The supplement market is rife with options to add to our dietary intake and boost our nutritional health. Many of us take dietary supplements to enhance our overall well-being, but we also seek targeted supplements to accomplish specific goals. As we age, flagging energy levels and creeping weight gain lead many women to wonder if specialized supplements can offer relief. Of course, there is no shortage of products advertised to support weight loss efforts, and all supplement manufacturers promise results. But before reaching for a specific vitamin or mineral supplement, it’s essential to establish which dietary additives will meet your needs and understand how much and when to take it.
Though there is no magic pill to accomplish weight loss and provide energy throughout the process, there are supplements readily available to support your journey. So what are the best women’s vitamins for energy and weight loss with real science behind them?
The Best Women’s Vitamins (and Other Supplements) for Energy and Weight Loss
An effective weight loss plan requires that you take a look at your energy consumption and your energy expenditure. To put it simply, to lose weight you must create a calorie deficit—calories out must exceed calories in. Creating this deficit will likely involve tweaking both your diet (calories consumed) and adjusting your physical activity level (calories burned). This will force your body to use energy stored in body fat to fill the deficit.
Planning your diet to create that calorie deficit may be accomplished in several ways. Counting calories and balancing macronutrients are two popular methods. There are plenty of user-friendly meal planners, recipes, and apps to guide you on your journey. But diet and exercise are hard work. Adding dietary supplements may be an effective way to provide targeted support with carefully measured ingredients that enhance your efforts and aid in your success. But with so many supplements on the market that boast miraculous results, you may be wary.
If you are looking for supplements to help you maintain energy and support you throughout your weight loss efforts, reach for those that have been researched and proven to impact overall well-being while supporting healthy weight loss.
Vitamin D has significance as a global health issue due to the high incidence of its deficiency and its wide implications for human health. It is well-known to be critical for the formation and maintenance of strong, healthy bones and teeth but has also been implicated in the prevention and/or treatment of cardiovascular disease, type 1 and 2 diabetes, depression, hypertension, asthma, infections, multiple sclerosis, and cancer. Though often asymptomatic, many adults are found to have a subclinical deficiency when their vitamin D levels are tested. Supplementation has been credited with lowering the incidence of vitamin D deficiency.
The importance of vitamin D as a protective factor for vital body functions outside of the musculoskeletal system, including improved immunity and reducing inflammation, suggests that ensuring adequate levels during weight loss efforts is key to maintaining good health. As such, vitamin D is arguably one of the most important nutrients to support bone health, protect overall wellbeing, and preserve quality of life when your goal is to lose weight.
Though vitamins are essential nutrients—those that must be consumed because they are not produced in the body—vitamin D is an exception. It is produced endogenously from fat under the skin through conversion by UVB light waves. While sunlight is the best and most efficient way to get vitamin D, a safe level of sun exposure has not been defined. Many people strictly limit sun exposure to minimize skin cancer risk and therefore do not get adequate amounts of this critical vitamin.
The recommended daily allowance is 600 IU for teens and adults, increasing to 800 IU for adults over age 70. Though nutrition experts emphasize that nutritional needs are best met through diet, few foods naturally contain vitamin D. As such, vitamin D supplements can have significant value, especially when taken with food to aid absorption.
Supplementation is a proactive strategy that may offer particular protection during periods of calorie restriction for weight loss. It is especially beneficial when there is a great deal of weight to lose and in people who undergo bariatric surgery. Studies have found that vitamin D deficiency is common in obese individuals (BMI >30), as it is thought that the excess fat under the skin traps the vitamin and prevents its release into the bloodstream.
Chromium, a mineral and essential nutrient, has been the subject of significant research interest since the 1950s, and active research continues today. It has been proposed that chromium promotes fat loss and increases lean muscle mass and that it may help to curb appetite and reduce cravings. Since it is known to enhance the action of insulin, which in turn influences the metabolism and storage of carbohydrates and fats, the potential impact of chromium on diabetes, insulin resistance, and its implications for weight loss continue to be of great interest to the medical community. One significant study found positive indicators (improved body weight, BMI, fasting glucose, insulin sensitivity, C-reactive protein levels, and blood pressure) when diabetic patients with coronary heart disease were treated with chromium supplements.
The primary limitations to conclusive research findings seem to be the difficulty in accurately measuring chromium in body fluids and tissue samples and the challenge posed in assessing a person’s chromium status over time. But because the potential benefit is strong, scientists continue to search for more effective ways to measure chromium and to conduct impactful and reproducible research studies.
Because our bodies only require tiny, trace amounts of chromium, it is considered a micronutrient. Though the earth mineral chromium is found naturally in many foods, including meats, grains, fruits, vegetables, and spices, their exact mineral content is hard to measure and extremely variable, as it is affected by various farming and manufacturing processes. As such, supplementation may be the most reliable method for acquiring a specific daily dose.
