Posted on August 5, 2010 -
Many people think of a natural vitamin and mineral supplement as something used just to maintain basic health and well being. But when they find themselves taking 6 capsules of a herbal supplement, to aid their weight-loss program, they may decide that they can forgo their regular vitamin regimen. Quite the contrary. Vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and enzymes all have a role to play in a balanced weight loss program.
Those supplements that help to control body weight are divided into two categories. First are the energy nutrients, including magnesium and the B-complex vitamins, which are involved in the conversion of food to energy. They activate enzymes, which control the digestion and absorption of carbs, fats and proteins. Without the support of energy nutrients calories are not burned in the body’s cells and instead are stored as fat.
The other category is protector nutrients, which are those that defend the cells against damaging toxins. When there are insufficient protector nutrients the cells will be damaged by free radicals and other toxins, leading to impaired metabolism and ensuing weight gain. Protector nutrients include the anti-oxidants beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, and the minerals copper, manganese, selenium and zinc. Let’s have a look at some of these, and other nutritional supplements and how they will help you achieve your ideal weight.
Vitamin A: – Maintains the lining of the digestive tract which facilitates the absorption of nutrients. Necessary for the production of thyroid hormones, and helps the thyroid to absorb iodine, essential for proper thyroid function. Beta carotene, the precursor to vitamin A, is also an anti-oxidant, but those with impaired thyroid function (one symptom being obesity) cannot effectively convert beta carotene into vitamin A.
Vitamin B-1 and Vitamin B-2: – necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates. B-1 deficiency can aggravate hypoglycemia (low blood sugar.)
Vitamin B-5: – Also known as pantothenic acid, B-5 is essential for maintaining healthy adrenal glands. A deficiency in linked to depression, fatigue and insomnia. Increases the rate at which carbohydrates and fats are metabolized.
Vitamin B-6: – Necessary for metabolizing fat and protein, and for creating serotonin from the amino acid tryptophan. The neurotransmitter serotonin keeps us calm and helps to control the appetite, especially the cravings for carbs.
Choline and Inositol: – These B vitamins are known as lipotropic agents, which help the body break down fats in the blood and liver. Improving the liver’s ability to metabolize fat is an important part of any weight loss program.
Vitamin C: – An anti-oxidant also needed for supporting adrenal and thyroid function. Exhausted adrenal glands lead to low hormone levels (especially DHEA,) causing low energy and an imbalance of the sex hormones. High estrogen in women and low testosterone in men manifests often as undeserved weight gain.
Vitamin E: – If you are overweight it is likely that you are deficient in this important anti-oxidant, due to its’ tendency to become trapped in fat tissue. Vitamin E deficiency will reduce iodine absorption by the thyroid gland.
Chromium: – Regulates insulin production, which stabilizes blood sugar levels preventing the storage of carbohydrates as fat. A diet high in sugar and refined carbs tends to deplete the body of chromium, as it is used up in removing these sugars from the blood.
Iodine: – Deficiency results in hypothyroidism, which causes fatigue and weight gain, by slowing the metabolism down. Iodine is an essential building block of thyroid hormones, along with copper, selenium and zinc.
Alpha Lipoic Acid: – Stabilizes blood sugar, protects the liver, serves as an anti-oxidant and helps detoxify the body. Converts blood sugar into energy to be burned, rather than fat to be stored.
Digestive Enzymes: – Many overweight people suffer from poor digestion and enzyme deficiency. When food and supplements are not well digested, you can still feel hungry even though your stomach is full. This can lead to over-eating and weight gain.
Essential Fatty Acids: – When we go on a low fat diet it causes the body to hoard fat, since the body believes the environment is unable to provide enough fat for our metabolic needs. Thus, when we eat good fats, the body is comfortable enough to burn stored fat as a fuel. “Bad” fats however, use up and block good fats, so this is not an excuse to eat any kind of fat. Fish oil, flax seed oil and olive oil are some of the best fats to use.
Of course, we have only touched on some of the basic points linking nutrition to weight loss. And there are other nutrients which are also important, but where the link is more complicated (i.e. scientifically technical.) Please do more research yourself. Sometimes only one nutrient deficiency can cause a cascading effect on the glandular systems, leading to unnecessary weight gain. If you find a clue in articles like these, and confirm it with more related symptoms, you could be on your way to unraveling your particular weight gain puzzle.
For the ultimate full spectrum vitamin and superfood combination please see our Nutripods.