Vitamin B-12, also known as cobalamin, is a nutrient that helps convert food into energy, maintains nerve cells and helps form blood cells. People who are deficient in the nutrient tend to feel lethargic and may have a slower metabolism. An HCG diet combines a low-calorie food plan with daily injections of human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone that women produce during pregnancy. According to A.T.W. Simeons, the endocrinologist who developed the protocol, HCG, suppresses hunger. While on an HCG diet, taking vitamin supplements is not permitted. HCG injections are not effective for weight loss, the American Society of Bariatric Physicians determined after reviewing numerous studies on its use. It is the extreme calorie restriction, not the hormone injections, that cause weight loss.
About Vitamin B-12
Vitamin B-12 is a water-soluble vitamin that needs to be replenished every day in order to avoid developing a deficiency. It is found naturally in animal products like fish, dairy, eggs, beef and pork. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that the recommended daily allowance of vitamin B-12 is 2.4 mcg for most healthy adults. While deficiency in this nutrient is not common, it can occur in seniors who cannot absorb nutrients in their diet. Other populations at risk are people with restrictive diets, those with malabsorption conditions and patients with an eating disorder. While an HCG diet is very restrictive, it does require intake of 200 g of meat per day, which can contain anywhere from .1 to 2.5 mcg of vitamin B-12.
About HCG Diet
The HCG protocol was developed by Simeons in the 1950s when he was in India working with obese men. He believed that when combined with a very low-calorie diet -- an intake of just 500 calories a day -- HCG reduces appetite and redistributes fat more evenly over the entire body. Participants in Simeons' HCG diet eat two meals a day: lunch and dinner. They are permitted to have 200 g of lean meat, two vegetables, two servings of fruit and two bread sticks or two slices of toast each day. Adding anything else, from a vitamin supplement to an oral laxative, is considered cheating. Simeons warns that deviating in any way will sabotage your efforts to lose weight. Mayo Clinic nutritionist Jennifer K. Nelson, RD, says that no "high-quality" research has shown HCG to aid weight loss, and warns that the severe calorie restrictions on this diet could cause nutrient deficiencies. She adds that HCG can also cause side effects such as male breast enlargement, fatigue, headache and irritability.
Vitamins and HCG
There are two reasons vitamins are forbidden on an HCG diet. Simeons explains that it’s impossible to determine how many calories are in a vitamin product and whether any sugar – a forbidden nutrient – was added. Secondly, he says that when the body burns excess fat, any vitamins in your tissues will be reabsorbed into your system. While most water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body, are regularly excreted and must be replenished daily, vitamin B-12 is an exception. According to MedlinePlus, "The body can store vitamin B12 for years in the liver."
The very low-calorie phase of an HCG diet lasts for 26 days. According to Riverside Health Systems, it can take months, or even years, for a vitamin deficiency to develop. So even if your tissues are not releasing water-soluble nutrients, as long as you do not start an HCG diet with a deficiency, it’s not likely you will develop one in less than a month. Once the calorie-restriction phase of the diet is over, Simeons supports getting your RDA of all vitamins and minerals.
- Riverside: Vitamin Deficiency Anemia; March 2009
- HCG Diet Info: “Pounds & Inches” by A.T.W. Simeons
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B-12 (Cobalamin); June 2009
- USDA National Nutrient Database
- MedlinePlus; Vitamin B-12; February 2011
- McKinley Health Center: Vitamin B-12; What Vegans Need to Know; May 2008