Is there such a thing as the “magic pill?” The supplement that checks off every single box of our weight loss woes. To zap that fat in all the right places. Speed up our metabolism to get lean muscles, and improve digestion so that your body runs like clockwork. Imagine that, right? We would be hitting our goals in no time flat. (Our stomachs would be flat too, all puns intended).
What if I told you that there are some vitamins and minerals that can help your body run better? And help in the processes that get you to lose that stubborn body fat? Now, I’m not saying to go out right now and buy all these vitamins. But, rather consider where improvements can be made in your diet when you understand the background of certain vitamins and minerals in your wellness journey. If you feel like you have a deficiency, consider discussing with your doctor who can prescribe a full vitamin blood work panel and your body running like a well-oiled machine.
The Relationship Between Vitamins and Metabolism
Would you know, the common complaint that is heard among many patients today is tiredness or fatigue. They get blood work done and they are Vitamin D deficient. Research has found that those who took 50,000 IU three times a week for five weeks not only brought their vitamin D levels within normal range but improved fatigue, emotional wellbeing and overall vigor.
To top that, it has been linked to improving the way your body metabolizes fat through the enhancement of hormone production and the neurotransmitters that regulate digestion. And that is just ONE vitamin out of the thirteen essential ones, not including minerals.
Now, picture a car that is running on regular unleaded gas, the kind of fuel a car really needs. You get excellent mileage, and the engine pistons ignite right when they need to. As you press on the accelerator the car responds with efficiency and speed. That gas has the right mix of ingredients to keep the car running smoothly with minimal problems.
Let’s take that same analogy for our body. When we consume foods that include all the vitamins and minerals needed to run optimally we get the best “gas mileage.” Rather, our body processes our fat, hormones and energy in a way that keeps us running lean and energized.
If that car is running on water combined with gas, or your body is running on only protein based foods, the inner workings of all body[mechanical] parts will not operate right. That is the relationship vitamins, minerals and all nutrients have on our metabolism.
What Vitamins Can Help Reduce Belly Fat?
When we have a diet filled with the right nutrients, in their right quantities (calories included), it keeps the joints lubricated, the metabolism burning fat and the energy levels high. Vitamins and minerals are actually part of the energy cycle such as our B vitamins and Iron. Where others are involved in hormone balance such as Vitamin D and Magnesium.
Each vitamin and mineral plays a vital role in metabolism and allows for proper signaling within our body. Let’s take a deeper look at what vitamins and minerals do in our body and weigh in with research on their efficacy towards reducing belly fat.
Yes, we all know this vitamin! The one that everyone talks about supporting immunity and preventing the common cold. It’s also involved in the production of collagen, a protein that keeps the skin plump and youthful.
Now, on to the big question, does it help with fat loss? In short, it helps with fat loss. It’s an important antioxidant that neutralizes unhealthy cells from causing damage within the body. As a matter of fact, those who have adequate levels of vitamin C burn 30% more fat during exercise described as fast walking, water aerobics and biking. Those who are deficient in the vitamin quite possibly have a resistance to losing fat.
Those who are obese in general tend to have a harder time with fat regulation at the cellular level. When combined with exercise and adequate vitamin C levels it helps the pathways involved with burning more fat efficiently.
Say hello to the sunshine vitamin! Vitamin D indeed comes from the sun and when it hits our skin through a chain of reactions is converted to the active form called D3 (cholecalciferol) by the kidneys. This vitamin is needed to help calcium absorption within your bones, improve mood and reduce fatigue.
Vitamin D however, appears to be much more than just a vitamin. It’s also considered a hormone due to its involvement in acting a messenger telling the body when it needs to absorb calcium. There is also a direct involvement in the way the body metabolizes glucose (sugar). Vitamin D may help to regulate blood sugar by releasing insulin, the hormone responsible for bringing blood sugar down, and supporting the cells with the energy needed.
Those who were deficient in Vitamin D were likely to have increased insulin resistance causing increased blood sugar causing the body to store it as fat. Therefore, having adequate vitamin D levels is associated with a lower body mass index and overall fat mass.
The B vitamins, also known as the “B complex” are directly involved in energy metabolism and are called enzymes. This means they are directly part of the pathways involved in how our body breaks down fat, carbohydrates and protein for usable fuel. Current research suggests that low Vitamin B12 levels are associated with obesity and overweight status. Rat studies showed a significant reduction in body weight and fat after B vitamin supplementation after twelve weeks.
However, there is conflicting evidence whether supplementing with these vitamins can help with fat loss due to limited and more comprehensive research studies in humans.
