. While vitamins and minerals work at the cellular level to help the body use energy more efficiently, there hasn’t been enough evidence to show that these micronutrients support weight loss. A healthy, balanced diet coupled with physical activity is a good strategy toward achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
- "Lippincott’s Illustrated Reviews: Biochemistry"; 4th Edition, Champe, Pamela C., et al.; 2008
- Mayo Clinic: Nutrition and Healthy Eating -- Dietary Supplements
- "The Doctor's Complete Guide to Vitamins and Minerals"; Eades, Mary Dan, M.D.; 2000
- Mayo Clinic: Vitamin D
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Magnesium