What are of the best vitamins and supplements for weight loss?
It goes without saying that there’s no magic pill to weight loss.
Anybody who has ever tried to lose even 1 pound knows that losing weight is not a walk in the park.
Interestingly, with all the “revolutionary” diets and work-out regimen that have sold millions of dollars worth of products, the one thing that remains central to weight loss is the simple rule of eating a healthy, balanced diet while burning off more calories than you consume.
But we all could use some help right?
There are vitamins and supplements you could take in addition to eating healthy and exercising that can support your goal to lose weight.
It can be hard to determine which of the vitamins and supplements on the market actually do what they are marketed to do.
This post will help you cut through the noise.
16 Best Vitamins and Supplements for Weight Loss
In this post, we’ll be discussing 16 of the best vitamins and supplements for weight loss and delving into the research that supports their use.
Please note that although we discuss these as the best vitamins and supplements for weight loss, you should consult with your doctor first to make sure none of these interact with any current medication you’re taking.
Let’s dive in.
1. Vitamin D
A deficiency in Vitamin D increases the risk of heart disease- a condition that is common with obesity.
Parathyroid hormone increases when the body lacks vitamin D. High levels of parathyroid hormone in a person increases the risk for heart disease.
A lack of Vitamin D also contributes to low amounts of another important hormone called calcitriol. Calcitriol keeps the cells in your heart and blood vessel healthy. Without it, the risk of death due to heart disease increases drastically.
Taking Vitamin D as a supplement reverses all of these symptoms.
In this study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that while vitamin D helped some individuals lose weight, the most impressive observation about giving patients vitamin D was the fact that it reduced triglycerides (a type of “bad” fat) in the blood.
Vitamin D also helps with the absorption of calcium which has its’ own weight loss benefits which we will discuss below.
Where will you find Vitamin D: Standing in the sun can cause your body to produce Vitamin D. Make sure to wear sunscreen. You can also take vitamin D as an oral supplement.
Most of us probably know of calcium as a mineral that supports bone and teeth health.
As mentioned above, Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium better. A lack of Vitamin D leads to poor calcium absorption which then results in poor bone and dental health.
Recent research studies show that calcium is important to weight loss as well.
This study published by the US National Library of Medicine showed that increasing the dietary intake of calcium in obese patients for 1 year resulted in an average weight loss of 10.8 lbs.
In mice, calcium increased metabolism and therefore prevented mice from gaining weight.
Where you will find calcium: You can get calcium from milk, fish and meat.
Probiotics are officially defined by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) as “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.”
Two major types of bacteria make up probiotics: Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus.
Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus are also two of the most studied probiotic bacteria.
Apart from supporting a healthy digestive system and boosting the immune system, probiotics can support weight loss in several ways.
- Lactobacillus probiotics allow your body to harvest less fat from the food you eat. Ultimately that fat is passed out with feces. Since fat is poorly absorbed in the presence of probiotics, your body does not have to deal with fat in the first place. Less storage of fat contributes to weight loss.
- These healthy microorganisms are involved in the release of GLP-1- an appetite-reducing hormone. Mice eat less food when GLP-1 is present. Additionally, the mice showed improved glucose tolerance. Glucose intolerance comes before the onset of diabetes. Diabetes is associated with obesity. Thus in these mice, GLP-1 reduced weight gain and a consequence of weight gain.
- When mice received probiotics, ANGPTL4 was released. ANGPTL4 reduces the storage of fat in the body. Less storage of fat in the body means less weight on the body.
- Probiotics in the Lactobacillus family have also been reported to reduce body weight specifically in women. In this study, patients received probiotics for 12 weeks. Interestingly, while the researchers did not notice weight loss in men after probiotic treatment, 50% more of the women who received the 12-week treatment lost body weight by compared to the group of women who received a placebo.
- Taking probiotics reduced belly fat in some studies.
As you can see, probiotics are mighty healthy for you! Apart from support gut and immune health, they can support your weight loss as well.
A word of caution here: because probiotics are still new on the health market, there are products that are purported to contain probiotics that don’t. Always read the labels of probiotic supplements to make sure you are receiving a reliable source.
Where to find probiotics: You should be able to get a good dose of probiotics in foods like yogurt, kefir and drinks like Kombucha. Probiotics are also commonly supplied as pills you can take.
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 Fatty Acids is the main ingredient found in fish oil tablets.
Studies show that Omega-3 Fatty Acids contribute to better brain, skin and heart health.
Though there is some evidence that Omega-3 Fatty Acids may help with weight loss, there are a few researchers who say it does not help.