When we think of Calcium, I’m sure bone health is what comes to mind. It is a mineral that keeps bones strong and aids in muscle contractions during movement. New evidence is emerging that it is involved in the breakdown of fat at the cellular level. Calcium actually helps to stimulate insulin release into the blood but it can’t do it by itself without the help of Vitamin D. If there is limited Vitamin D available your body is unable to absorb the Calcium it needs.
It appears there is more conclusive research that Calcium supplementation combined with Vitamin D reduced overall body fat and visceral fat after twelve weeks. Since Vitamin D is essential in calcium regulation and it is all tied to insulin resistance, when there is limited calcium for Vitamin D to act on it could reduce the body's ability to metabolize fat in the way it needs to.
This mineral is absolutely essential in carrying oxygen to all parts of the body by way of your blood. About 70% of your body’s Iron is found in your blood! Without it, it’s as if your body can’t really breathe well which is why in a deficit the common complaint is tiredness. When your blood brings this oxygen to your muscles it can then help your body burn fat. For optimal absorption this mineral is prescribed along with Vitamin C.
Iron deficiency is often found in those who are overweight or obese due to low-grade inflammation blocking the bodies ability to transport Iron throughout the body. It is suggested that when combined with an energy restricted diet and increased physical activity with Iron supplementation it helps reduce the low-grade inflammation that blocks the body’s ability to transport Iron throughout the body.
This mineral is often used as a muscle relaxant helping the body to just relax. It helps to support proper nerve and muscle functioning as well as being involved in energy production. If you think about it, it is involved in promoting proper muscle signaling to your heart and muscles all throughout your body. Combined with Calcium, these two minerals, which are also known as electrolytes, keep these signals in check.
At this moment in time there isn’t any research pointing to Magnesium and its direct effects in fat loss. However, it can be concluded that if your goal is to reduce your fat mass, this mineral is helpful for you during your workouts. If you’re able to workout harder with less muscle cramps, you will essentially be able to lose that unwanted weight around your midsection.
How Do I Get More of These Vitamins Daily?
When growing up, remember being told, “Eat your fruits and vegetables, they are good for you!” Followed by your face of disgust when you try to chow down these foods that just simply aren’t your favorite cookie! Whelp, there is a lot of truth behind it. These food groups provide Vitamin C, Magnesium and even Iron. We also cannot neglect other foods such as whole grains, dairy and meat/meat alternatives.
To help get you started in targeting each of the food groups there is a simple visual method to assure you get what your body needs. It’s called MyPlate and when you focus on half of your plate with fruits and vegetables at most meals you’ll be sure to get the nutrients needed to help with fat loss. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan and concerned that you’re not getting enough Iron or B12 in your diet, considering a supplement could help rule out any deficiencies.
Will a Multivitamin Supplement Help With Belly Fat Loss?
Overall, if you think your diet currently doesn’t focus on every food group a multivitamin can certainly help. It goes without noting that each vitamin, mineral and nutrient is needed to work together to reach optimal results. If you’re deficient in a certain item, it simply trickles down the chain to disrupt other bodily functions. When taking a multivitamin your body will only hold on to what it needs and pee out the rest. If you’re truly deficient in one vitamin you may be prescribed or recommended to take that one alone to bring it up to a healthy range.
As noted, Calcium needs Vitamin D for proper functioning and when they are both deficient can likely cause fat accumulation. The same goes for Iron and Vitamin C. Iron needs Vitamin C to help with absorption. However, when a person has excess body fat Iron has a hard time being transported throughout the body. You see, every vitamin in the right quantities needs each other which is why it’s more appropriate to supplement what you're deficient in and maintain those levels through an adequate diet.
It’s always advised to speak with your doctor to find the right multivitamin for you since overdosing on some of the fat soluble vitamins and Iron can cause toxicity.
Weight Loss Tips from the Dietitian
When looking to lose weight, and get rid of that hard to lose belly fat it’s not a one size fits all approach. In much of the research, it showed enhanced benefits for fat loss when combined with exercise. The CDC recommends 150 minutes per week with 2 days being strength training days. Those strength training days can help build up muscle, which helps to reduce fat. Plus combined with the right amount and combination of foods to help. That fat loss places less stress and inflammation on the body enabling Iron to do its job. Then, when you enjoy a diet rich in a variety of vegetables and fruit you’re getting fiber and antioxidants that help with hunger cues and reduce harmful attacks to your healthy cells.
This in turn helps with energy levels, improved cognition, performance and improved quality of life. If you don’t know where to start, consider working with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who has been trained in strategies surrounding weight loss and behavior change. If you struggle with body image, emotional eating and physical limitations, get a team of personal trainers and therapists on your side to further help you reach your wellness goals.