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Last Updated on December 15, 2020

Do Vitamins for Weight Loss Work And How?

Do Vitamins for Weight Loss Work And How?

Have you ever had a friend that told you they lost weight by taking vitamins? I did! Let’s just say it didn’t workout for me as well as it did for him.

Everyone has been a culprit of trying a quick-fix solution to reverse years of bad habits, if only losing weight was as easy as popping some vitamin supplements in your mouth every morning. Unfortunately, it’s not.

However, don’t misunderstand. Vitamins can be useful in your journey towards losing weight, and that’s what we’re going to talk about.

Can Vitamins Help You Lose Weight?

Vitamins alone can’t do any wonders when it comes to losing weight. However, paired with the right kind of health practices, vitamins can be an invaluable partner in your fight against those few extra pounds.

Your body has a whole array of chemical reactions going on at any time, and a lot of these reactions use vitamins to regulate certain steps. Without an adequate supply of the proper vitamins, some of these chemical processes are bound to suffer, and your body won’t be running at its optimum functionality. When your body isn’t working as efficiently as it should be, some of your weight loss efforts will be futile.

When you supply your body with these essential vitamins in the form of supplements, you’re allowing your body to work at its top capacity, and preventing any sub-optimal processes from holding back any weight loss efforts.

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Which Vitamins Can Help with Weight Loss?

Vitamin D

A study done at the University of Minnesota found that overweight individuals with more vitamin D in their systems lost more weight after they started a weight loss regimen.[1]

Lucky enough for you, vitamin D is one of the cheapest vitamins you can get, it’s completely free. Your body can produce enough vitamin D simply by bathing in the sweet sunlight. But a lot of people are spending more and more time indoors and the sunlight isn’t an option. So there are numerous supplements on the market to help make up that deficit.

A deficiency of vitamin D is associated with weight gain and obesity, and a large percentage of Americans actually have sub-optimal levels of vitamin D.

In addition. Vitamin D can be found in foods such as tuna, beef liver, cheese, egg yolks, cereals and milk.

You can learn more about vitamin D here:

Everything You Need To Know About Vitamin D

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Vitamin C

We all know a little bit about vitamin C. We know that you can get it from a glass of orange juice, or that it’s great for keeping away a cold.

Did you know that it is beneficial for losing weight though? Research has shown that individuals with higher levels of vitamin C in their systems lost more weight than those with lower levels of vitamin C.[2] Supplements can be a great way to keep your vitamin C levels high, but increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables is a great way to get that vitamin C and go on a healthy diet at the same time.

Vitamin C can aid with a significant improvement on the absorption of iron in your body. It can be found in fruits such as kiwi, watermelon, pineapple, grapefruit, papaya, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries and strawberries.

Vitamin B12

Also known as cobalamin, vitamin B12 is a very important vitamin for maintaining a lot of bodily functions.[3] Vitamin B12 is important in the production and maintenance of red blood cells, nerve cells, and DNA. Apart from those functions, however, vitamin B12 is very important in regulating how your body processes certain nutrients.

When deficient in vitamin B12, your body opts to convert these nutrients into adipose tissue – that is, fat – instead of burning them off for energy. Keeping your body well stocked with vitamin B12 can help your weight loss efforts and keep you in top shape.

You can get vitamin B12 in supplements and animal products. It is very important to note, particularly for vegans and people going on vegetarian diets to lose weight, that vitamin B12 is not found in plant foods! Vitamin B12 can be found in sardines, beef, milk, fish, poultry, and eggs.

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Vitamin B1

Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, is related to vitamin B12 as they’re all part of the vitamin B complex. Just like its compatriot, vitamin B1 is benefitical in the fight against those extra pounds.

Vitamin B1 plays a very important role in regulating appetite.[4] Individuals deficient in vitamin B1 may find themselves eating a bit more regularly than they might like, which usually isn’t ideal especially when trying to lose weight.