Nonetheless, fish oil and Omega-3 Fatty Acids have enough established positive effects that it does not hurt to take this supplement to support an overall healthy lifestyle and weight loss.
- People who take fish oil felt fuller longer. They are less likely to eat more food.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids may increase metabolism leading to the faster breakdown of food in your body.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids helped people burn more calories.
Where to find Omega-3 Fatty Acids: You will find Omega-3 Fatty Acids in high amounts in fish, seafood, algae, chia seed, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts and the oils that come from these seeds.
Carnitine is a protein which is used for treating protein deficiencies in patients on hemodialysis. Low-birth weight infants receive carnitine to help them gain weight. A lot of body-builders take supplements that contain carnitine.
Carnitine plays an important role in the body by exporting long-chain fatty acids to your cell’s energy-producing center, the mitochondria. Carnitine also exports toxic chemicals out of your cells so they don’t build up in your body.
As mentioned above, carnitine is a protein. Generally, when you consume more protein, it forces your body to burn more fat.
Where to find carnitine: Your body naturally produces carnitine is naturally produced in the liver. Therefore, you don’t need to take extra. If you would like a boost however, you can get it from in red meat. Health stores also sell carnitine as an oral supplement/powder in stores.
Polyphenols occur naturally in tea and certain fruits.
Studies show that four of these polyphenols help you lose weight.
- Resveratrol and
We will discuss these four and their effects on weight loss below.
Green tea contains a polyphenol called catechins. One catechin in particular, EGCG, is responsible for the positive effect on weight loss. EGCG prevents the development of fat cells known as adipocytes. It also inhibits the absorption of fat from food during digestion.
In fact, EGCG has been shown to literally “burn” fat away by a process known as oxidation.
Human studies in Taiwan and The Netherlands both showed how drinking green tea reduced the body mass index (BMI) of the drinkers and prevented weight gain.
Blueberries contain another polyphenol called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins help with weight loss. Interestingly, supplementing a high fat diet of mice with purified anthocyanins decreased their body and adipose tissue weight compared to mice that were only given a high fat diet but no anthocyanins.
The administration of purified anthocyanins also lowered blood triglycerides and cholesterol levels.
Resveratrol is common in red grapes, red wine and peanuts.
It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and has been suggested to be effective in preventing the development of several diseases including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.
Rsveratrol’s beneficial effects are in part due to its’ ability to increase metabolism. This increase in metabolism increases the burning of fatty acids and increases the uptake of glucose. Through complex processes, resveratrol is also able to suppress fat accumulation in the body.
Curcumin is the major polyphenol present in the spice tumeric.
Tumeric is a spice and coloring agent. Asian medical practiotioners have used tumeric for centuries.
Curcumin also has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
The first report of curcumin’s properties came out in The Lancet in 1937. In this study, researchers showed that supplementing rat diet with a dose of curcumin reduced liver cholesterol and increased excretion of the bile. It also reduced weight gain in rats after 4 weeks of supplementation.
The impressive role of polyphenols in weight loss is definitely a reason to drink more tea, eat more blueberries and grapes and why you should start using tumeric to spice up your food.
11. Olive Leaf Extract (OLE)
Olive (Olea europaea) leaf has been widely used in traditional remedies as well as in human diet as an extract, in herbal tea and in the powder form in European and Mediterranean countries.
OLE has wide-ranging health benefits. It is sold as a natural nutraceutical in health stores.
More recently, there has been research that has looked at OLE and its’ effect on hypertension, cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
The most abundant chemical in OLE is oleuropein. In this research study, the researchers were able to show that supplementing a high-fat diet with oleuropein decreased weight gain and lowered fat levels in the blood of mice. Furthermore, oleuropein was protective against diet-induced obesity.
12. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 treats pernicious anemia and B12 deficiency.
Although it has not been shown directly to contribute to weight loss, vitamin B2 is used as an energy supplement. If you need energy to exercise, B12 will get you moving.
Vitamin B12 is also important in converting food into energy instead of fat. Thus indirectly preventing weight gain.
Where to find Vitamin B12: You can get Vitamin B12 from foods like eggs, milk, cheese, milk products, meat, fish, shellfish and poultry.
13. MCT Oils
Not all oils are bad for you! As we discussed with fish oils above, your body needs the right oils to function properly.
One of the reasons MCT oils are good for you is because unlike certain oils, they are digested easily and thus are not stored as fat.
MCT stands for “medium chain triglycerides”. MCT Oils help you lose weight and keep it off.
You will find MCT oils in coconut oil and palm oil. In those oils, MCTs make up around 60% of the total oil content.
How do MCTs help with weight loss?
Experimental studies show that MCTs suppress the deposition of fat in both humans and mice.
