You already know that vitamins and minerals play an important role in overall health, promoting strong bones, joints, and muscles. But did you know the nutrients in your foods can also have a major impact on how quickly you achieve your weight loss goals?
Some weight loss nutrients, like vitamin B6, work directly to help our bodies burn more calories. Others, like calcium and iodine, can throw your weight loss goals off track if your body is deficient. By carefully monitoring the foods you eat and taking nutrient supplements when necessary, you’ll keep your metabolism running smoothly and stay on course to whittle your waistline. Here are 8 nutrients to lose weight.
1. Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 helps release energy from the protein we ingest. It also works to turn glycogen into glucose. Glycogen is energy in stored form, found in the liver. Vitamin B6 converts this stored energy into usable glucose, giving our bodies energy without eating more carbohydrates. Because of this, many believe healthy levels of vitamin B6 help us burn more calories and therefore, lose weight.
Vitamin B6 is found in chicken, white fish, eggs, milk, whole grains, and some vegetables.
2. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 helps your body make red blood cells and keeps your nervous system functioning at its best. It also helps the body convert fats and proteins into energy. Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to megaloblastic anemia, which is caused by a low count of red blood cells. One of the most common symptoms of anemia is fatigue.
To avoid anemia and keep your energy levels high, be sure to get plenty of vitamin B12 through your diet or from supplements. It’s found naturally in animal products, like meat, fish, shellfish, milk, and dairy products. Vegetarians and vegans may need to pay special attention to make sure they get sufficient amount of this nutrient.
If you’re maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly but are still failing to lose weight, you may be iodine deficient. Iodine is needed to make hormones in your thyroid, which controls your metabolism and in turn, weight loss. Those with low levels of iodine experience lower thyroid hormone production, sluggishness, fatigue and stalled weight loss.
If you suspect you might have an iodine deficiency, speak with your doctor about the right supplements for you. Also, incorporate iodine-rich foods into your diet, like cranberries, organic yogurt, strawberries, potatoes, and sea vegetables, like kelp. Kelp is one of the most iodine-rich foods on the planet.
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D facilitates our body’s absorption of calcium and phosphorus from foods, which keeps our bones strong and promotes a healthy body weight. Your brain’s receptors use vitamin D to manage hunger and cravings, so a deficiency can lead to unintentional eating.
Most of our vitamin D is obtained through sunlight, but as skin cancer awareness and sunscreen use rises, we’re getting less and less vitamin D from the sun. This means it’s important to get it from other sources, like oily fish, eggs, meat, and fortified cereals.
Calcium has dramatic effects on the health of our teeth and bones, but recent research also suggests it plays a key role in weight loss. When you’re calcium deficient, your body can experience up to a 500% increase in synthase, a fatty acid that converts calories to fat.
In a 2009 study, researchers studied obese women on a 15-week diet. One group solely followed a diet, while the other followed the diet and also took 1,200 milligrams of calcium each day. The group taking calcium supplements lost six times as much weight of the group on the diet only.
Iron is an important nutrient for producing red blood cells. Like vitamin B12, a deficiency in this nutrient can lead to anemia. This causes low energy levels and sluggishness, hampering your desire to exercise and eat right.
The funny thing about an iron deficiency is that it can actually cause you to lose your appetite. Nevertheless, a 2014 study found that patients who were properly treated for their iron deficiency experienced a significant increase in weight loss when compared to pre-treatment. You can prevent an iron deficiency by eating dark green, leafy veggies, nuts, eggs, poultry, whole grains, and fish.
This nutrient is a vital component of more than 300 chemical processes in our bodies, helping to release energy from foods and keep a proper water balance. On top of all that, it may also help with weight loss. In a 2013 study, researchers found that a higher intake of magnesium was associated with lower levels of insulin and fasting glucose, two markers tied to body fat and weight gain.
Magnesium is found in a variety of nutritious foods, including green leafy vegetables, bread, nuts, fish, meat, and milk products.
Fiber isn’t technically a nutrient, because it’s classified as a carbohydrate that can’t be processed by our bodies. Even so, we’ve included fiber on this list because it’s crucial for achieving maximum weight loss. Fiber moves materials out of our gut, flushing fat, lowering cholesterol and keeping glucose levels in check.
Fiber can be found in plenty of cereals, beans, fruits, and vegetables.