Supplementing with multi-vitamins, B vitamins, and chromium can decrease weight gain in middle-aged men and women, according to a recent study.*
Weight gain is a particular problem in the middle aged, as more than 70% of US adults aged 55-74 are overweight or obese.
Researchers evaluated the long-term use of 14 different nutritional supplements marketed as weight-control aids: multivitamins, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, chromium, fiber, coenzyme Q10, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), garlic, ginkgo, ginseng, melatonin, omega-3 fatty acids, soy, and St. John’s wort. The study subjects were 15,655 men and women, aged 53-57. Supplement use, diet, exercise, and other health behaviors were determined by questionnaire. Use of supplements over 10 years was recorded as no use, low use, or high use. The study groups were divided by sex and body mass index (determined as normal, overweight, or obese) at age 45. The researchers calculated weight change between age 45 and the subject’s current age.
High use of four supplements—multivitamins, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and chromium—produced significantly lower weight gain compared to no use among men and women who were overweight or obese. For example, obese men who did not use chromium gained nearly 12 pounds on average over 10 years; obese men who used less than 150 mcg of chromium per day gained an average of 6 pounds; and obese men who used more than 150 mcg of chromium actually lost 3 pounds on average. Similar results for chromium use were reported in obese women.
To explain these results, the researchers noted that B vitamins improve energy usage, whereas chromium helps regulate blood sugar levels. Multivitamins may be beneficial because they contain B vitamins, chromium, and other healthful minerals such as calcium.
The authors concluded, “Given the rapidly expanding supplement market in this country, as well as the rapidly expanding waistlines of the population, future studies of weight-management tools based on physiologic and nutritional needs may be in order.” Longitudinal and randomized trials are needed to prove a cause-and-effect relationship between supplementation and weight change.
—Laura J. Ninger, ELS