One of the mainstays of metabolism is from eating right. Eating right has been linked to helping your metabolism work effectively. However, it does not merely involve consuming healthy foods in the right amounts. Instead, it also means consuming foods with vitamins to help metabolism. Such vitamins for metabolism are associated with various metabolic advantages, meaning they could end your metabolism problems.
Most people jump on the supplements wagon immediately without checking into the information and therefore have a lack of information on the foods containing these essential vitamins. These vitamins may be of little or no benefit, depending on how your body reacts to them. So, the best option remains to get these essential components from their food sources.
However, without knowledge of these ingredients, determining their food sources becomes tricky and challenging. Read on as we explore which foods and vitamins to boost metabolism.
Vitamins to Boost Metabolism
Two primary vitamins help with improving or returning your metabolism vitality. They include Vitamin D and the Vitamin B complex (B vitamins). Let us evaluate each in-depth.
Vitamins To Boost Metabolism: The B Vitamins
The B vitamins are vital as they control the functioning of your body cells. They also help with your metabolism, which is the process of converting food into energy. Therefore, if you have a slow metabolism, eat more of the foods containing these vitamins.
Lastly, these B vitamins are used when creating new body cells and maintaining your blood tissues, skin, and brain cells. There are eight categories of the B vitamins, also known as the vitamin B complex. Each is responsible for a different function in your body. They include (1):
- Thiamin – Vitamin B 1
- Riboflavin – Vitamin B 2
- Niacin – Vitamin B 3
- Pantothenic acid – Vitamin B 5
- Pyridoxine – Vitamin B 6
- Biotin – Vitamin B 7
- Folate – Vitamin B 9
- Cobalamin – Vitamin B 12
Daily Requirements of the Vitamin B Complex
The amounts of the B vitamins you are required to take daily vary from person to person. For anyone aged four years and above, the required intake is as follows:
- Thiamin- 1.2 mg
- Biotin- 30 mcg
- Niacin- 16 mg or equivalent
- Vitamin B 6- 1.7 mg
- Riboflavin- 1.3 mg
- Pantothenic acid- 5 mg
- Vitamin B 12- 2.4 mcg
- Folate- 400 mcg or equivalent
The required B vitamin values for pregnant and breastfeeding women are as shown below:
- Riboflavin- 1.6 mg
- Vitamin B 5- 7 mg
- Thiamin- 1.4 mg
- Vitamin 9- 600 mcg or equivalent
- Niacin- 18 mg or equivalent
- Vitamin B 6- 2 mg
- Vitamin B 12- 2.8 mcg
- Biotin- 35 mcg
Importance of the B Vitamins
It’s essential to eat foods containing all the B vitamins, as a deficiency of one affects others’ functioning. Consequently, it interferes with your metabolism (9). Here are other functions of these vitamins:
- Thiamin helps in the synthesis of various hormones.
- Vitamin B 2 helps the body in breaking down steroid hormones, fats, and drugs.
- Niacin contains a coenzyme that helps in the expression of DNA in the body cells.
- Vitamin B 6 helps in improving your immune functioning and brain development. It also helps in the metabolism of proteins and the creation of new red blood cells.
- Folate regulates cell division in your body as well as the metabolism of amino acids. It is also recommended for pregnant women to reduce the risk of several congenital disabilities.
- Vitamin B 12 creates new red blood cells, synthesizes DNA, and helps with neurological and brain functioning. It also helps in the prevention of pernicious anemia.
- Vitamin B 5 is crucial for the health of the nervous system and the brain.
Foods Containing the B Vitamins
You must eat foods containing these vitamins regularly so that you meet your daily B vitamins value. Here are some excellent food choices you can try out:
- Legumes such as soybeans and black beans
- Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and barley
- Lean and organ meats
- Yogurt, milk, and other dairy products
- Beef liver
- Chicken and other poultry
- Tuna and salmon
- Seeds and nuts
- Fruits such as avocados, watermelon, bananas, grapes, and apples
- Squash and vegetables such as spinach
If you are vegan or vegetarian, you can get enough vitamin B 12 from foods such as (6):
- Fortified breakfast cereals
- Nutritional yeast
- Fortified plant-based milk such as soy or almond milk
- Spreads like Marmite
- Low-fat milk
Vitamin B Complex Supplements
If you are not getting enough B vitamins, you could be asked to start taking their supplements. You are only eligible for these supplements if you fit any of the following cases:
If You Are Vegan or Vegetarian
Most foods containing these vitamins come from animal products. Therefore, if you are on a vegan or vegetarian diet, chances are you are not eating these products. So, you might likely be suffering from a deficiency of the B complex vitamins.
In this case, you may need to take supplements. Consult with a professional for more medical assistance on how to proceed with these supplements and your diet plan.
If You Are Expectant
If you are expectant, you will need to consume more foods containing these vitamins. In case this is not possible, then your doctor may recommend taking the vitamin B complex supplements. Experts acknowledge that folate deficiency in pregnant women can result in birth defects involving either the spinal cord or brain (3).
Similarly, vitamin B 12 deficiency can cause pregnancy loss, fetal abnormalities, low birth weight, and high blood pressure in these women.
If You Are Aged 65 and Above
Seniors above 65 years old are highly likely to suffer from vitamin B 12 deficiency. They can take vitamin B 12 supplements under supervision as it reduces the aging effects of the brain. Vitamin B 9 supplements have also been linked to reduced depressive symptoms in these seniors.
If You Have Various Health Conditions
You can also take Vitamin B supplements after the consultation if you have any of the following conditions:
- Kidney disease
- Alcohol dependence
- Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or any other autoimmune condition
- Crohn’s, celiac, or any other malabsorption disease
- Heart disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
If You Have Had Gastric Bypass Surgery
You may also need supplements for these vitamins if you have undergone bariatric or gastric bypass surgery. However, in this case, these supplements should not be taken over a longer duration. Seek medical advice to determine how long you should take these supplements if you have had this surgery.
