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 Weight Control 
Infocenter

Holistic-online.com

Multivitamins and Mineral Therapy for Obesity

Some doctors believe that multivitamin/mineral supplements, combined with a healthy food and exercise plan, can help. They find that the struggles of overweight people are often brought on by a combination of poor general nutrition and dieting that leaves them feeling fatigued and craving food.

When people don't feel good mentally and physically, they often eat sweets to try to feel better, only to find themselves feeling worse. The first line of defense is getting proper exercise and nutrition.

With the diets such as high protein diet, people may not begetting enough of the important nutrients by skimping on important dietary elements such as fruits, vegetables and dairy.

According to nutritionists, all the most popular diets (those emphasizing high or low levels of protein, carbohydrates and fat) lead to deficiencies in important vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamins A and C, thiamin, iron and calcium. Low-calorie diets, typically lack folate, vitamin B6, magnesium and zinc. It is strongly suggested that you take a vitamin supplement if you are following any of these diet regimen.

Multivitamin/mineral supplements are important for those who are overweight, dieting or not. Many overweight people are nutritionally deficient.

Antioxidants: Vitamin A, C and E

Some researchers believe that overweight people have lowered immunity. This could be from deficiencies of vitamins and minerals, especially the antioxidants.

According to a study done in Poland, overweight people may not be reaping antioxidant benefits. Researchers at the National Institute of Food and Nutrition in Warsaw studied 102 overweight women and found that the women had significantly lower levels of the antioxidant vitamins C and E, as well as of vitamin A, and a higher prevalence of overall vitamin deficiency than those of normal weight.

These deficiencies are at least partially responsible for depressing immunity in overweight individuals, leaving them more susceptible to cancer and infectious illness, say some researchers.

And because of abnormal hormone activity, overweight people may also have greater need for antioxidants than people who are not overweight. Studies show that the excess fat in people who are very overweight drives estrogen production up and testosterone down, a deadly combination that scientists believe could be a major factor in certain female reproductive cancers.

Fruits and vegetables are great dietary sources for antioxidants.  Vegetables and fruits with bright orange coloring, such as sweet potatoes, carrots and cantaloupe, are rich in beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A). Broccoli, brussels sprouts and citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C. Wheat germ and kale are good sources of vitamin E.

Dosage:
Daily supplements of 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C
400 international units of vitamin E
25,000 international units of vitamin A.

Caution: Vitamin A can be toxic in high doses. Taking 10,000 international units of vitamin A daily in early pregnancy can cause birth defects. So, consult a doctor before embarking on a mega vitamin therapy, especially if you are a woman of childbearing age. Pregnant women should not use this therapy.

B-Vitamins

All the B vitamins, as well as lecithin, are essential for healthy weight loss. B complex vitamins help produce energy and relieve stress and depression. Lecithin enables fats, such as cholesterol, to be liquefied and expelled from the body.

Recommended Dosage

Vitamin B complex, 50 mg three times daily
Lecithin, 3 tbsp. (1,200 mg 3 times daily, before meals.)

Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B-5)

In a clinical trial a group of one hundred subjects taking 2,500 mg vitamin B-5 four times daily, lost two and a half pounds a week over several months with no side effects.

5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)

Scientists believe that many humans are genetically predisposed to obesity. They say that one of they way this happens is by having a low levels of serotonin. A considerable body of scientific evidence demonstrates that brain serotonin levels have a major influence on eating behavior. Serotonin controls the way we feel about being satisfied with the food we eat. It tells us to stop eating after we are full. When we have a shortage of serotonin, our brain do not tell us to stop eating. As a result, we keep eating (like pigs) that ultimately leads obesity.

Serotonin, in the brain is produced from 5- HTP which, in turn, is produced from triptophan by enzymes present in our body. When we are deficient in this enzyme, our body does not produce enough 5-HTP and serotonin.

Animal studies have shown that administering 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) literally turns off hunger and the craving for food.

In a study conducted at The University of Rome, 5- HTP supplementation reduced calorie intake and promoted weight loss in women who, otherwise, made no conscious effort to lose weight. They lost an average of 3 pounds weight during the five-week period of 5-HTP supplementation.

Another study sought to determine whether 5-HTP helped overweight individuals adhere to dietary recommendations. Women were placed on a 1,200-calorie diet for the second half of a week trial. Half of them also were given 5-HTP supplementation and the other half received a placebo (throughout the 12 week period). The women who took the placebo lost 2.28 pounds, while the women who took the 5- HTP lost 10.34 pounds.

5-HTP appeared to promote weight loss by promoting satiety-the feeling of satisfaction-leading to fewer calories being consumed at meals.

