NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS FOR SLIMMING
Written by Slawomir Gromadzki
– Good Multivitamin (not Centrum or other poor quality formulas). The ability to burn fat and reduce body weight greatly depends on the kind and quality of food you consume. The amount of certain vital nutrients such as especially omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, tryptophan, zinc, chromium, vitamin C, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, or co-enzyme Q will improve your metabolism increasing the effectiveness of the weight loss program.
Unfortunately, majority of people do not provide sufficient amounts of these nutrients, and in addition, some of us require more of certain vitamins and minerals than others. Apart from that, there are many reasons to believe that the majority of our food crops have been grown on mineral-depleted soils, which means there are less vitamins and especially minerals in fresh produce today. The plant foods we consume today may not contain sufficient amounts of nutrients also due to storing food for a long time. For example, it may take even several months for some fruits such as oranges (after they are picked) to be finally available in supermarkets. Many experts, therefore, suggest that virtually everyone in the Western World needs a good vitamin and mineral supplementation.
Assuming they are right, I always recommend taking a best possible multi vitamin and mineral formula which includes all the above mentioned nutrients, and also vitamin D, selenium, and iodine. The best example is the Optimum Multi Vitamin & Mineral by Phoenix Nutrition. Unlike most multi vitamins which contain trace amounts of poorly absorbed ingredients, Optimum Multivitamin uses only chelated minerals and coenzyme vitamins for maximum absorption and bioavailability. All 8 essential B vitamins are included, all at effective dosages and include high quality coenzyme forms of vitamins B2, B6, B12 and folate, namely Riboflavin 5’phosphate, Pyridoxal 5’phosphate, Methylcobalamin and L-5-Methyltetrahydrofolate (Methyl folate). The later, methyl folate, is superior to cheap, synthetic folic acid which many people have a genetic inability to convert into the active form. It also includes the natural forms of vitamin E and K. Most multivitamins will synthetic forms of these vitamins but this formula contain d-alpha-tocopheryl succinate and the MK-7 form of vitamin K2.
– Chromium helps to support proper glucose metabolism and aids the breakdown of protein and fat. Study by Harris et al (1998) revealed that chromium picolinate combined with L-carnitine and exercise significantly increased fat loss as compared to the control group. Some experts, however, suggest that chromium can be helpful in reducing body weight only when it is combined with regular exercise. The best natural sources of chromium are broccoli, whole grains, whole-grain breads, Brewer’s yeast, grapes and grape juice, mushrooms, asparagus, green beans, bananas, brown rice, and nuts. Also poor soil quality and food processing tend to deprive foods of natural chromium, making our diets low in this mineral. In 1968, it was confirmed that when animals did not receive sufficient doses of chromium, insulin was not optimally effective (Schroeder, 1968). This discovery inspired dietitians to recommend a daily chromium intake of approximately 150 mcg. Combining chromium with picolinic acid improves chromium absorption. For this reason Chromium Picolinate is regarded as the best supplement of this trace mineral. However, if you practice dietary principles found in this article and stick to the plant-based unrefined diet you should supply your body with sufficient amount of this trace mineral. Nevertheless, for safety reasons, you can still use chromium supplementation but not more than 50 to 100 mcg a day after meal.
– Zinc deficiency is associated with insulin resistance, obesity, and often even with anorexia and bulimia nervosa. There are people who recovered from anorexia and bulimia after taking zinc supplements because in their case the main problem was zinc deficiency. Study conducted in obese children, demonstrated that zinc supplementation significantly reduced glucose and insulin levels. Zinc has important effects on metabolism, and on the thermoregulation of obese individuals. Obesity combined with zinc deficiency promotes the development of a chronic systemic inflammation. Obese individuals have an increased incidence of developing zinc deficiency, have lower dietary zinc intake and therefore exhibit more systemic inflammation. Zinc deficiency perturbs immune functions and promotes systemic inflammation and zinc supplementation restores normal immune function. Recent studies have demonstrated that obesity can be associated with systemic inflammation which leads to atherosclerosis, asthma, and other health problems. In obese people, adipose tissue releases specific adipokines which lead to infiltration by macrophages thus promoting the production of inflammatory mediators.