A random-controlled study from 2001, published by The Journal of Nutrition showed that healthy individuals who received MCT oils daily for 12 weeks lost more body fat as compared to the individuals who received an equally healthy diet but without the MCT oils.
Additionally, people who received MCT had a higher ketone count in their blood as compared to people who had not received MCT oil supplements.
This particular observation is important because an increase in ketones is the basis for the popular ketogenic diet. In a ketogenic diet, the body burns more fat for energy versus burning sugar or carbohydrates for energy.
This pushes the body to lose more weight.
This study supported the idea of using MCT oils to increase ketones in the body which in turn will contribute to weight loss.
MCT oils are also important to heart health, support digestion and boost energy levels.
7-Keto-dehydroepiandrosterone (7-keto-DHEA) is a by-product of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA).
Your body forms DHEA naturally.
7-keto-DHEA increases metabolism and produces heat that promotes weight loss. Some users of 7-keto-DHEA report hair loss as an undesirable side effect.
You will find 7-keto DHEA on the market as an oral supplement.
Ginseng is famous for boosting energy, improving cognitive performance, prevents cancer and contributes to weight loss.
This supplement comes in three varieties: white ginseng, red ginseng and black ginseng.
In one study, researchers fed mice for 8 weeks with:
- a low fat diet
- a high fat diet
- or a high fat diet supplemented with 0.5% or 5% Korean red ginseng extract
The researchers measured body weight, adipose tissue mass and food intake. They also measured the genes that form blood vessels in fatty tissue.
Red ginseng reduced reduced body weight and the fatty tissue mass in high-fat fed mice. This was compared with mice that did not receive ginseng
Ginseng also reduced the number of blood vessels feeding fatty tissue, as well as genes that contribute to the formation of those vessels.
These results show that ginseng effectively reduces adipose tissue mass and prevents obesity in obese mice.
This effect of ginseng is partly due to the fact that it blocks the formation of blood vessels in fatty tissue.
Another study which was conducted in humans reflected similar results in response to ginseng.
The researchers gave obese women 6 grams of powdered ginseng 3 times a day for 8 weeks.
Women who received the ginseng saw lower blood pressure rates and reduced weight gain.
16. Conjugated Linoleic Acid
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is a powerful fat burner.
You will find CLA in animal products like butter and beef.
Vegetarians and vegans tend to have lower amounts of CLA. However, you can obtain CLA as a supplement.
Manufacturers use Safflower and sunflower oils to make CLA supplements.
Healthy human subjects who took CLA for 1 year had a lower body fat increased their lean body mass compared to their counterparts who did not take CLA.
CLA decreases energy intake.
Normally, when your energy intake is low or your energy expenditure is high (you expend or use up more energy when you exercise for), you lose weight. CLA reduces how much energy your body takes from food and therefore encourages weight loss.
CLA also prevents weight loss by preventing the formation of fat cells or adipocytes.
Preadipocytes form adipocytes. In order for this to happen, a complex differentiation process has to occur.
In both humans and mice, researcher has shown that CLA prevents preadipocytes becoming adipocytes (how cool is that?!)
No adipocytes means less fat and more weight loss.
Last but not least, CLA increases the break down of fats so they are not stored in the body.
Glutamine is one of the most abundant protein building blocks in our bodies. In fact, it makes up 30-35% of the protein in your blood. Glutamine makes up 60% of your muscle.
While your body can create it, it helps to also take it as a supplement.
You can get glutamine from meat, fish, chicken, spinach, lettuce, beans, beets, wheat, milk, cheese and yogurt. You will also find glutamine in supplements like whey protein.
High amounts of protein in your diet keeps you fuller longer.
With these reduced cravings, you are less likely to grab an unhealthy snack in between meals or to over-eat. Since glutamine is all-protein, it does just that.
Patients who received glutamine daily for six weeks improved their heart health scores and reduced their body composition.
And now you have a list of 16 best vitamins and supplements for weight loss, as well as the scientific data that backs their role and importance when it comes to losing weight.
As I mentioned in the beginning, there is no magic pill to losing weight. We all wish it wasn’t true, but it is!
A healthy, balanced diet that includes more fruits, vegetables and less saturated fats. This, alongside moderate exercise, is the true basis of any effective weight loss program.
It is also important to remember that each of the supplements and vitamins we’ve discussed are complex chemicals in their own right.
Thus, it is important to check with your doctor before you include any of these vitamins and supplements in your diet. This is especially true if you have any pre-existing conditions.
To avoid adverse drug reactions with these supplements, it is important to consult with your doctor if you are currently on any medication.
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