In another study involving 5-HTP (300 mg three times per day), for the first six weeks there were no dietary restrictions, and for the second six weeks the women were placed on a 1,200-calorie-per- day diet. The results from this study were even more impressive. The group that received the 5-HTP had lost an average of 4.39 pounds at six weeks and an average of 11.63 pounds at 12 weeks. In comparison, the placebo group had lost an average of only 0.62 pounds at six weeks and 1.87 pounds at twelve weeks. It appeared that the women in the control group had difficulty adhering to the diet. Ninety percent of the 5-HTP group reported having no problem maintaining the diet.

Recommended Dose:

100-300 mg three times a day. If you experience nausea or other side effects, reduce the dosage.

Chromium

Chromium plays a key role in increasing the body's sensitivity to insulin. Without chromium, insulin's action is blocked, blood sugar levels are elevated, and thermogenesis is inhibited. 
Since increasing insulin sensitivity is a critical goal in promoting weight loss, chromium supplementation would be quite beneficial in people trying to lose weight.

According to the latest research, chromium picolinate may help build lean tissue and reduce fat in adults who exercise.

In one study, patients were given chromium bound to picolinic acid (chromium picolinate) in one of the following three doses daily for two and one-half months: 0 mcg (placebo), 200 mcg, or 400 mcg. The patients who took chromium picolinate lost an average of 4.2 pounds of fat. The group that took the placebo lost only 0.4 pounds. Even more impressive was the fact that the chromium groups gained more muscle (1.4 vs. 0.2 pounds) than those taking the placebo. The results were most striking in elderly subjects and in men. The men who took chromium picolinate lost more than seven times as much body fat as those who took the Placebo (7.7 vs. 1 pound). The 400-mcg dose was found to be more effective than the 200 mcg dose (by about twenty-five percent).

In another study of 59 college-age students at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, researchers found that women taking 200 micrograms of chromium picolinate a day gained almost twice as much lean body mass as those who did not take the supplements. This can result in long-term reductions in body fat, since lean body mass burns more calories than fat.

These results are well-documented in animal studies. Although chromium will benefit only those who are deficient, most people in Westernized countries receive only 25 percent of the Daily Value of 120 micrograms. So a lot of people are deficient.

Chromium also improves the effectiveness of insulin. For this reason, chromium may also be helpful in preventing diabetes, which is common in people who are overweight. People with diabetes who take chromium should be under medical supervision, since their insulin dosage may need to be reduced as their blood sugar levels drop.

Take plenty of whole-grain cereals, black pepper, cheeses and brewer's yeast. They are rich sources of chromium.

Recommended Dosage
50 to 400 micrograms of chromium picolinate supplements daily.

Zinc

It's well-documented that zinc, a mineral found in wheat germ, seafood and whole grains, frequently gets left by the wayside when calorie intake dips below 1,200. 
Zinc deficiency depresses the immune system and causes brittle, dry hair and hair loss. 
So, if you are overweight and experience any problems with your hair, nails, gums or skin, experts recommend supplementing 20 milligrams of zinc a day.

Recommended Dosage:
15 and 30 milligrams of zinc daily.
For the best results, take 1 milligram of copper for every 10 milligrams of zinc.

Caution: Daily doses of more than the Daily Value of 15 milligrams of zinc warrant medical supervision.

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 is an essential compound required in the proper transport and breakdown of fat into energy.

Clinical studies have shown that CoQ10 may help promote weight loss. In one study coenzyme Q10 levels were found to be low in fifty-two percent of overweight subjects tested. Treatment with 100 mg of CoQ10 was found to accelerate weight loss resulting from a low-calorie diet.

Recommended Dosage: 100-300 mg of CoQ10 per day.

Magnesium

Magnesium is essential for every major biological function, including your heartbeat. Magnesium supplementation is useful to treat the muscle cramps that people get when they're trying to lose weight. It also seems to curb sweet cravings.

Good dietary sources of magnesium include seafood, green vegetables and low-fat dairy products. 

Recommended Dosage 
250 and 500 milligrams of magnesium daily.

Caution:

Iron

Iron is found to be deficient in people on low-calorie dieting. That is especially true with premenopausal women.

Iron deficiency can cause iron-deficiency anemia, which, in turn, can cause headaches, shortness of breath, weakness, heart palpitations and fatigue.

Good dietary sources for iron include steamed clams, Cream of Wheat cereal, tofu and soybeans.

Recommended Dosage:
15 milligrams a day, particularly for adults who are following a low-calorie diet to lose weight.

Calcium

Calcium is another mineral that's often in short supply in those who are trying to shed extra pounds.

Experts suggest making sure that you're getting the Daily Value of calcium, which is 1,000 milligrams; women who are past menopause should aim for 1,500 milligrams daily.

