10 Vitamins and Minerals that Assist Weight Loss
Before you spend money on useless supplements that won’t support your goals of weight loss, find out which vitamins and minerals your body needs in order to support healthy weight loss with this handy guide.
Before you shell out cash for supplements – take a peek at the research that has investigated which specific vitamins and minerals for weight loss work to help you shed those pounds. And instead of running out to purchase a vitamin or mineral supplement – we suggest a few foods that are rich in those nutrients and some of which have bonus benefits for your health in other ways.
How vitamins and minerals work to help with weight loss.
If you don't have adequate vitamin and mineral levels in your body, then weight loss can become a real challenge. This is because your body requires specific, key nutrients in order to ‘turn on' enzymes that break down stored fat. If you don't have these particular vitamins and minerals for weight loss, then you might find the scale moving a little slower than you anticipated.
The best way to find out if you are getting all the vitamins and minerals you need for weight loss is to have blood tests done to measure your vitamin levels, or record your diet for about 3 days and enter those foods into a nutrient database, like the USDA's Supertracker tool, which can tell you exactly what kinds of nutrients you need.
How your body uses vitamins and minerals during weight loss.
The process of breaking down fat occurs in a ‘stepwise' fashion – and each step requires an active enzyme – or a molecular worker that makes things happen inside and outside cells. In many cases, a vitamin or mineral will activate, or ‘turn on' an enzyme, so that fat can be broken down and used for energy. For example, the stepwise breakdown of fat by different enzymes requires pantothenic acid, niacin (vitamin B3), vitamin c, and riboflavin (vitamin B2). One of the primary sites of fat breakdown –called beta oxidation – is the all-important organ-- your liver.
When vitamin levels are low or you are not consuming enough in your diet, your liver will not work as well. Your liver is the primary organ involved in beta-oxidation – or the process where fatty acids are broken down and burned for energy. In order to ‘break fat free' from cells, you need activation of enzymes for each step, which requires different vitamins and minerals.
Contrary to popular belief vitamins don't actually provide energy, rather they assist our body in unlocking energy from stored energy sources, such as fat.
Some of the particular B vitamins involved in energy production overall are: Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and cobalamin (B12). Great sources of these vitamins include whole grains and dairy products contain vitamin B12.
Vitamin C helps shuttle the fatty molecule into the next step of breakdown. Each step of fat breakdown is accomplished by a ‘reductase' enzyme, which requires vitamin C to donate an electron in order for the steps to continue. Vitamin C is rich in fruit and vegetables like oranges, berries plums, and broccoli.
Vitamin D and Vitamin A plug directly into sites on our DNA to turn on various genes, some of which are involved in energy metabolism, as well as immune function. Egg yolks are a great source of both of these gene-regulating fat-soluble vitamins.
Calcium can help with weight loss – as shown by a great variety of research with calcium from dairy products and weight loss. Korean adults who consumed either yogurt or milk twice per day were at a decreased risk of being obese, with calcium most likely being the reason they were at a lower body weight.
Omega-3 fatty acids combined with alpha lipoic acid (ALA) can also help with weight loss, as women who were overweight or obese followed a calorie- restricted diet, the women who also took an omega 3 fatty acid called EPA in combination with ALA lost significantly more weight than women who simply restricted calories alone. Good sources of fatty acids like EPA include fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines. ALA is found in small amounts in many foods, such as spinach and Brussel sprouts – yet another reason to make sure you eat your greens to get the vitamins and minerals you need for weight loss.
Gropper, S. Smith, J. Groff, J. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. Fourth edn. 2005 Thomson Wadsworth. BSBN 0-534-55986-7.
Huerta AE, Navas-Carretero S, Prieto-Hontoria PL, Martínez JA, Moreno-Aliaga MJ. Effects of α-lipoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid in overweight and obese women during weight loss. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2015 Feb;23(2):313-21. doi: 10.1002/oby.20966. Epub 2014 Dec 31.
USDA's Supertracker diet analysis tool. https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/
Bartlett, K. and Eaton, S. (2004), Mitochondrial β-oxidation. European Journal of Biochemistry, 271: 462–469. doi: 10.1046/j.1432-1033.2003.03947.
Lee HJ, Cho JI, Lee HS, Kim CI, Cho E. Intakes of dairy products and calcium and obesity in Korean adults: Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (KNHANES) 2007-2009. PLoS One. 2014 Jun 10;9(6):e99085. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0099085. eCollection 2014.