High amounts of zinc can be found in whole meal breads, whole grains, pumpkin seeds, garlic, mushrooms, nuts, and seeds. If you need zinc supplementation zinc gluconate is believed to be the best one (not more than 100 mg a day with meal). In case it causes nausea try to reduce the intake.
– Vitamin D deficiency is associated with high body fat, high blood sugar levels, and decreased insulin sensitivity. A region of the brain called the hypothalamus, which controls both weight and glucose levels, has vitamin D receptors. Therefore, lack of vitamin D is a risk factor for the development of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Vitamin D improves insulin sensitivity, regulating blood sugar levels and reducing insulin resistance.
Present scientific studies and research suggest that obesity may be associated with vitamin D deficiency because apart from improving fat cell metabolism vitamin D can also act as an appetite suppressant which effect is achieved by stimulating the release of leptin. New studies give evidence that vitamin D helps us to burn more calories by making fat cells more metabolically active, and by turning our body from a fat-storing into a fat-burning mode. Apart from that, according to some specialists, vitamin D can be trapped within the fat and cannot be easily released. This means that obese and overweight individuals actually require twice as much vitamin D as people with normal body weight.
A study by researchers at the University of Minnesota demonstrated that participants who were overweight had better results in losing weight after increasing their vitamin D intake. Scientists believe that the difference was caused by the fact that vitamin D deficiency (and lack of calcium) stimulates production of certain fatty acid and enzyme called synthase, which in our body increases conversion of calories into fat. Thus sufficient amount of vitamin D intake prevents this process and helps to cope with obesity. According to Dr. Peterson, using high dosages of vitamin D obese people can lose a lot of weight especially in the first week and then up to 15 pounds during the 1-month period.
– Iodine is one of the important essential nutrients, which means that it must be consumed in our diet. It is necessary to the production of the thyroid hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine responsible for proper metabolism. Unfortunately, since today plants often grow on soils which are deficient in iodine and thus they are low in this important mineral we are encouraged to use iodine supplements. It is estimated that our iodine levels have fallen by 50% over the past three decades as a result of the fact that more than 30% of the earth’s soil became deficient in this mineral.
Apart from soil depletion there are other possible causes of iodine deficiency such as bromine which is a common endocrine disruptor. Bromide can get into our body with pesticides, soft drinks, breads or other baked goods, fluoridated water, plastic containers, medications, etc. Bromide competes with iodine to be used in the thyroid gland. In this way bromide leads to iodine deficiency in thyroid gland and inhibits thyroid hormone production resulting in slower metabolism, fatigue, hair loss, and other undesired symptoms.
Avoid toothpastes with fluoride, as it is toxic and competes with iodine for absorption and utilization, so less dietary iodine is absorbed, and iodine is absolutely essential for proper thyroid function. Unfortunately, our diets are very often deficient not only in iodine, but also zinc, selenium, and manganese needed for adequate thyroid functioning.
A study published in 2011 indicated that iodine-deficiency could be a huge problem also in the UK. According to the study 70 percent of UK girls age 14-15 are iodine deficient suggesting that this problem might be linked to IQ declines. In the United States, however, although the health organizations tend to suggest that Americans consume adequate amounts of this mineral, yet some experts such as Dr. David Brownstein, maintain that almost all his patients are iodine deficient.
A careful analysis of the scientific research dealing with iodine leads to the conclusion that iodine deficiency could be responsible for many underlying conditions such as goiters or the swelling of the thyroid gland, hypothyroidism (thyroid produces too little thyroid hormone) leading to fatigue and difficulty losing weight, ovary and breast cancer, or fibromyalgia, loss of energy, cold intolerance, dry skin, sleepiness, muscle pain, joint pain, constipation, depression, mental impairment, forgetfulness, menstrual disturbances, impaired fertility, inability to concentrate, etc.
Pregnant women are particularly susceptible to possible negative effects of iodine deficiency as adequate levels of this essential mineral are critically important for the proper neural development of the fetus. In addition, iodine deficiency is known as the most common causes of preventable brain damage, mental retardation, and cognitive decline.
