Vitamins and minerals for weight loss: What you need to know

by | Jun 4, 2019 | Last updated Jan 6, 2023

  • Getting the vitamins and minerals your body needs will keep you feeling your best as you lose weight. 
  • Strict diets like keto and paleo may put you at risk for nutrient deficiencies.
  • Multivitamins can help you fill gaps in nutrients, but we recommend getting vitamins and minerals from food.

What role do vitamins and minerals play in weight loss?

There’s no magic supplement or vitamin that will cause you to lose weight rapidly and safely. Sustainable weight loss requires a more holistic approach.

That said, meeting your daily needs for vitamins and nutrients can support your overall weight loss goals.

Read on to get answers to common questions about vitamins and minerals for weight loss, as well as a roundup of important supplements that can help support your body as you lose weight.

Note: Consult with your medical provider before making dietary changes.

Ready to make a lasting change?

A healthier you, wherever you are.

Can vitamins and minerals help you lose weight?

The jury is still out on whether vitamins can reliably and safely speed up weight loss. 

Some studies and clinical trials looking into specific vitamins suggest they may help with weight loss—but we need more research to know for sure.

In one small study, female participants who received a multivitamin and mineral supplement for 26 weeks had a lower body weight. They also showed higher resting energy expenditure, which is how many calories your body burns at rest. 

Meanwhile, another study of middle-aged participants found that long-term use of multivitamins may help prevent weight gain, but it did not address weight loss specifically.

More important than the direct impact on weight loss is the role that vitamins and minerals play within the body.

These nutrients help provide energy, regulate chemical processes, and support the immune system. Your body needs vitamins and minerals to function well, so you can feel great as you lose weight. 

Surprisingly, research suggests that some popular diet plans can put people at risk for specific nutrient deficiencies

For example, restrictive diets, like keto and paleo, that make food groups “off-limits” may set you up for nutrient deficiencies. 

This is part of the reason Noom Weight believes no foods should be labeled as “bad” or “good”—everything is welcome in moderation. Losing weight shouldn’t mean depriving your body of essential nutrients. 

Taking a standard multivitamin to support weight loss probably won’t hurt the average, healthy adult. 

But before you jump into a new vitamin regimen, we recommend chatting with your doctor. They can give you advice based on your personal needs. 

What are the best vitamins for weight loss?

Let’s explore which vitamins can support your health as you lose weight, and which foods to eat to get these nutrients in your diet.

Keep in mind that nutritional needs vary and depend on many factors, like age and health conditions. 

The dietary recommendations below are based on guidelines from the National Institutes of Health and are intended for healthy adults who aren’t pregnant or breastfeeding.

Vitamin B12

The relationship between B12 and weight loss is still being studied, but research suggests that low B12 levels may contribute to the progression of obesity. 

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), B12 is a superpower nutrient. It keeps your nerve cells in top shape, helps your body make DNA, and prevents megaloblastic anemia. 

This type of anemia affects the size and number of red blood cells your body makes. It can also cause a severe dip in your energy levels. 

The NIH recommends 2.4 micrograms per day for the average adult. 

You can find B12 in a variety of animal products. But if you prefer a plant-based diet, you can use B-complex supplements or choose one of the plant-based options included in the list below. 

For a boost in B12, try to include some of these foods in your diet:

  • Clams
  • Beef 
  • Beef liver
  • Fish
  • Fortified, whole-grain breakfast cereals 
  • Fortified soy or almond milk
  • Nutritional yeast

Vitamin C

Research suggests that vitamin C may support weight loss goals.

In fact, one study found that people who get enough vitamin C may burn 25% more fat during exercise than people who are deficient. 

But if traditional exercise isn’t something you get excited about, don’t fret. At Noom Weight, we believe in finding ways to move through activities you actually enjoy—something we call “joyful movement.” 

In addition to weight loss, vitamin C offers many other health benefits. It can help protect cells from free radical damage, improve iron absorption, and help the body produce collagen. It can also boost your immune system. 

The NIH recommends 75 milligrams per day for adult women and 90 milligrams per day for adult men.

Although some animals can produce vitamin C on their own, humans can’t. So, it’s essential that you find ways to include it in your diet. 