Apart from that, vitamin B1 is important in processing your carbohydrates to energy. A vitamin B1 deficit could mean that your metabolism isn’t quite optimal and your body is storing those carbs as fat instead of burning them off.

Vitamin B1 can be found in all sorts of foods like milk, eggs, and grains. If you’re not a fan of those, vitamin B supplements are readily available, and they usually contain all the vitamins in the vitamin B complex. Vitamin B1 can be found in these foods oranges, pork, nuts, pasta, breads, and rice.

Minerals

These aren’t technically vitamins, but in colloquial speak, they are sometimes included.

There are quite a few minerals which can be bought as supplements which can be very helpful in weight loss regimens:

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Calcium has been linked to maintaining an optimal metabolic rate[5] and keeping blood glucose well controlled. Paired with vitamin D, calcium does a lot more than just keeping your bones healthy, but assist with weight loss. While supplements are also available, dairy products are rich in calcium as well as vitamin D.

Iron is integral in the structure of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the cells of the body. Low levels of iron can cause deficient production of red blood cells or anaemia.[6] A lower number of red blood cells means a poorer oxygen supply to the cells which can affect exercise and athletic performance when trying to shed some fat.

Magnesium is very important in the function of many enzymes, and also in the action of ATP, which is the main source of energy for cells.[7] A magnesium deficiency adversely affects metabolism, so its intake should be kept optimal through the consumption of foods like nuts, seeds, and grains.

Where to Go from Here?

While vitamins (and minerals) don’t do any of the heavy liftings when it comes to watching your weight, they keep your body in top shape and aid in optimum function, which streamlines the weight loss process and can prove very synergistic with other elements of the regimen, such as dieting and exercise.

Keep your diet healthy and balanced, and supplement as necessary to make your weight loss journey as smooth as possible. If you’re considering taking any of these vitamin supplements, make an appointment with your family doctor to look into recommended dosages for optimal health.

Last thing to mention, in combination with consuming these supplements remember to switch up your exercise programs. Do a spinning class, then the next day go lift some heavy weights. Every little bit counts!

More Resources About Weight Loss

Featured photo credit: Kimberly Nanney via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Sergio Pedemonte

CEO and Certified Personal Trainer of Your House Fitness

10 Best HIIT Workout Exercises to Burn Calories Fast Can You Really Detox Your Body to Achieve Weight Loss? How to Build Endurance Fast and Enhance Stamina 30-Minute Morning Workout Routine for Maximum Fitness 4-Week Weight Loss Exercise Plan to Shed Pounds Fast

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Published on April 8, 2021

6 Health Benefits of Beetroot Powder (And How To Choose A Good One)

6 Health Benefits of Beetroot Powder (And How To Choose A Good One)

Beetroots are vegetables rich in nitrates, antioxidants, and polyphenol compounds that have a role in improved cardiovascular function and exercise performance.[1] However, beetroot juice has limitations with storage and taste preference, and so other more convenient forms have been investigated. One of these forms is beetroot powder.

What Is Beetroot Powder?

Beetroot powder is made by dehydrating or drying out thin slices of beetroot (to remove all the moisture) and then grinding them into a powder. If you don’t like the earthy taste of beetroot, then beetroot powder might be an alternative since it is more concentrated than fresh beetroot but with a relatively neutral taste. One fresh beetroot is the equivalent of approximately one teaspoon of beetroot powder.

Powdered beetroot can be added to sauces, smoothies, pasta, gnocchi, curries, cakes, muffins, or anything you choose to add nutrients and color to. Watch out that your urine may change color too! Due to the natural sugars in beetroot, it can also be used as a natural sweetener. Beetroot powder is even used in natural cosmetics.

Beetroot Powder VS. Other Beetroot Products

One study looked at the total antioxidant potential, phenol compounds, sugars, and organic acids in beetroot juice, cooked beetroot, powder, and chips. They found higher amounts of total antioxidant potential and organic acids in the chips and powder compared with the juice and cooked beetroot.[2] However, it’s important to consider that it is a lot easier to take larger quantities of beetroot when powdered or juiced than just eating it and this means ingesting much more sugar.

6 Health Benefits of Beetroot

While beetroot may have potential health benefits, it’s not clear if these are temporary or have long-term effects. More research is needed to answer this question and what the optimal dose is. Most studies have focused on beetroot juice, with only a handful of studies investigating beetroot powder. There hasn’t been evidence so far to support the benefit of beetroot powder on blood flow.[3]

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Despite that, beetroot contains several different compounds with different properties. Here are the six health benefits of beetroot powder.

1. Beetroot Powder Is Rich in Nitrates

Firstly, beetroot powder is rich in nitrates. Nitrates have important roles related to increased blood flow, gas exchange, mitochondrial efficiency, and strengthening of muscle contraction.[4] By causing relaxation of the smooth muscles that encircle arteries and veins, nitrate leads to the dilation of these blood vessels, thereby lowering blood pressure. Nitrate medications are used for people with high blood pressure, angina, and heart disease to relax blood vessels, widening them to allow greater blood flow.[5]

A meta-analysis that combined 22 different trials and analyzed the results together found that additional beetroot juice significantly decreased blood pressure.[6] However, there isn’t evidence to support the long-term effects.[7]

2. Beetroot Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Secondly, beetroot contains antioxidant polyphenol compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties. Antioxidants are molecules that have the ability to neutralize free radicals and protect against cell damage that can lead to chronic diseases. Eating a diet high in antioxidants found in fruit and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of chronic disease.[8] Different polyphenol compounds are different colors, that’s why you will often hear about eating a rainbow of fruit and vegetables.

3. Beetroot Has Anti-Cancer Effects

Beetroot also contains betalains that have been found to have anti-cancer effects in cellular models in the laboratory.[9] Clinical trials are now needed to assess if there are potential anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects and the nature of these effects. While the anti-cancer effects of beetroot in humans aren’t known yet, including them in your diet may help and is unlikely to risk harm.

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4. Beetroot Powder Is a Great Source of Vitamins C and Folate

Beetroots are also a great source of vitamins C and B9 (folate). Vitamin C and folate have many important roles in our bodies. Vitamin C is required for the biosynthesis of collagen, which acts as a scaffold in the skin and ligaments. It is also has a role in wound healing and protein metabolism. Folic acid is vital for the production of healthy red blood cells, and cellular growth. Inadequate intake of vitamin C over a 3 month period can lead to scurvy, and smoking can further reduce the bioavailability.[10]

5. Beetroot Contains Essential Minerals

Beets also contain the minerals iron, manganese, and potassium. Iron has a vital role in the transportation of oxygen by healthy red blood cells. Over 40% of children worldwide have iron deficiency anemia and women of childbearing age are also at increased risk because of menstruation.[11] Potassium may actually prevent the harmful effects of eating excess salt (sodium chloride). Manganese has several roles including metabolism, bone formation, and the immune system. Beetroots are a great way of including all these micronutrients in your diet.

6. Beetroot Powder Is a Great Source of Fiber

Fiber is such an important component of our diet, with most of us needing to eat much more to reach the recommended daily amount of 30g. For every 10g of fiber you eat a day, you may decrease your long-term risk of bowel cancer.[12]

Fibre also acts as a pre-biotic, providing food for the friendly micro-organisms in your gut called the microbiota. There are trillions of micro-organisms in your gut that are now known to play a key role in inflammation and both mental and physical health. Eating beetroots can help to increase your fiber intake and support a healthy gut community.

It’s clear that for relatively few calories, beetroot contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, nitrates, and antioxidants. For these reasons, beetroot is labeled as a “nutraceutical” and supplementation has become increasingly popular.[13] While most studies have looked at the effects of beetroot on blood vessel dilation, there are still many unanswered questions about other potential benefits.

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How to Choose a Beetroot Powder

Like all other supplements, there is very little regulation. Therefore, it is very difficult to be sure exactly what is included in the supplement or assess the quality. My recommendations for choosing a supplement are to check for a product license and always buy from a reputable company.

