Metabolism is how the body breaks down nutrients to function at its best. When nutrients are broken down, it helps the body produce and release energy, supporting its vital functions. Our metabolism is affected by the type and quality of foods we take.
When one’s metabolism, or ‘metabolic rate,’ is high, the body breaks down and uses nutrients quickly. If one’s metabolic rate is low, it takes longer for the body to break down the nutrients and release energy. A low metabolic rate is typically associated with weight gain. As such, people who wish to lose weight but struggle to shed those pounds can benefit from learning about how metabolism works and what nutrients promote good metabolic health, including any best vitamins for metabolism.
According to a study published in Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders, only around 12 percent of Americans live with optimal metabolic health. That means that almost 9 out of 10 Americans’ metabolic health is sub-optimal. The study reports that women, people under the age of 40, nonsmokers, and those physically active have the highest metabolic health. So, which nutrients can help us achieve a healthy metabolism, and how do we get enough of these nutrients?
Best Metabolism-Boosting Vitamins
We can help ourselves achieve a healthy metabolism by adhering to high quality, nutrient-rich diet, including all of the essential vitamins and minerals the body needs to function effectively. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to follow such a diet. Sometimes, we do not have time to buy, prepare, and cook the right foods because we have other responsibilities. We are forced to eat out of convenience rather than mindfulness and variation.
Still, it is entirely possible to eat a varied and balanced diet and boost your metabolism with a bit of knowledge about which foods to choose. Moreover, if you still cannot get all the nutrients you need for a healthy metabolism, plenty of vitamin and mineral supplements are on the market today that can help you get there.
The following is a list of the best vitamins for metabolism to boost, burn fat, and help the body create energy. We have also included two essential minerals that contribute to good metabolic health. Read on to learn more about how each nutrient promotes healthy metabolism and where you can find them in your diet.
- B vitamins
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin C
1. B Vitamins
The B vitamins (vitamin b complex) are a group of eight essential vitamins. They are:
- B1 (thiamine)
- B2 (riboflavin)
- B3 (niacin)
- B5 (pantothenic acid)
- B6 (pyridoxine)
- B7 (biotin)
- B9 (folate or folic acid)
- B12 (cobalamin)
The B vitamins play a crucial role in the metabolic process. They help the body by converting food into energy, which powers vital bodily functions. The B complex is the go-to-vitamins for breaking down proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. As such, with adequate B vitamins intake, you can keep your metabolism high. If you are trying to lose weight, getting enough B vitamins in your diet and keeping your metabolism high is the key.
Aside from the weight loss and metabolism-boosting benefits, the B complex also plays a vital role in nervous systems and brain health. They work on amino acids to aid in producing and releasing serotonin and norepinephrine—two neurotransmitters that help regulate mood. As such, they can lift your mood and prevent your risk of depression and poor metabolic health.
Sources of B Vitamins
You can find plenty of b vitamins in the following food sources:
- Lean meat (beef, liver)
- Whole grains, nuts, and seeds
- Dairy products
- Spinach and other dark leafy greens
- Seafood (salmon, trout)
- Legumes (chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils)
B Vitamin Supplementation
If you are vegan, you might struggle to get all the necessary nutrients for good metabolic health. Sure, there are plenty of B vitamins in nuts, seeds, and dark leafy greens, but the B complex is harder to find in plant-based foods. For example, B12 is only available from animal sources such as beef and liver. As such, those with special diets should try to add B12 to their diet with supplementation or fortified foods.
B12 is an essential B complex to improve your metabolism and break down proteins and fats, and B12 needs folate (B9) and pyridoxine (B6) to work effectively. Supplementation is a quick and easy way to get all of those important B complex vitamins without spending too much time preparing and cooking the right foods.
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, famously promotes healthy bones and muscles. It helps the body absorb calcium effectively, and that calcium goes on to support bone, joint, and muscle strength and maintenance. However, that is not all that vitamin D does in the body. Researchers have found a strong link between vitamin D and mood. More specifically, they found that people who suffer from depression have lower vitamin D levels in their system.
Vitamin D also plays a more significant role than previously believed in weight loss and metabolism. One way vitamin D promotes a healthy metabolism is that such metabolic health is achieved through a mindful and healthy lifestyle—when the body is low in vitamin D, one’s risk of depression and other mood issues increases.
Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that ‘vitamin D supplementation contributes to a beneficial reduction of VAT (visceral adipose tissue).’ This study supports the strong relationship between vitamin D and weight loss.