Medium Chain Triglycerides

Medium chain triglycerides (MCTS), extracted from coconut oil,  are special types of saturated fats that range in length from six to twelve carbon chains. Unlike regular fats, MCTs actually promote weight loss. MCTs have been found to save 50 percent of the calories compared to a similar intake of long chain triglycerides.

In order to gain the benefit from MCTs, a diet must remain low in LCTs. Use MCTs (coconut oil or other products containing MCTs) as an oil for salad dressing, as a bread spread, or simply taken as a supplement. Coconut oil is an important herb used in Ayurvedic Medicine. Ayurvedic physicians often prescribe that coconut oil be massaged on the body.

Recommended Dosage: 1 to 2 tablespoons per day.

[For more information on MCTs, please see coconut oil under Herbs for Obesity.]

Essential fatty acids 

Flaxseed oil, primrose oil, and salmon oil are good sources. Use these with a low-fat diet to provide essential fatty acids, needed by every cell in the body and for appetite control.

Carnitine

Carnitine helps transport fats in the bloodstream into the mitochondria (where the cellular energy or power produced) for burning. It has the ability to break up tat deposits and aids in weight loss. It also helps to reduce cravings for sweets and fats. Though the body naturally produces carnitine, people who are overweight rarely make enough.

In clinical trials, overweight volunteers taking 200 mcg of chromium picolinate with 100 mg of L- carnitine daily, plus vitamins and minerals, have been shown to average a 15- pound weight loss in eight weeks. This combination was observed to increase their metabolism as well.

Dose: Take 500 milligrams two to three times daily, in conjunction with exercise. 

Other Useful Neutraceuticals

Dehydroepiandrosterons (DHEA)
Inhibits an enzyme that is involved in fat production.

DL-phenylalanine (DLPA)
The amino acid phenylalanine stimulates the metabolism and helps suppress the appetite. 
Dosage: Take 500 milligrams of DL-phenylalanine (DLPA) once or twice daily for three weeks.

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)
Suppresses cravings and has antidepressant qualities.

L-Arginine and L-ornithine plus L-lysine
These amino acids decrease body fat.
Dosage:
500 mg each or as directed on label, before bedtime. Take on an empty stomach with water or juice. Do not take with milk. Take with 50 mg vitamin Bs and 100 mg vitamin C for better absorption.
Caution: Do not take these if you have diabetes. Do not take arginine or ornithine without lysine.

L-Glutamin
Lessens carbohydrate cravings.

L-Methionine
Assists in the breakdown of fat.

L-Phenylaianine 
An appetite suppressant that tells the brain you are not hungry.
Take on an empty stomach as directed.
Caution: Do not take this supplement if you are pregnant or nursing, or suffer from panic attacks, diabetes, high blood pressure, or PKU.

L-Tyrosine
Suppresses cravings and has antidepressant qualities. It stimulates the thyroid and strengthens metabolic function.
Dosage: Take 500 milligrams of L-tyrosine each morning or at bedtime for three weeks.
Caution: Do not take tyrosine if you are taking an MAO inhibitor drug. A sudden and dangerous rise in blood pressure may result. Also do not use this supplement if you have a thyroid disorder. 

Pyruvic acid
Pyruvic acid helps the body to bum calories more effectively.
Dosage: Take a total of 5,000 to 6,000 milligrams (5 to 6 grams) daily.

Therapeutic Recommendations

Overweight people have special vitamin and mineral needs, especially if they're trying to lose weight. Here's what experts recommend.

Calcium 1,000 milligrams, 1,500 milligrams for postmenopausal women 
Chromium 50-200 micrograms (chromium picolinate) 
Copper 1.5-3 milligrams (1 milligram for every 10 milligrams of zinc) 
Iron 15 milligrams 
Magnesium 250-500 milligrams 
Vitamin A 25,000 international units 
Vitamin C 1,000 milligrams 
Vitamin E 400 international units 
Zinc 15-30 milligrams 
Plus a multivitamin/mineral supplement containing the Daily Values of all essential vitamins and minerals

Caution:
If you have diabetes consult a physician before going on chromium supplementation. Your insulin dosage may need to be reduced to compensate for the drop in sugar level. 
If you have heart or kidney problems, consult your doctor before taking magnesium supplements.
High dosage of Vitamin should be taken only under medical supervision, especially if you are a woman of childbearing age. Women who are pregnant should not use this therapy.
If you are taking anticoagulants, don't take vitamin E supplements. 
Doses of zinc in excess of 15 milligrams daily should be taken only under medical supervision.

See Also:

Vitamin Therapy for Stress Management

Nutrition Infocenter in Holisticonline.com

Vitamin Knowledgebase in Holisticonline.com

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