Fitness

13 Best Vitamins and Supplements for Weight Loss

If your healthy diet and exercise plan aren’t producing results, you may just be deficient in one or more vitamins or key nutrients.

Weight-loss frustration

Bottles of prescription medicine in a pile. This collection of pill containers is symbolic of the many medications senior adults and chronically ill people take. David Smart/Shutterstock

You’ve tried the grapefruit juice diet, the cabbage soup diet, the baby food diet, cleanses, and detoxes, yet you’re still not seeing the results you want. It’s not surprising, as there are at least seven reasons you’ll simply never lose weight on a fad diet. So what’s left to try? Vitamins.

“As part of a healthy living plan that includes clean eating, exercise, and stress management, we find that vitamins and minerals can play a role in weight loss and weight management,” say Arielle Levitan, MD, and Romy Block, MD, authors of the book The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear the Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health. “Many, if not most of us, have nutrient needs that are unmet by diet alone. When we replenish these deficiencies with the right vitamins and minerals, in proper doses, then we can satisfy our body’s nutrient cravings and in turn, reduce our unhealthy eating.”

Many of the doctors’ patients report that once they begin a regimen that includes the right vitamins for their individual needs, they’re able to eat less while making better food choices, and find they have more energy to exercise and plan meals. In addition, they tend to sleep better—and that also helps with weight control. Sold? Here are the top contenders.

Iodine

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For those with an underactive thyroid gland, weight management can be challenging. Iodine is an often-overlooked mineral that supports your thyroid, the butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that controls your metabolism (and numerous other crucial body processes). While table salt is enriched with iodine, many people are switching to sea salt and other fancy options, and they may miss out on iodine.) “Some multivitamins contain the recommended amount of iodine (150 mcg daily), but many do not,” according to Dr. Levitan and Dr. Block. Just don’t overdo it: “Be wary of high-dose iodine supplements, as these can inflame your thyroid and lead to palpitations and anxiety.” Need help starting on your weight loss journey? These before and after photos are just the motivation you need to start losing weight.

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Vitamin D

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When you are low in vitamin D, your body will convert sugar to fat instead of energy, warns Dr. Friedman. Vitamin D levels are lower in overweight individuals as well as in those who are physically inactive and this deficiency is a common cause of obesity and metabolic syndrome. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that overweight and obese adults taking vitamin D supplements along with calcium lost significantly more stomach fat than people not taking any supplements. You may think you’re getting your daily dosage of vitamin D from the sun, but read up on the eight signs you’re not getting enough sunlight. The best way to see if you are deficient is to have your doctor check your blood levels. “If you are deficient in Vitamin D, there are two supplement options: vitamins D2 and D3,” says Dr. Friedman. “I recommend D3 because it is much more effective at raising vitamin D blood levels than D2.”

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Iron

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We’re facing two major health threats worldwide: Iron deficiency and obesity. And research suggests it is no coincidence. One study revealed a reduction in waist circumference, body weight, and BMI when patients were treated for their iron deficiency. Women are at particular risk, as they lose iron throughout their lives due to menstruation. “Those who are iron deficient may have trouble losing weight, and therefore, appropriately replenishing iron levels can help with weight loss,” according to Dr. Levitan and Dr. Block. “Typically iron should be paired with vitamin C to aid in absorption. In addition, iron plays a role in energy levels—when we feel energized, we are more inclined to exercise, which, of course, can assist with any weight loss efforts.” If you aren’t a big fan of red meat, up your intake of these 11 iron-rich foods that even vegetarians can enjoy or look for a supplement that provides just the right amount: Men need 8 mg per day; women require 18 mg daily. You should also check out some of the best probiotics for weight loss.

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