There's no magic weight-loss pill, but getting enough vitamins from a healthy diet may make it easier for you to maintain a healthy body weight. In some cases, a deficiency in a particular vitamin may make it harder for you to lose weight, and vitamin deficiencies can leave you feeling fatigued and too tired to exercise, which is a key component of a weight-loss plan. Getting your vitamins from a healthy, balanced diet is preferable to taking supplements, but in the case of a deficiency, your doctor may recommend them. Never take supplements without your doctor's recommendation as taking too much of certain vitamins can be dangerous.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D comes from foods like fatty fish such as herring, tuna and salmon and from fortified milk, bread and cereal. Your skin also synthesizes vitamin D when exposed to the sun. But vitamin D deficiency is common around the globe, and now it's been linked to obesity. In a small, preliminary study of 38 overweight men and women conducted at the University of Minnesota, researchers found that those who had lower levels of vitamin D lost less weight during an 11-week calorie-restricted diet than those who had adequate or above adequate levels. In fact, the higher the vitamin D blood level, the more weight the individual lost. The researchers, who presented their findings at The Endocrine Society's 91st Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., concluded that vitamin D supplementation in addition to a low-calorie diet could improve dieting success rates. Vitamin D deficiency needs to be diagnosed by your doctor through a blood test before supplementation is necessary.
Vitamin B-12 Deficiency
Vitamin B-12 shots are often marketed to people trying to lose weight, claiming that the shots boost energy and metabolism. But there isn't sufficient evidence from scientific studies to support B-12's use as an adjunct therapy for weight loss, according to an Aetna clinical policy bulletin. However, some people, specifically those who are deficient in B-12, may benefit from B-12 supplements that bring their blood levels back up to normal. Vitamin B-12 supports healthy metabolism and energy production, and a common symptom of deficiency is fatigue. Populations most at risk for B-12 deficiency include vegans, the elderly and people with malabsorption problems resulting from conditions such as Crohn's and pancreatic diseases.
Cover Your Bases
Eating a balanced diet, including five servings of fruits and veggies each day, is the best way to make sure you get all the vitamins you need to maintain a healthy weight. If you're unable to get what you need through food, your doctor may recommend a multivitamin and mineral supplement to help fill in the gaps. In a study published in the "International Journal of Obesity" in June 2010, 96 obese Chinese women ages 18 to 55 were divided into three groups. During the 26-week study, one group was given a multivitamin and mineral supplement, one group received a calcium supplement and one group received a placebo. At the end of the study, the multivitamin group had markedly lower body weight, body mass index and body fat and higher resting energy expenditure than the other groups.
Water-soluble vitamins such as B-12 don't pose any threat when taken in high doses because the body excretes what it doesn't need in urine. But getting too much of fat-soluble vitamin D, the excess of which is stored in the body, can be toxic, leading to anorexia, excessive urination and irregular heartbeat. It can also increase blood levels of calcium, causing vascular and tissue calcification and damaging the heart, blood vessels and kidneys. Keep your vitamin levels in a healthy range by eating a healthy diet including all the food groups and getting adequate sun exposure.
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D
- The Merck Manual Professional Addition: Vitamin D
- EurekaAlert!: Successful Weight Loss With Dieting Is Linked to Vitamin D Levels
- Delaware Medical Weight Loss: Boost Energy Levels With Vitamin B12 Shots at Delaware Weight Loss Clinic
- Aetna: Clinical Policy Bulletin: Vitamin B-12 Therapy
- Harvard Health Publications: Vitamin B12 Deficiency Can Be Sneaky, Harmful
- International Journal of Obesity: Effects of Multivitamin and Mineral Supplementation on Adiposity, Energy Expenditure and Lipid Profiles in Obese Chinese Women
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)