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Multivitamins and Weight Loss

Can the use of a multivitamin cause weight loss? A study published this month in the International Journal of Obesity has provided some evidence that it’s possible. Eighty-seven obese Chinese women took part in a 26-week study which compared the use of a multivitamin/mineral supplement, a calcium-only supplement or placebo. At the end of the study, those taking the multivitamin/mineral supplement had:

“significantly lower body weight, body mass index, fat mass, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, significantly higher resting energy expenditure and HDL cholesterol, as well as a borderline significant trend of lower respiratory quotient (which would signify an increase in fat utilization over carbohydrate) and waist circumference. The calcium group also had a significantly higher HDL cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol levels compared with the placebo group(1).”

This is an interesting study in that the only nutritional change for the participants was the use of the multivitamin or calcium supplement. According to the study, the simple act of taking a multivitamin/mineral helped create these changes.

Past studies have looked at population use of multivitamins and compared weight with multivitamin use. Looking at a large population, individuals’ body weights tend to increase with a decreased use of a multivitamin(2). It would make sense that those who eat a more nutritious diet would also use a multivitamin, and also be at a more healthy weight. That is why it is difficult to look at a large population and say “people at healthier weights use a multivitamin, so the use of a multivitamin helps control weight.” This new study provides some evidence that a multivitamin can help control weight outside of a change in diet.

This leads to additional questions, such as “If multivitamin use helps reduce body weight, how does it work?” The challenge is determining if individual vitamins or minerals contribute to the weight loss, or if it’s the synergistic effect of some or all of them that contributes. Today, there is only speculation. It makes sense, though, that the combination of all of the vitamins and minerals would provide the weight loss benefit as opposed to any one of them by themselves. Our body’s chemistry is extremely complicated, and it is possible that a diet deficient in vitamins and minerals can disrupt our metabolism enough to cause weight gain.

As the study’s authors concluded, “…multivitamin and mineral supplementation could reduce body weight and fatness and improve serum lipid profiles, possibly through increased energy expenditure and fat oxidation.” Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit, but don't overlook the importance of a high-quality multivitamin.

Written by Tom Nikkola - Director of Nutrition & Weight Management


Li Y, Wang C, Shu K, Feng RN, Sun CH. Effects of multivitamin and mineral supplementation on adiposity, energy expenditure and lipid profiles in obese Chinese women. Inter Jour Ob. 2010. 34(2)

Kimmons J, Blanck HM, Tohill BC, Zhang J, Kettel L. Multivitamin Use in Relation to Self-Reported Body Mass Index and Weight Loss Attempts. MedGenMed. 2006 8(3)

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

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