Vitamins and Minerals to Boost Your Metabolism and Promote Weight Loss
Losing weight isn’t as easy as popping a few magical pills. However, there are a few vitamins and minerals you can take to ensure your body is functioning as efficiently as possible for weight loss.
A well-balanced diet can fulfill most of your nutrient needs. But if you’re on a limited diet, adding a few safe vitamin supplements could provide the extra boost you need to stay on track with your healthy weight loss regimen.
When it comes to weight loss, not all vitamins and minerals are created equal. Read on to find out which ones can help you shed excess weight and keep it off.
The B vitamins include:
- thiamine (B-1)
- riboflavin (B-2)
- niacin (B-3)
- pantothenic acid (B-5)
- pyridoxine (B-6)
- biotin (B-7)
- folate (B-9)
- cobalamin (B-12)
- B-12 is essential for the metabolism of proteins and fats. It needs B-6 and folate to work correctly.
- B-6 also helps metabolize protein.
- Thiamine helps the body metabolize fat, protein, and carbohydrates.
Good choices of foods that contain B vitamins include:
- lean meats and seafood
- whole grains, including barley and brown rice
- dairy products
- some fruits, such as bananas, apples, grapes, and watermelon
- nuts and seeds
- some vegetables, including spinach, potatoes, and squash
B-12 is present only in animal products, meaning vegetarians and vegans may have difficulty consuming enough of this vitamin.
In addition to dairy products, the following foods may contain B-12:
- fortified plant-based milk
- nutritional yeast
- fortified breakfast cereals
- meat substitutes
- some spreads, such as Marmite
These vitamins are essential for a fully functioning metabolism. The main function of the B vitamins is to help your body metabolize carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, and to use the stored energy in food.
Thiamine (B-1), for example, helps the body cells convert carbohydrates into energy. In other words, low levels of one or more of these vitamins means your metabolism won’t be functioning at its best. This makes losing weight even harder.
Food sources: You can find B vitamins in a range of foods. Good sources include:
Tip: In general, dietary supplements containing all eight B vitamins are known as B-complex vitamins. They can easily be found in stores or online.
Try it: Shop for vitamin B supplements.
Your body can get all the vitamin D it needs courtesy of the sun. Yet most people today spend too much time indoors, or they live in climates where the sun doesn’t always shine.
Getting enough vitamin D from food is difficult, so supplements are often recommended. Adequate levels of vitamin D may also help prevent depression, according to some research. A positive attitude is also fundamental for an effective diet.
A 2011 study found that overweight and obese adults taking calcium and vitamin D supplements lost significantly more stomach fat than people not taking any supplements.
Foods with vitamin D include:
Unlike other essential vitamins, people can get vitamin D from sunlight. Safe exposure to the sun is the fastest way to top up vitamin D.
Foods that contain vitamin D include:
- egg yolks
- fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines
- cod liver oil
- beef liver
- fortified dairy
- fortified plant-based milk
- fortified breakfast cereals
- some types of mushrooms
If a person is overweight, vitamin supplementation alone may not improve weight. Weight loss has to come from lifestyle changes as well.
Tip: You might want to consider taking a vitamin D supplement if you spend most of your days indoors. It’s still important to use sunscreen.
Try it: Shop for vitamin D supplements.
Iron plays a role in helping your body create energy from nutrients. Iron helps carry oxygen to all of the cells in your body, including your muscles. This, in turn, helps them burn fat.
Symptoms of iron deficiency anemia include:
Low iron levels also reduce your physical endurance and athletic performance.
Women who experience heavy menstrual periods and people who frequently donate blood are more prone to iron deficiency.
If you’re at higher risk for iron deficiency, talk to your doctor about an iron supplement.
Food sources: You can grow your body’s iron stores with the following foods:
dark green, leafy vegetables
tofu and soybeans
Your body absorbs the type of iron found in meat better than the iron that comes from a plant-based source. Not a meat eater? You could be deficient in iron if you haven’t properly replaced meat with another source of iron.
Tip: Take iron supplements with food and add extra fiber to your diet, as iron supplements can be constipating.
Try it: Shop for iron supplements.
Magnesium is necessary for energy production in the body. This mineral acts as a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems. These systems are responsible for a wide range of reactions in the body, including:
- controlling blood glucose
- regulating blood pressure
- keeping bones strong
- keeping the nervous system functioning smoothly
Dietary surveys of people in the United States regularly show that magnesium intakes are too low. A magnesium supplement can ensure you’re getting enough of it.
Food sources: The best sources of magnesium include:
You may want to keep a handful of nuts on hand for quick energy boosts and so you don’t wear out as easily while you diet, especially if you’re working out a lot. Just don’t overeat them: nuts are high in calories.
Tip: Very high doses of magnesium from supplements or medications often result in diarrhea.
Try it: Shop for magnesium supplements.
It’s technically not a vitamin or mineral, but green tea extract is one of the few marketed supplements worth a second look. Green tea is thought to increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation, and to reduce fat production and absorption.
An analysis of six controlled clinical trials found that caffeine alone, or in combination with catechins, significantly increased energy expenditure when compared to placebo.
One study in 2012Trusted Source found that green tea supplements reduced body weight in obese individuals by an average of nearly 2 pounds, as compared to placebo.
Tip: Green tea extract is considered safe, but clinicians advise people to take the extract with food to minimize any potential risks.
Try it: Shop for green tea extract.
The safest way to consume more metabolism-boosting vitamins and minerals is by eating a healthful, balanced diet that is varied and nutritious.
If necessary, vitamin and mineral supplements are available in many health food stores or online:
The list of supplements that claim to increase metabolism of fat is quite long. There isn’t sufficient research to back up the claims for the majority of these supplements, though.
This isn’t an exhaustive list. However, at the moment, there’s no sufficient evidence to show that the following supplements help promote weight loss or increase lean body mass safely: