In a world where weight loss is a highly sought-after goal, people always search for the latest and greatest tips and tricks to shed those extra pounds. From fad diets to intense workout routines, there is no shortage of methods promising fast and effective weight loss. However, one nutrient that is often overlooked in this quest is vitamin B12. While it's well-known for its role in energy production and nerve function, recent research suggests that vitamin B12 could also play a significant role in weight loss. This article explores whether vitamin B12 is the secret nutrient for weight loss and how it can benefit your health.
What Is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a vital role in multiple functions of the body.
This vitamin is attached to the food you eat. Vitamin B12 metabolism starts in the mouth when food is mixed with saliva and ingested.
Two active forms of vitamin B12 are available - methylcobalamin and 5-deoxy adenosylcobalamin.
About 6% of adults and 20% of older adults (aged 60 and above) may be vitamin B12 deficient in the United States and the United Kingdom.
10-30% of adults may struggle to absorb vitamin B12 from food.
As a result, they may not be getting their Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of B12 every day.
Which Foods Give Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is more abundant in animal and dairy products than plant-based foods.
Some foods may have higher levels of B12, but their bioavailability value may be low. Bioavailability is the number of vitamins that can be absorbed from the food.
The bioavailability of B12 is three times more in dairy products than in animal products.
Similarly, bioavailability is 50% more in dietary supplements when compared to natural food sources.
The following are some of the foods rich in vitamin B12.
- Beef liver
- Ground beef
- Salmon, tuna, and clams
- Dairy products, including yogurt, milk, and cheese
- Nutritional yeast
- Fortified cereals
Understanding Vitamin B12 and its Functioning
Vitamin B12 plays various roles in the body, including the following.
- Red Blood Cell (RBC) production
- DNA synthesis
- Maintaining healthy nerve cells and brain cells
- Decreases the risk of neural tube defects in fetuses
- It may help boost energy levels
- It helps stabilize mood and reduce the risk of depressive disorders.
Does Vitamin B12 Help With Weight Loss?
Vitamin B12 helps with weight loss in several ways, including the following.
Effects Of Vitamin B12 On Body Fat
A 2016 study reports that pregnant women with low vitamin B12 levels in their first trimester had increased BMI levels compared to those with normal B12 levels.
A 2017 case-controlled study was conducted in Turkey, analyzing the effects of vitamin B12 levels on childhood obesity.
According to the study, children with low B12 had higher BMI levels than children with normal levels of B12.
A 2016 study on female mice reports that severe B12 deficiency may increase cholesterol levels and body fat percentages.
A 2019 study analyzed the effects of vitamin B12 deficiency on body weight in 9,075 American adults.
According to this study, obese and overweight individuals consistently had lower serum vitamin B12 levels than those with normal BMI levels.
Effects Of Vitamin B12 On Metabolism
Vitamin B12 in the body is converted into an active form called deoxyadenosylcobalamin.
Deoxyadenosylcobalamin plays a role in fat metabolism (the breakdown and storage of lipids).
According to studies, insufficient or partial breakdown of lipids may lead to increased weight gain and risk of metabolic conditions like type II diabetes.
Boosting vitamin B12 may help improve lipid metabolism and promote weight loss.
Effects Of Vitamin B12 On Physical Performance
Vitamin B12 deficiency may lead to fatigue and tiredness, preventing people from being physically active.
Physical activity helps burn calories, which directly influences weight loss strategies.
Therefore, supplementing vitamin B12 in those deficient in this nutrient may help improve their physical activity levels, which, in turn, will help them lose weight.
Effects Of Vitamin B12 On Gut Health
A 2022 study reports that gut microbial diversity and proper functioning are important for weight loss.
About 80% of the microbes in the gut need vitamin B12 to function.
A lack of vitamin B12 can alter the microbial profile in the stomach. Supplementing the right amounts of vitamin B12 can help improve gut health and support weight loss.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Weight Gain
According to experts, the link between vitamin B12, energy levels, and mood may answer why vitamin B12 deficiency leads to weight gain.
Vitamin B12 helps boost energy levels. Lack of vitamin B12 can decrease general energy levels in individuals, preventing them from being physically active.
Also, vitamin B12 helps maintain mental health, keeping the risk of mood swings and depression low. Mental health conditions may also contribute to weight gain.
Who’s At Risk For Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
The following people are at higher risk for vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Older adults - The ability to absorb nutrition from food decreases with age, putting them at higher risk for vit B12 deficiency.
- Vegans and vegetarians - Since most food sources of vitamin B12 are meat and dairy-based, people following a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle have a higher risk of being vitamin B12 deficient.
- Pregnant and lactating women - Pregnant and lactating women have higher vitamin B12 needs, increasing their risk of vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Individuals with gastric conditions - Different gastric conditions may reduce the ability of the stomach and intestines to absorb nutrients from food, putting them in a high-risk category for vitamin B12 deficiency.
- People with pernicious anemia - Pernicious anemia is an autoimmune condition that affects the stomach lining, preventing the absorption of essential nutrients. This can lead to vitamin B12 deficiency.
Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
The following are the signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Rapid breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- Megaloblastic anemia (abnormal and large RBCs)
- Low White Blood Cells (WBCs) and platelets
- Pale skin
- Fertility issues
- Neurological issues like tingling of hands and feet and numbness
Are Vitamin B12 Injections Useful For Weight Loss?
Weight gain or the inability to lose weight can be due to multiple factors, with vitamin B12 deficiency being one of them.
Vitamin B12 injections are easy ways to quickly improve B12 levels and promptly treat the signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Studies haven't found a direct link between vitamin B12 injections and weight loss.
However, improving B12 levels may improve energy, help with better metabolism, and reduce mental health risks.
A healthy diet, moderate physical activity, and normal vitamin B12 levels may help lose weight.
How To Meet Your Vitamin B12 Needs?
You can meet your vitamin B12 needs through food sources and dietary supplements.
The following are the Recommended Dietary Allowances for vitamin B12.
|Age||RDA of vitamin B12 (in mcg)|
Include healthy portions of beef, seafood, and dairy products in your everyday meals. Vegetarians and vegans can include nutritional yeast and vitamin B12-fortified foods regularly.
Vitamin B12 supplements are available as Over-The-Counter (OTC) oral supplements and lozenges.
Prescription supplements in injections or nasal sprays are available for people with diagnosed vitamin B12 deficiency.
Please consider dietary supplements only after consulting with your doctor.
- Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is needed for everyday body functions. This vitamin supports the nervous system, helps in DNA synthesis and production of RBCs, and also plays a role in mental health.
- Recent studies suggest that a lack of vitamin B12 may lead to weight gain or cause an inability to lose weight. Therefore, regularizing vitamin B12 levels may aid with weight loss.
- Lack of vitamin B12 can affect energy metabolism and people’s health, contributing to weight gain.
- Some of the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include tiredness, fatigue, loss of appetite, abnormally shaped RBCs, low White Blood Cells and platelets, shortness of breath, and stomach issues.
- Older adults, pregnant and lactating women, vegans and vegetarians, and people with gastric conditions are all at high risk for developing vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Watching one's diet, staying physically active, and improving vitamin B12 levels help one lose weight.
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9227236/ https://academic.oup.com/advances/article/13/2/530/6382126