Vitamins To Boost Metabolism: Vitamin D
Vitamin D is vital in our bodies for healthy bones. It helps prevent rickets, which is a disease associated with weak or soft bones (8). Initially, most people thought this vitamin was only significant for this role.
However, experts acknowledge that this vitamin has a myriad of health benefits. The vitamin is also crucial as it helps your body utilize calcium from your diet. Calcium is among the few minerals that help in boosting your metabolism.
It also helps in regulating your blood sugar levels and helping you attain healthy bones. Higher intakes of both calcium and vitamin D can help in promoting weight loss. The two help your body burn more calories, which can, as a result, make you shed extra weight.
You can acquire more calcium in your body by taking foods such as:
- Milk and yogurt
- Dark leafy vegetables such as kale
- Fortified orange juice
- Fortified cereals
Benefits of Vitamin D
Aside from preventing rickets, this vitamin also helps you in the following ways:
Reducing Your Belly Fat
Experts have discovered that vitamin D deficiency is linked to total and abdominal fat in women. However, in the men’s case, low vitamin D levels were linked to fat in the abdomen and liver (2).
These researchers acknowledge that there is a strong association between low vitamin D levels and increased abdominal fat. Therefore, to help reduce this belly fat, women are advised to consider getting enough vitamin D.
Reducing Your Risk of Several Conditions
It would help if you also had enough vitamin D in your body to minimize your risk of getting several conditions. These entail cardiovascular diseases, multiple sclerosis, glucose intolerance, diabetes, and hypertension.
Helping You Manage Your Diabetes
Vitamin D also increases insulin response in your body. Consequently, it helps you manage your diabetes.
Foods Containing Vitamin D
You can increase your vitamin D intake by eating foods rich in this vitamin. They include:
- Fatty fish, for example, sardines, mackerel, and salmon
- Egg yolks
- Fortified plant-based milk such as soy and almond milk
- Fortified dairy
- Beef liver
- Several types of mushrooms
- Cod liver oil
- Fortified breakfast cereals
Getting Vitamin D Naturally from the Sun
Sun basking is one of the natural ways you can increase your vitamin D levels. The sun is the best source of this vitamin, and all you need is a few minutes of your day. However, several factors may affect how much of this vitamin your body makes from the sun (4). They include factors such as:
The Time of the Day You Sun Bask
Your skin tends to produce more of this vitamin at midday when the sun is scorching hot. However, rarely do most people sun bask at this time for fear of sunburns. Apply your sunscreen to avoid getting these sunburns.
Similarly, drink your water to prevent dehydration. These two factors will enable you to sun bask for long until your body produces enough vitamin D.
Your Skin Color
Pale colored skin makes vitamin D faster than dark-colored skin.
The Amount of Skin Exposed to the Sun
Your body will make more vitamin D if you expose your entire body. So, do not just lie on your back or expose your feet and arms. Let your whole body be exposed to the sun, and for the recommended duration.
How Much Sunscreen You Apply
Wearing too much sunscreen hinders your body’s ability to make enough vitamin D. The key is to regulate how much sunscreen you apply to avoid sunburn and skin-related cancer.
The Duration You SunBathe
The duration you sunbathe is highly influenced by your skin color. If you have light skin, then you are advised to sun bask for at least 15 minutes. On the other hand, if you are dark-skinned, you are urged to sunbathe for a couple of hours.
You must be cautious to avoid exposure to the sun for long hours. It can increase your risk of developing skin cancer.
Vitamin D Supplements
Vitamin D is not present in many foods. Instead, the sun is the best source of attaining this vitamin. However, since most people do not get enough sunlight, they suffer from vitamin D deficiency. In this case, their physicians may recommend taking supplements.
The recommended daily dosage of Vitamin D varies according to age. Children aged 12 months and below are required to take 400 IU of vitamin D (7). If you range anywhere between 1 and 70 years, you must take a 600 IU daily dosage of vitamin D.
In case you are above 70 years old, then your daily dosage should be 800 IU. If taken in the recommended doses, these supplements are safe. If you take more than 4,000 IU daily and are expectant, breastfeeding, or above nine years, you will experience:
- Reduced appetite
- Weight loss
- Kidney damage
- Heart rhythm problems
Also, speak to your doctor if you are taking other medications. It will help in avoiding unforeseen health complications arising from the interactions of the different drugs.
Minerals that Boost Metabolism
In addition to these vitamins, several minerals also help in improving your metabolism. They include calcium, magnesium, and iron. Magnesium is responsible for the chemical reactions that are involved in producing energy in your body.
Without it, there is neither energy production nor metabolism. Besides metabolism, iron is also vital for hormone creation, and your body cells’ correct functioning. So, remember also to eat foods rich in these minerals.
Although there are supplements for these minerals, you should get these minerals from their food sources. You can acquire magnesium from foods such as (5):
- Legumes such as black beans
- Cultured yogurt
- Peanuts, cashew nuts, almonds, and other nuts
- Bananas and avocados
- Dark chocolate
- Whole grains such as quinoa
- Whole wheat
- Halibut and salmon
To get iron, eat the following foods:
- Dark leafy vegetables
- Soybeans and tofu
- Brown rice
- Fortified cereals
The Bottom Line
If you are thinking about taking vitamins to boost metabolism, first speak to your healthcare provider. They will help validate your vitamin deficiency and advise you on how to address the issue.
The best vitamins to improve metabolism are the B vitamins and vitamin D. The safest way you can acquire them is by eating nutritious and balanced diets containing foods rich in these components.
Supplement your diet with some exercise to double your results.