What Are the Best Vitamins For Energy and Weight Loss?
As you probably know, most of the energy you need to make it through the day comes from nutrients in the food you eat. A well-balanced diet that provides your body with essential vitamins and minerals is necessary for a healthy lifestyle. Supplements are not a magical pill that will suddenly increase your energy or weight loss, but they can be extremely helpful in boosting your body’s overall nutrient intake, thus supporting your metabolism and ability to lose weight via exercise and healthy habits. In this article, we will take a look at a few minerals and vitamins that help with energy and weight loss in this way: B vitamins, vitamin D, and iron.
The 8 B vitamins may be one of the best contenders when it comes to boosting both energy and weight loss simultaneously. This is thanks to the basic functions many of them perform within the human body. B complex vitamins consist of the following nutrients:
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
- Vitamin B3 (niacin)
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
- Vitamin B7 (biotin)
- Vitamin B9 (folate or folic acid)
- Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)
The main job of many B complex vitamins is supporting metabolic function in your body’s cells. Essentially, these nutrients help cells convert food into energy in the form of glucose, a substance used as fuel throughout the body. This, in turn, generates more energy physically and boosts your metabolism. Increased energy and a healthier metabolism may make both exercise and general weight loss easier.
Some B vitamins, such as vitamin B12, are also important in proper neurological function. Lower levels of B12 have been linked with depression, and studies show that supplementing vitamin B12 along with an antidepressant may provide greater relief of depressive symptoms (1). This may be due to the fact that vitamin B12 and other B complex vitamins like B6 play a part in the production of neurotransmitters, or mood-regulating hormones such as serotonin. Since weight gain and energy loss are often related to depression, B vitamins may be useful once again in counteracting these effects.
B vitamins are quite prevalent in a variety of foods, such as beans, lentils, whole grains, and animal products. Vitamin B12 in particular is only found in animal products like meat and poultry, so vegans and vegetarians may be at an increased risk of developing deficiencies. Taking a multivitamin that contains B complex vitamins is a great way to ensure you always have a ready supply of these important nutrients.
Vitamin D, or the sunshine vitamin, is well-known for its ability to help the body absorb other important nutrients like calcium. However, studies indicate that it may be able to support weight loss as well. A study performed in 2014 found that overweight individuals who regularly met their vitamin D requirements lost more weight over a 12 month period compared to those who did not (2).
The exact link between vitamin D and weight loss is still currently unknown, but some theories suggest that it could be a result of vitamin D’s ability to increase levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin takes part in the regulation of various tendencies, including mood, sleep, and even appetite control. Any of these may affect a person’s weight loss, particularly appetite control. Increased serotonin could help individuals feel fuller and more satisfied, lowering overall calorie intake and the desire to overeat (3).
Somewhat of an outlier, vitamin D is not a nutrient that is regularly found in foods, other than those which have been fortified with it like milk or cereal. Instead, your body produces vitamin D when your skin comes in contact with sunlight. If you feel that you may not be producing an adequate amount of this essential nutrient, you may want to consider a vitamin D supplement.
Iron is known as a trace mineral, meaning that your body only needs a small amount of it in comparison to other minerals like calcium. However, that does not make it any less essential to your body’s inner systems. Iron plays a major part in the transportation of oxygen throughout the body, particularly to muscles. Your body uses iron in the production of hemoglobin and myoglobin, two proteins inside red blood cells that carry oxygen from place to place (4). Without oxygen, muscles and other parts of the body cannot function properly, often leading to feelings of fatigue. In fact, iron deficiency is a common cause of chronic fatigue, especially in those who experience heavy menstrual cycles or who frequently donate blood.
Proper iron intake can help with energy and weight loss by providing your muscles and other parts of your body with the oxygen they need to perform tasks. Burning fat is impossible if your muscles do not have a ready supply of oxygen. Exercising with feelings of fatigue or improper circulation can be dangerous, so it is important to ensure you are regularly consuming enough iron to fuel your red blood cells.
Iron is found in various foods, including seafood, red meat, pork, poultry, beans, and dark green leafy vegetables like spinach. If you are unable to incorporate these foods into your normal diet, you may want to consider taking a supplement that contains iron to balance your intake. However, remember to speak with your doctor before starting any supplement, as they can help you find the right regimen to suit your health needs and unique lifestyle.
- Syed, Ehsan Ullah et al. “Vitamin B12 Supplementation in Treating Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” The Open Neurology Journal, 15 November 2013, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3856388.
- Mason, Caitlin et al. “Vitamin D3 Supplementation During Weight Loss: A Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 12 March 2014, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24622804.
- Halford, Jason C.G. and Joanne A. Harrold. “5-HT(2C) Receptor Agonists and the Control of Appetite.” Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology, 2012, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22249823.
- “Iron Fact Sheet for Consumers.” National Institutes of Health, 5 April 2022, https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-Consumer.