bite my words

Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Vitamins: Natural weight loss pills?

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A friend alerted me to this article on the Livestrong website. While, the site does have some useful and accurate information, this article on weight loss vitamins is not. It suggests the following vitamins are useful for weight loss: B vitamins, choline, calcium, and chromium. Sorry to say it, but if taking vitamin supplements promoted weight loss then there wouldn’t be so many people struggling to lose weight.

B vitamins play an important role in energy metabolism. This does not mean that they increase energy expenditure and promote weight loss. The need for B vitamins may increase with high levels of exercise; however, most of us get plenty of B vitamins from our diets. The B vitamins are water soluble which means that there’s not a great risk of toxicity from taking supplements but it also means you’re just going to pee out any excess. Unless your diet is inadequate or you’re an alcoholic, there’s no reason to take a B vitamin supplement. There is no evidence that supplementation with B vitamins will promote weight loss.

Our bodies produce choline. However, it appears that we do need some dietary sources as well. Most people consume more choline than we need (RDA is 550 mg for adult men and 450 for adult women, and we generally consume 700 – 1000 mg a day). Choline is associated with learning, memory, and muscle control, not weight loss. The upper level for choline is 3.5 grams per day based on low blood pressure and a fishy body odour. High doses can result in vomiting, salivation, sweating, and negative GI tract effects. As choline is widely available in foods, and there is risk associated with excessive intake I would advise against taking a supplement without consulting with your doctor or dietitian.

Calcium is important for bone and tooth growth and strength as well as muscle contractions and other cell functions. Many of us don’t get enough calcium in our diets. However, there is no reason to believe that consuming a calcium supplement will cause weight loss. You may want to consider taking a supplement if you’re not obtaining enough calcium-containing foods, although it would be better to aim to consume more calcium-rich foods like canned fish, leafy green vegetables, tofu, milk or fortified milk alternatives, cherries, and beans, etc.

Less is known about chromium than the other vitamins and minerals mentioned in the article. Most of us consume enough chromium in our diets. Chromium deficiency can lead to impaired glucose tolerance which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. There is little information about chromium in foods. The most reliable dietary sources are: meats, whole-grains, egg yolks, mushrooms, broccoli, nuts, legumes, and beer. The most common form of chromium in supplements differs from the form found in foods and can lead to the production of harmful free radicals. Definitely doesn’t sound like a supplement I would want to take.

If you want to lose weight you’re going to need to make changes to your diet. Supplements are not the answer.

Author: diana chard

I'm a registered dietitian living in Nova Scotia, Canada. My goal is to help people relearn how to have a healthy relationship with food.

One thought on “Vitamins: Natural weight loss pills?

  1. Who wrote the artivle and who wrote this? Are you medical Dr’s?

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