It is suggested that iodine intake for adults should be at least 150 mcg per day. Pregnant should increase their daily consumption to 220 mcg and lactating women to 300 mcg. Dr. David Brownstein who is regarded by many as an iodine expert, suggests that the recommended daily allowance for iodine is way too low. As an example he points to the Japanese whose average daily intake of iodine is as high as almost 14,000 mcg per day due to their diet which is rich in sea weeds! It means that the daily iodine intake in Japan is almost 90 times higher than in America and over 100 times higher than in the UK, which fact may contribute to much better health status of Japanese people such low cancer rates in Japan. Some studies already suggest that it could be also the result of considerably higher intake of iodine which has been known of its antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.
Well, it looks like we need much more than only 150mcg of iodine a day. The best natural sources of iodine are seaweeds such as spirulina, chlorella, or kelp. Including any of these three algae in the form of tablets or powder as part of your regular diet will ensure you receive an adequate amounts of iodine thus supporting your thyroid health and improving metabolism. Also proper daily intake of vitamin C and magnesium is important as it enhances the effects of iodine. Using sea salt instead of refined salt will help to increase your iodine intake too.
However, you need to be very careful choosing proper iodine supplement and doses because too much iodine may lead to subclinical hypothyroidism. Normally hypothyroidism takes place as a result of iodine deficiency which causes thyroid to produce too little thyroid hormone and thus leading to fatigue or difficulty losing weight. Ironically, the same may occur as a result of taking too much of iodine.
If you decide to use a synthetic form of iodine it shouldn’t be iodine but iodide (a stable form of iodine) as our thyroid has to convert iodine into iodide and as a result some harmful oxygen radicals will be produced. Iodide supplementation is usually recommended in case of some nuclear disaster and radioactive activity as it protects thyroid by flooding it with iodine to prevent it from absorbing the radioactive form. However, it is much safer to use only natural forms of iodine found in foods such as chlorella, spirulina, or kelp as it will not lead to any harmful side effects in case your iodine intake is too high. Taking too much of potassium iodide, on the other hand, can lead to thyrotoxicosis (overactive thyroid).
– Vitamin B12, like other B vitamins, helps convert macro nutrients (including fats and carbs) to energy and therefore support metabolism and helps maintain normal body weight. Unfortunately, deficiency of vitamin B12 is very widespread today and easy to miss as its blood level is not an adequate marker of whether or not we are deficient.
First of all, you should be aware of the fact, that because the chemical structure of this vitamin is very complex its proper absorption in our body depends on many factors. For example, a proper stomach acidity is required for this vitamin to be properly absorbed later in the intestine. Antacid drugs, therefore, by reducing gastric acid production cause decrease of vitamin B12 absorption leading to its deficiency. Also some diabetes drugs may trigger the same effect. Therefore, even if you are not a vegan you may still need the supplementation as meat and dairy eaters also often experience symptoms of cobalamin deficiency due to the problems with absorption or other factors such as stress, depression, and use of stimulants or laxatives. Apart from that, people at higher risk for vitamin B12 deficiency include especially elderly people, strict vegetarians, breastfed infants, and people with increased vitamin B12 requirements associated with kidney or liver disease, pregnancy, hemorrhage, or malignant cancers.
Vitamin B12 deficiency (sometimes together with folate deficiency) is a cause of anemia (megaloblastic or pernicious) which is expressed in an abnormal neurologic symptoms such as muscle weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, constipation, sores at the corners of the mouth, mood disturbances, dementia, memory loss, personality changes, depression, spasticity (condition in which muscles are continuously tight or stiff), severe neurological pain, vision changes, incontinence, spasticity of muscles (shaky movements), low blood pressure, vision problems, dementia, etc.
Because of the great variety of possible symptoms vitamin B12 deficiency can mimic many diseases such as depression, psychosis, or even Parkinson’s disease. Since vitamin B12 deficiency may damage the myelin sheath which surrounds the nerve fibers, it can also mimic the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS). Researchers have reported that these symptoms may sometimes occur even when vitamin B12 levels are just slightly lower than normal.
