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Does Vitamin B Complex Help You Lose Weight?

author image Jill Corleone, RDN, LD
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.
Does Vitamin B Complex Help You Lose Weight?
Woman eating a leafy greens salad which contains vitamin B. Photo Credit: Tetra Images/Tetra images/Getty Images

No one single nutrient, food or vitamin with a slew of nutrients will help your body magically lose unwanted pounds. Weight loss requires you to create a negative calorie balance by making a change in what you eat and also in your activity level. However, the B vitamins do play an important role toward helping your body metabolize nutrients -- as well as helping with appetite control. Additionally, an association exists between a deficiency of some of these vitamins and obesity. Consult with your doctor to discuss the risks and benefits of a B complex vitamin for your health.

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About the B Complex

The vitamin B complex is a group of eight vitamins your body needs in tiny amounts. These vitamins include thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folate, vitamins B-6, B-12 and biotin. They are water-soluble vitamins, which means that your body is unable to store them and that you must get them daily in your diet for your body to function properly. Their association with weight loss may be related to their ability to help your body metabolize carbs, protein and fat. However, this doesn't mean they cause weight loss. The B complex vitamins are also necessary for vision, skin and to help normalize appetite.

Vitamin B-12 and Weight

In addition to helping your body convert the food you eat into energy, vitamin B-12 is also needed to make DNA, RNA and red blood cells. A 2013 study published in Medicinski Glaski found an association between overweight and obesity and low vitamin B-12 levels. The authors of the study suggest routine testing of vitamin B-12 levels for those who struggle with their weight, supplementing as needed. However, more research is necessary to better understand the association between low vitamin B-12 levels and weight status, and it's not known if getting more B-12 makes you lose weight.

Thiamin and Weight

An association also exists between thiamine deficiency and obesity. A 2015 study published in Advances in Nutrition found that 15 to 29 percent of those who were seeking weight-loss surgery were deficient in the B vitamin. Colorado State University explains that thiamine plays an important role in helping to normalize appetite. While this is important to note, the authors of the 2015 study suggest that more research is needed to better understand why obese individuals may be deficient in thiamine, and whether this has any correlation to weight loss.

Niacin and Weight

Obesity increases the breakdown of niacin, according to a 2015 article published in the World Journal of Diabetes. Making sure you meet your daily niacin needs may be even more important when you're carrying extra weight. Like other B vitamins, niacin helps extract energy from food, and promotes a normal appetite. It's also important for skin and nerve health, and for digestive health.

How to Get Your B Vitamins

Most Americans do not have a difficult time meeting their daily B vitamin needs, according to Colorado State University. These vitamins are found in a variety of different foods, making it easy for you to get what you need. Food sources of B vitamins include grains, meat, eggs, beans and leafy greens. These foods are not only rich in these essential water-soluble vitamins, but are also low in calories and are a healthy component of any weight-loss plan.

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