There are, however, no agreed benchmarks for quality or efficacy. How much and how often are also unknown at this time. Try to avoid powders that have added preservatives, sweeteners, or artificial flavorings. Consider whether an organic powder is worth the extra money to you. I would avoid powders that have added silica to avoid clumping. Some supplements now use 3rd party companies to verify the contents.

There isn’t an agreed dose of nitrate or beetroot powder, so while some powders do contain nitrate content, it is difficult to know exactly what this means in practice. The higher the nitrate content, the more likely it is to have a beneficial effect on raised blood pressure. But if you don’t have high blood pressure, it’s difficult to know if more nitrate is beneficial.

In summary, look for:

  • organic beetroot powder
  • tested for quality by a 3rd party company
  • is free from preservatives, sweeteners, and artificial flavorings
  • avoid powders containing silica
  • buy from a reputable company
  • look at the nitrate content

How to Make Your Own Beetroot Powder

First, wash, peel, and grate your beetroots by hand or using a food processor. Then, place them on a tray, spread them out, and cover them with parchment or grease-proof paper to protect them from direct sunlight.

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Leave to dry until there is no moisture left and shake intermittently so that it dries evenly. When it snaps instead of bending and feels dry, it is ready for the next stage.

The drying stage can take up to four days depending on the air temperature. To speed up the drying process, you can do this on low heat in a saucepan for 15 to 25 minutes or in the oven at no higher than 180 degrees Celsius or in a dehydrator. If you use the oven or on the hob, just be careful not to burn the beetroot.

The final step is to grind the dried beetroot using a grinder. It can then be stored in an airtight container, avoiding sun-light for up to one year.

Should You Try Beetroot Powder?

Beetroot is a great vegetable that contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, nitrates, and fiber. The nitrates present in beets may lower your blood pressure in the short-term, but the long-term effects are not yet known. More research is needed to know about other potential benefits such as the effect on cancer.

So, while beetroot powder may have health benefits unless taken in excess, it is unlikely to have significant side effects. Large doses of beetroot, however, are associated with an increased risk of kidney stones.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, taking beetroot supplements is best avoided as there isn’t sufficient safety information. Beetroots do also contain fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols or FODMAPS for short. These are types of carbohydrates that are hard to digest and can cause symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome in some people. FODMAPS are thought to act as prebiotics, feeding the friendly micro-organisms that live in your gut (microbiota). So, for those people who can tolerate them, they are beneficial for a healthy gut.

More Resources About Beetroot

Featured photo credit: FOODISM360 via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] NCBI: Vascular effects of dietary nitrate (as found in green leafy vegetables and beetroot) via the nitrate‐nitrite‐nitric oxide pathway
[2] SpringerLink: Comparison of total antioxidant potential, and total phenolic, nitrate, sugar, and organic acid contents in beetroot juice, chips, powder, and cooked beetroot
[3] Maastricht University: Effects of Beetroot Powder with or without L-Arginine on Postprandial Vascular Endothelial Function: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial with Abdominally Obese Men
[4] PubMed.gov: Effects of Beetroot Juice Supplementation on Cardiorespiratory Endurance in Athletes. A Systematic Review
[5] PubMed.gov: Nutraceuticals with a clinically detectable blood pressure-lowering effect: a review of available randomized clinical trials and their meta-analyses
[6] PubMed.gov: The Nitrate-Independent Blood Pressure-Lowering Effect of Beetroot Juice: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
[7] PubMed.gov: Medium-term effects of dietary nitrate supplementation on systolic and diastolic blood pressure in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis
[8] NCCIH: Antioxidants: In-Depth
[9] NCBI: Red Beetroot and Betalains as Cancer Chemopreventative Agents
[10] Healthline: Beetroot 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits
[11] NCBI: The impact of maternal iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia on child’s health
[12] Cancer Research UK: Does a high fibre diet reduce my risk of cancer?
[13] PubMed.gov: The potential benefits of red beetroot supplementation in health and disease

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