We hear the word ‘vitamins’ everywhere. On food packaging, in advertisements, even from our friends and family. But do you ever stop to wonder what vitamins actually are, and how they can help us?
Well, this article has answers to both questions, and you may be surprised by the second one…
Because some vitamins have a big role to play in weight loss.
But first, a quick look at definitions.
What are vitamins
The term is an umbrella for several organic compounds required by the body for various normal bodily processes. They help the body to carry out the reactions to help things like metabolism and growth take place.
Although they’re named after letters – vitamin A, vitamin B, etc – there is no rhyme or reason to the letters chosen. Only some letters are used, there are gaps, and the system doesn’t even move from least to most recently discovered.
As it stands, the following vitamins exist:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
We won’t go into the reasons for the gaps here, so we can spend more time with the important stuff in the next section.
Only vitamin D can be produced by the body (and even then this process requires sunlight to take place), so all the rest of our needs must be met by dietary intake and – as is increasingly popular – nutritional supplements.
Although vitamins can be found in pretty much every food, making sure you get enough vitamins is especially important if you follow certain diets: for example, vitamin B12 does not occur in any foods compatible with veganism.
Vitamins and weight loss
Each vitamin is involved in different bodily processes, some of which have various implications for weight loss. They feature heavily in metabolism for example – the process by which fats and carbohydrates are broken down, stored, retrieved, and used for energy. Certain deficiencies have also been found in people with obesity.
Although getting the right amount of vitamins in your diet won’t prevent or reverse weight gain, it may help you to protect against it.
What causes weight loss?
To understand how vitamins may help with weight loss, it’s first important to understand what can cause weight gain. Some of the key contributors are:
- Eating more calories than you burn. This is the root of all weight gain, as your body stores some of the excess calories around the body, in the form of fat.
- Lack of exercise. Burning calories requires physical exertion, so if you are eating more than you need without increasing your exercise, you will gain weight.
- Unhealthy foods. Certain foods contain more fat and sugar than others by volume, and by nutritional value. If you mainly eat foods that are high in fat and sugar, you stand to gain more weight.
- Some medicines can contribute to weight gain. This is often made clear when you begin taking the medication, so hopefully, you will have the opportunity to make lifestyle adjustments accordingly.
Vitamins and metabolism
An effective lipid metabolism means the body stores fat in the right places when you eat, and that it can be broken down and burned for energy when needed. Glucose metabolism is the same process, but for sugars (in the form of carbohydrates).
Vitamins B6 and B12 play an important role in lipid metabolism, an effect which was known as early as 1959!
One of the specific roles of vitamin B6 is the biosynthesis of sphingolipids which, if you aren’t a nutritional scientist, you probably won’t have heard of. Essentially it is a process by which your body manufactures things – cell walls, for example – out of fats.
Vitamins deficiencies and weight gain
As we mentioned earlier, vitamin deficiencies have also been found in overweight people, leading some scientists to believe there may be a causal link between these deficiencies and gaining weight.
One example of this is vitamin D deficiency, which has been found to fall as adiposity (i.e., amount of fat in the body) increases. While a cause and effect link has not been established, maintaining the levels of vitamin D your body requires is a good way to make sure processes remain balanced.
How to choose a vitamin supplement
Because they are so well known, vitamins often feature quite heavily in the ingredients lists of some of the best fat burners. Some that you’ll see are literally just tablets of one type of vitamin – these are great for plugging a deficit that you are aware you have.
Other supplements have wider formulas that include a blend of various vitamins as well as plant extracts and herbs. Other are tailored to female physiology and designed to help burn fat by providing energy for workouts, suppressing appetite, and by including Iron and Magnesium, substances that women tend to be naturally depleted in.
Vitamin deficiencies have a lot of overlap with weight gain and poor body composition, and being aware of the relationship between the two can be helpful for obesity prevention. By making sure you get enough of the vitamins your body needs – whether through your diet, through supplements, or both – you stand to enjoy good body balance.
For more information check out this guide to the best vitamins to support your weight loss goals on the Leanbean blog.