Sources of Vitamin D
Food sources rich in vitamin d include:
- Red meat, liver
- Eggs, egg yolks
- Oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines)
- Fortified foods (spreads and cereals)
Vitamin D Supplementation
Vitamin D is unique as we can also get it from sunlight. However, not everyone has the opportunity to get all the vitamin d they need from the sun alone. Even if you struggle to get enough vitamin D in your diet through foods and sunlight, you can always boost your intake with vitamin D supplements. Supplements are not intended to replace foods but are an addition to a varied and balanced diet.
Iron is a mineral that plays a crucial role in forming healthy red blood cells. It is heavily involved in the metabolic process, so regularly getting enough iron in your diet is important. By keeping blood cells healthy, iron helps the body carry oxygen around the body. As such, it promotes effective cell functions, which supports a healthy metabolism. If iron in the blood is low, the body has a harder time carrying out normal functions, like converting food into energy and burning excess stomach fat.
Sources of Iron
Food sources rich in iron include:
- Liver, beef
- Fortified food (cereals)
- Beans, chickpeas, lentils
- Dried fruit
It is not too difficult to get enough iron in your diet, even for vegans. Still, iron from meat, known as heme-iron, is more easily absorbed into the bloodstream than non-heme-iron found in plant sources. If you worry that you are not getting enough iron in your diet and you are struggling to convert food into energy and burn fat, there are plenty of iron supplements available on the market. Always consult a doctor or medical professional before taking iron supplements, especially if pregnant or breastfeeding.
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is not usually the first vitamin that comes to mind when thinking of metabolism. Still, research has found a strong link between adequate vitamin C intake and a lower body mass index (BMI) compared to those with low vitamin C. Adequate vitamin C intake is also associated with lower levels of oxidative stress.
Sources of Vitamin C
Food sources rich in vitamin C include:
- Brussel sprouts
Vitamin C also plays a significant role in skin health and immune system function, so whether or not you want to speed up your metabolism and lose weight, it is always wise to make sure you get enough vitamin C in your diet.
Vitamin C Supplements
It is possible to add vitamin C supplements to your diet, but since this essential nutrient is easily available in simple foods, people generally do not use vitamin C supplements. Still, it can be a helpful energy booster when you are tired and protect your immune system when it is weak. The best way to boost your vitamin C and reap its benefits, as with all vitamins, is through your diet, but if you choose a supplement, do not overdo it. Too much vitamin C can lead to digestive issues and nausea.
Magnesium is a mineral essential for a healthy metabolism. It is a crucial nutrient in producing and releasing energy throughout the body to initiate chemical reactions. It also plays several other important roles in the body, such as regulating blood sugar and insulin levels. It also helps the body transport and metabolizes calcium, promoting healthy bones and muscles.
Sources of Magnesium
Food sources rich in magnesium include:
- Spinach (and other dark leafy greens)
- Brown rice
- Almonds, cashews
- Dark chocolate
- Pumpkin seeds
Magnesium is a relatively inexpensive and simple way to boost your magnesium intake and boost your body’s overall health. Most people should be able to get enough magnesium through diet alone. Still, some people may struggle to absorb magnesium food, such as those with gastrointestinal issues such as IBS or people with celiac disease. In such cases, magnesium supplementation is a safe and effective option. Make sure to consult a medical professional before taking any supplement.
Bonus Tips to Boost Your Metabolism
Aside from vitamins and minerals, there are a few additional ways you can boost your metabolism and achieve optimal metabolic health, including:
Anyone who has tried to lose weight will already know that green tea is a highly recommended way to help you along your journey. Sure, sipping on some green tea will not make you lose weight overnight, but the caffeine and catechins contained within it have been proven to help the body burn fat. Green tea also contains plenty of antioxidants, one of which is called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG. EGCG promotes a higher metabolic rate by inhibiting the breakdown of norepinephrine in the body. The extra norepinephrine then contributes to more rapid fat breakdown.
Sleep plays an important role in the regulation of our metabolism. Inadequate sleep, more or less than 7 to 9 hours per night, has consistently been linked to mental health issues, cardiovascular problems, and a metabolic rate either too high or too low.
A healthy metabolism is a key to a healthy life. When we look after our metabolic health through a varied and balanced diet, supplementation when necessary, enough sleep, and an active and fulfilling lifestyle, we get to enjoy life the way it is meant to be enjoyed in good health.