Depending on your diet, lifestyle and all the mentioned above factors which may influence the absorption of vitamin B12 I would recommend taking 1000mcg of active vitamin B12 supplement (in the form of methylcobalamin) every day with the first meal. Though RDA for adults is only 2.4 µg of vitamin B12 per day the suggested above amount is hundreds times higher because only about 1 percent of ingested B12 from supplements is absorbed while all the rest is removed with urine.
– L-Carnitine is a biologically active form of amino acid carnitine which is very useful in weight control. It is produced in our body from the amino acids methionine and lysine. Also vitamin C, B6, B3, and iron, are required for the production of L-carnitine. L-carnitine releases energy from fat, transports fatty acids into mitochondria, the powerhouses of cells. It also lowers triglycerides and total blood cholesterol levels while raising good HDL-cholesterol.
There are to forms of Carnitine available in health food shops: L-carnitine and Acethyl L-carnitine (ALC). They are just two different forms of the same amino acid – Carnitine, but they work somewhat differently. The L-Carnitine can be used by those who want to lose weight or increase their physical performance and endurance as it converts fat into energy. ALC, on the other hand, unlike L-carnitine is able to pass the blood-brain barrier and energize the brain. In addition ALC seems to be effective in slowing down aging process and dementia by reducing oxidative damage to the brain triggered by free oxygen radicals. According to the 2004 study by Prof. L. Liu and his colleges, “ALC and L-carnitine are similar in increasing ambulatory activity in old rats and elevating carnitine levels in blood and brain. However, ALC was effective, unlike L-carnitine, in decreasing oxidative damage in old rat brain. These data suggest that ALC may be a better dietary supplement than L-carnitine.”
L-Carnitine supplements seem to be safe, with no significant side effects being reported in any of the human clinical studies.
– Alpha Lipoic Acid is a fatty acid found naturally inside every cell in our body. It converts glucose (blood sugar) into energy. Alpha lipoic acid is also a very strong antioxidant, which means that it is able to neutralize harmful free radicals, and it can even recycle antioxidants such as glutathione or vitamin C after they have been used up. Like Acethyl L-carnitine alpha lipoic acid can cross the blood-brain barrier where it improves brain functions and slows down the aging process. In addition it might be very helpful in treating conditions such as peripheral neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, dementia, diabetes, cataracts, glaucoma, Alzheimer’s disease, or stroke.
Tory M. Hagen, assistant professor at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, conducted a very interesting study on old rats feeding them with food which included small doses of Alpha lipoic acid and Acethyl L-carnitine. According to the results of the study, Alpha lipoic acid and Acethyl L-carnitine significantly improved memory and efficiency of energy producing mitochondria thus empowering cells. Professor Hagen said that at the end of that experiment, “the animals seemed to have much more vigor and were much more active than animals not on this diet, signaling massive improvement to their health and well-being… and also reversal in loss of memory.” Another scientist – Bruce N. Ames, professor of molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley, commented the same experiment with the following words: “With the two supplements together, these old rats got up and did the Macarena… The brain looked better, they were full of energy – everything we looked at appeared to be more like a young animal.”
Although Alpha lipoic acid is made in our body, yet the older we are the less of this precious antioxidant is produced. For this reason we are encouraged to use Alpha Lipoic acid in the form of supplements, all the more since only very small amounts of this acid can be found in foods such as spinach, broccoli, peas, Brewer’s yeast, Brussels sprouts, or rice bran.
Alpha lipoic acid supplements are available in health food shops. For better absorption, it should be taken on an empty stomach.
– Chitosan is a dietary supplement which is supposed to reduce fat absorption. It is made from the shells of crustaceans such as shrimps, crabs, or lobsters. However, although manufacturers claim that supplements of chitosan can reduce fat absorption, this claim can’t be supported by scientific data. Some also suggest that chitosan might be actually helpful but only in huge doses which means you will be much better off without it.
Any information or product suggested on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Consult your primary healthcare physician before using any supplements or making any changes to your regime.