For a boost of vitamin C, try out these fruits and veggies:

  • Citrus fruits, like oranges and grapefruit
  • Bell peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Kiwi
  • Strawberries

Vitamin D

Research suggests that vitamin D could have a positive influence on weight loss.

However, more research is still needed to determine how much is needed to see these effects.

That doesn’t mean you should just forget about vitamin D until more specific recommendations are made for weight loss. Vitamin D is crucial for helping your body absorb calcium and build strong bones.

For these benefits, the NIH recommends that the average adult consume 15 micrograms, or 600 international units, of vitamin D per day. 

Unfortunately, research points out several popular weight loss diets, like Atkins, may contribute to low vitamin D levels

You can get your recommended daily amount of vitamin D from foods, dietary supplements, and safe exposure to direct sunlight.

Some examples of foods that are rich in vitamin D include:

  • Fatty fish, like swordfish or salmon (bonus: essential fatty acids that help prevent heart disease)
  • Fortified dairy products, like milk and yogurt
  • Fortified orange juice

Ready to make a lasting change?

A healthier you, wherever you are.

What minerals are best for weight loss?

Research is exploring how minerals affect weight loss, but the results so far are mixed

Like vitamins, the intake of certain minerals can dip when you change your diet. 

Focusing on nutrient-dense foods will not only aid in weight loss—it can also help ensure that your body is getting the nutrition it needs.

Below, we’ll dig deeper into the minerals that may aid weight-loss efforts and the recommended foods for getting these nutrients daily.

Iron

According to research, your weight loss goals may be more difficult to achieve if you don’t get enough iron.

One small study found female participants with iron deficiency anemia experienced a significant drop in weight, waist circumference, and BMI after four to six months of iron supplementation. Because of the study size, however, more research is needed to confirm these findings. 

Iron also plays a vital role in your overall health. Your body uses it to make proteins that help carry oxygen to muscles and throughout your body. It’s also important for proper hormonal and red blood cell function. 

As with many other vitamins and minerals, restrictive weight-loss diets may limit the amount of iron you consume. 

Getting too much iron, on the other hand, can lead to serious side effects. If you’re curious about supplements, consider iron-rich foods first. Be sure to chat with your doctor before making any changes.

The NIH recommends 8 milligrams per day for adult men and 18 milligrams per day for adult women up to 50 years old. 

For women aged 51 or older, the recommended amount drops to 8 milligrams per day. Women who menstruate need more iron and are prone to iron deficiency due to blood loss

Recommended foods for a boost in iron:

  • Fortified whole-grain breakfast cereals
  • Oysters
  • White beans
  • Tofu
  • Dark chocolate

Electrolytes (essential minerals)

Electrolytes, like potassium, magnesium, and sodium, are minerals that you get from food and drinks

They impact many different functions in your body, including nervous system function, pH balance, and water balance. They also affect the transport of nutrients and waste to and from cells. 

When it comes to weight loss, there isn’t much research showing the effects of electrolytes. But it is known that keeping them in balance is crucial to feeling your best while losing weight. 

Certain factors, like sweating through a tough workout or overhydration, can affect how much water is in your body. This can cause your electrolyte balance to shift.

If the balance changes significantly, it can disrupt your body’s normal functions. This imbalance can cause muscle cramps and leave you feeling tired.

Daily electrolyte recommendations vary, but you can view your estimates with the USDA daily recommended intake calculator

If you’re on a low-carb diet for weight loss, talk to your doctor before making changes. Research suggests electrolytes can get thrown out of whack with diets that restrict carbohydrates.

Recommended foods for balanced electrolytes:

  • Table salt
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Bananas
  • Avocados
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

Reflection exercise:

Take a look at the foods we list in each section.

Are there any that you already love or want to try? If so, consider how you can incorporate them into your diet over the next week.

Food choices are key to weight loss success

You know that you need certain vitamins and minerals to feel great. But what if you could eat foods that pack a vitamin and nutrient punch and get you closer to your weight loss goals? 

Spoiler alert: you can. 

Try swapping foods that are low in nutritional value and high in calorie density (think sweets, soda, and chips) with nutrient-dense, low-calorie foods like fresh fruits and vegetables.

Remember, no foods are “bad”—healthy eating can include making room for your favorite treats. But aiming for foods that fill you up with fewer calories can help you feel fuller, longer.

Learn more about calorie density to make food choices simpler.