Chromium is available in supplement form as chromium picolinate, among others. The recommended dosage is 20-25 micrograms for women, double that when breastfeeding. Under the recommendation of a physician, however, the dose of chromium may be increased to 100-600 micrograms or even 1000 micrograms per day. Though taking higher doses of chromium has not been found to cause toxicity, it does interact with several groups of common medications, including antacids, beta-blockers, corticosteroids, and NSAIDs. For this reason, before starting any supplements, you should always consult with your physician.
It is clear that a lot of questions remain regarding the exact action of chromium in the human body and its potential benefit for diabetes and insulin resistance. But since supplementation is safe with few/minor side effects, it may contribute in a meaningful way to your weight loss efforts by reducing body weight and improving body composition, particularly for diabetics and those at risk of developing diabetes.
One of the most beneficial tools in the weight loss arsenal is dietary fiber. Fiber refers to the indigestible fibers of the plant parts consumed in our diet. Unlike the macronutrients—proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids—which our bodies break down and absorb, fiber passes largely unchanged through the digestive system. Additionally, the highest levels of fiber are often found in the foods we call “healthy”—fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and consuming healthy, fiber-filled foods is considered a particularly effective weight loss strategy.
There are two types of fiber, both of which are important to our efficient digestion and processing of the food we eat:
- Soluble fiber dissolves in liquid forming a thick gel. This gel is partially digested by bacteria in the intestines, promoting the presence of the beneficial bacteria that live in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The fermentation of soluble fiber in the intestines creates short-chain fatty acids that nourish intestinal cells, promoting anti-inflammatory and immune functions. Soluble fiber is found in grains, including oats and barley; in fruits such as berries, apples, and citrus; and in vegetables like peas, carrots, and beans. As food moves through the intestines, soluble fiber gel provides insulation, helping to block the absorption of some fats and carbohydrates. This effectively lowers blood cholesterol and prevents blood glucose spikes by limiting the absorption of these nutrients.
- Insoluble fiber describes the indigestible plant parts that contribute bulk to our solid wastes, helping them move through the intestines and carrying them out of the body. Many plant parts are indigestible and contribute insoluble fiber to our diet. These include whole wheat and brans, as well as nuts, and the fibrous skins and stalks of many vegetables like beans, legumes, and potatoes. Insoluble fiber helps to prevent constipation and intestinal blockage. By helping to keep waste products moving through the GI tract, insoluble fiber limits the contact of toxins with the intestinal mucous membrane, helping to reduce the risk of inflammatory diseases, including diverticulitis and colon cancer.
As an aid to weight loss, the effect of fiber intake is three-fold. First, the bulk of fiber helps us feel fuller, which signals us to stop and eat less. Then, as fiber helps to carry food through the GI tract, waste elimination occurs faster limiting time for nutrient absorption. And lastly, fiber insulates food on its journey through the intestines, thus further decreasing the amount of absorption possible.
Both forms of fiber are helpful for weight loss. Bulking up your intake of fruits and vegetables will significantly increase both soluble and insoluble fiber. However, supplementing your dietary intake of soluble fiber is also a proactive strategy to complement your weight loss efforts. Inulin, methylcellulose, pectin, and psyllium all contain soluble fiber and are available as supplements. Fiber supplements depend on water, so their use should be accompanied by added water consumption.
Supporting Your Weight Loss Efforts
As you organize your plan to achieve successful and sustainable weight loss, you should primarily focus on balancing nutrients and increasing physical activity. But calorie restriction can often mean nutrient deficits are created. For help choosing the best women’s vitamins for energy and weight loss as well as other beneficial supplements that add value to your efforts, contact your healthcare provider. They can help to evaluate your needs and examine prescription medications alongside supplement choices to avoid contraindications and identify potentially dangerous interactions. In this way, you can use dietary supplements to your benefit to safely and effectively maximize your results and increase the likelihood of sustainable weight loss.
If you need guidance identifying the best women’s vitamins for energy and weight loss, BodyLogicMD can help. The BodyLogicMD network is comprised of top medical professionals who can help you analyze your baseline and create a personalized plan to accomplish and maintain healthy weight loss. Contact a local practitioner to schedule your first appointment, or take the BodyLogicMD Hormone Balance Quiz to find out how hormones may be impacting your weight and overall health.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. All content on this website is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases.
Charlotte is a patient care coordinator specializing in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. She is committed to helping patients who struggle with the symptoms of hormonal change and imbalance explore their treatment options and develop effective strategies to optimize wellness.