Vitamin B12 and Weight Loss


Recently many have heard about the link between Vitamin B12 and weight loss. Vitamin B12 and weight are linked, but not in the way in which many weight loss drug companies would have people believe.

Vitamin B12 and Weight Loss Not Synonymous

Vitamin B12 is a naturally occurring vitamin found in animal products like meat, fish and eggs. Here is what Vitamin B12 does for the body:

  • Helps produce red blood cells
  • Aids in mental clarity and acuity
  • Keeps nerves healthy - B12 helps to produce the fatty tissue around your nerves called myelin, which protects your nerves from damage.
  • Works to help produce Serotonin - This is one of the chemicals produced in your brain that helps you stay positive. Often referred to as a "feel good" chemical.
  • Helps to metabolize fat and protein - This gives you more energy.

Vitamin B12 does not cause weight loss. It helps contribute to weight loss though by helping metabolize protein and fat. When protein and fat are metabolized, it produces energy and having energy helps people lose weight. Due to this, many dieticians and scientists say that while Vitamin B12 doesn't help people lose weight, one of its side effects is that it does slow down weight gain because people with sufficient levels of Vitamin B12 in their diets tend to have more energy than those with a deficiency of the vitamin.

Vitamin B12 and Weight Loss Claims

As you get older, those extra pounds become more and more difficult to take off, especially in traditional problem areas like the stomach, hips and thighs. People who have tried to lose weight know how difficult it is and begin looking for an easy and quick fix to take the pounds off. They've tried everything from juices that claim their special formula will take ten pounds off in two days to pills that are supposed to encourage weight loss by blocking fats from food being absorbed into your body.

The biggest claim made by companies promoting vitamin B12 as a weight loss supplement is that it speeds the metabolism. B12 does help metabolize fat and protein but not in large enough quantities where it actually causes weight loss. Scientists, doctors and nutritionist state that the weight loss incurred by those receiving vitamin B12 shots and supplements is due to the fact that these people are eating healthier and are more active because they are trying to lose weight and not due to their increased intake of B12.

Why it Doesn't Work

Here are few reasons why vitamin B12 doesn't work as a weight loss supplement:

  • It's water soluble - The human body needs about three micrograms of vitamin B12 daily. B12 injections and supplements often have hundreds, if not thousands of percentages more than what your body needs. Since B12 is water soluble, whatever your body doesn't use, it gets rid of.
  • Supplements are an inefficient source of B12 - Supplements are fermented, so by the time your body finishes breaking down the multi-vitamin you take, you actually get a much smaller dosage of B12 than what the label states. So, for example, you take a multi-vitamin that claims to have 500 percent (1500 micrograms) of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of B12. By the time your body finishes breaking down the multi-vitamin tablet, it absorbs less than 2 micrograms, about 66 percent of the RDA, nowhere near the 500 percent the label touts. Given this low absorption rate for B12 supplements, it's best to get your daily dose of the vitamin through natural food sources.

Professionals note that supplements promising quick fat loss typically fall short. The ideal approach is to take in fewer calories than you use, focusing on healthy foods and increased activity. Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. from the Mayo Clinic states that no evidence supports the claim that B12, or any other B vitamin, makes anyone lose weight automatically.

Foods High in Vitamin B12

If you want to increase your B12 intake to increase your energy level, try adding these foods to your diet:

  • Mollusks - This includes clams, oysters, scallops and mussels.
  • Breakfast cereals fortified with B12
  • Yogurt
  • Salmon
  • Eggs
  • Turkey
  • Lamb
  • Lean beef

No Quick Fix to Weight Loss

Add B12 to your diet for increased energy and not for weight loss. The increased energy not only helps you with your everyday activities, but may also help you get on that treadmill or go to that aerobics class. No one really wants to hear it, but everyone knows that the only way to really lose weight and keep it off is a healthy diet and exercising. It isn't quick and sometimes, it isn't fun, but it works..

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Vitamin B12 and Weight Loss