Close up image of a woman's hand holding a variety of vitamin supplements
29 Nov 2020

Do vitamins cause weight gain?

1 mins to read
Can taking a multivitamin expand your waistline? The short answer is no, but if you are having troubles with weight gain and are taking dietary supplements, then read on.

Do vitamins speed up metabolism?

Vitamins do not speed up metabolism unless your dietary intake of essential nutrients is inadequate. In this case, taking multivitamins may meet your body's nutrients needs, allowing your metabolism to function more efficiently. For example, low levels of vitamin B6 are associated with a decrease in brain serotonin levels which could result in an increased appetite, leading to more food consumption and potential weight gain.

Some people may blame multivitamins for weight gain or a lack of weight loss because they ignore the bigger picture of their overall lifestyle. This is especially true of people who take multivitamins because their diet is otherwise lacking.

If you are taking multivitamins because you are not eating healthily, you are inactive, or because you are on a restrictive diet, it could be these associated behaviours that are responsible for weight gain, not the multivitamin. You can find the right multivitamin for you but remember vitamins should supplement a healthy lifestyle, not replace it.

Multivitamins and weight gain

Research published in the British Journal of Nutrition suggested that multivitamins may actually assist weight loss in men.

Men who regularly consumed vitamin and dietary supplements had a lower body weight, fat mass, and body mass index compared to men who did not take multivitamins.

The same study found there was a trend towards similar results in the opposite sex, and women taking a multivitamin also experienced reduced hunger levels. A multivitamin and mineral supplement was found to significantly decrease appetite ratings in women after weight loss, compared with a placebo group which had also lost weight.

According to the researchers, vitamins and minerals are involved in the synthesis of hunger hormones such as insulin, leptin and cortisol that control food intake.

Weight Loss Consideration Tips For Men & Women

The implications from this study are relevant for both men and women who are managing their weight. Consider the following points:
  • Multivitamins for Weight Loss

    If your goal is to lose body fat, or maintain a healthy level of body fat, taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement regularly may help you get results
  • Healthy Diet

    Eat a highly nutritious diet rich in vegetables, legumes, whole grains, lean protein sources and fruits. Don’t rely on a multivitamin to supply all the nutrients your body needs, or use it as an excuse to eat unhealthy foods
  • Regular Physical Activity

    Multivitamins are not a substitute for regular physical activity. Exercise is a vital component of a weight control program
  • Sustained Weight Loss

    If you have already lost weight, a multivitamin and mineral supplement may help reduce your appetite, which may help prevent weight re-gain

Stress less, weigh less

So if it isn’t that multivitamin that is causing weight gain, what is it?

Much research points towards stress as a major culprit. Each time we stress, our cortisol levels rise and the stress hormone increases the level of glucose in the bloodstream to help us deal with the stressor. 

Unfortunately, many people suffer from chronic stress, meaning their cortisol levels are raised for long periods of time. 

A recent study from 2017 published in Obesity Society Research Journal suggests that high stress lifestyles lead to weight gain. 

By looking at cortisol levels in hair, which is an indicator of long term cortisol levels, the study found that there is a positive correlation between chronic stress and excess weight. 

People tend to reach for high energy or “comfort” foods when stressed, which is why it is important to practice mindfulness and learn how to destress when necessary. 

Try meditation, yoga and exercise and be sure to have a diet filled with nutrient rich foods.

For more information on weight management see our posts: Your guide to healthy weight management and Try this one thing for a healthy weight.

First published 29th March 2011

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