Author: Cecilia Snyder, MS, RD
This article was created as a part of a partnership with Lucky Vitamin.
When it comes to losing weight and reaching your peak health levels, there are tons of different factors to consider. On any weight loss journey, you might ask yourself questions like “What kind of diet should I follow?”, “Am I exercising enough?”, or “How quickly should I lose weight?” The truth is, there’s not always one right answer to those questions. We’re all unique individuals with our own circumstances. Our bodies might react differently to certain diets, there is no “one size fits all” exercise routine, and we definitely don’t lose weight at exactly the same rate.
Because of this, it’s tricky at times to know if you’re on the right track with your weight loss goals. But one thing that does remain consistent across the board is that each of our bodies requires certain nutrients to continue working properly. Depending on where your weight loss journey takes you with diet and exercise, it’s possible that you could be at risk of becoming deficient in one of these essential nutrients.
So here at Noom, we’ve teamed up with LuckyVitamin and their Lead Wellness Advisor, Dr. Jeremy Wolf, to bring you the scoop on nutrients and weight loss. LuckyVitamin, an online supplier of natural products like supplements, is committed to helping people on their journey towards happy wellness. Together, we’ve identified some of the key nutrients that are most often lacking in a weight loss journey, and we’re excited to share some tips on how to make sure your diet isn’t falling short… and even more importantly, what to do if it is!
The importance of nutrients in a weight loss journey
What exactly is it about nutrients that make them so important in the first place? Well, nutrients are responsible for everything in our bodies from providing energy to fighting infections and building cells. We literally couldn’t live without them! Plus, some research now suggests that people with certain micronutrient deficiencies are more likely to be overweight and suffer from metabolic syndrome. Since metabolic syndrome and being overweight both put people at a higher risk for heart disease and other chronic conditions, making sure all of your nutrient levels are within normal limits is a big step in the right direction towards overall health and wellness.
Considering how important nutrients are, it might come as a surprise to hear that many popular diet plans can actually put people at a higher risk for certain nutrient deficiencies. Seems a little bit counterintuitive, right? But the more you begin to think about it, it kind of makes sense. Hear me out… when you really begin to take a close look at diets, you notice that they tend to focus on a few key nutrients only. Sometimes that means cutting out certain nutrients (example: low-carb or low-fat.) Other diets tend to emphasize having only certain nutrients in particular, like keto, paleo, and Whole30. And naturally, when you focus only on a select few nutrients or foods, you’re bound to miss out on the nourishment your body needs from all the rest!
Dr. Wolf agrees on this one too. When we asked him about which nutrient deficiencies are most closely related to weight loss, he said that “there is no one diet that fits all for weight loss since each diet may come with its own set of nutrient deficiencies.” But he also mentioned that vitamin D is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies that he sees, whether an individual is currently attempting weight loss or not. And remember how I mentioned earlier that some nutrient deficiencies are now being directly linked to weight gain? Well, vitamin D is one of those!
That’s one reason why Noom takes a different approach to weight loss. Rather than telling you exactly what to eat each day, Noom recommends taking a balanced approach and including a variety of nutrient-dense foods. We’ll leave all the big decisions, like exactly what foods to eat and when to eat them, completely up to you. But by focusing on foods that are nutrient dense, you can rest assured that you’ll receive the most amount of nutrients possible for the least amount of calories. And don’t worry, we won’t leave you hanging without any tools to help you make those big decisions. You’ll have full access to Noom’s psychology and nutrition-based curriculum, a comprehensive food database, and meal logging system, plus your own personal health coaches to help you guide you along the way.
Nutrients to keep an eye on
Let’s look at some of the nutrient deficiencies most commonly linked with dieting and weight loss. We’ll also share some foods to fill up on to help avoid deficiencies, and some of Dr. Wolf’s favorite LuckyVitamin supplements to fill in the gaps and provide a safety net.
Vitamin B12 is necessary for red blood cell production, DNA synthesis, and proper neurological functioning. But because vitamin B12 is mostly found in animal products, certain groups of people like vegetarians and vegans are at a greater risk of deficiency. Some of the most notable signs and symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency to be aware of include feeling lethargic, a loss of appetite, constipation, and weight loss. Vitamin B12 supplements come in a variety of forms. You might see them labeled as cyanocobalamin or methylcobalamin.
Recommended Foods: Clams, beef (especially beef liver), trout, salmon, tuna, and haddock
Recommended Supplement: Vitamin Code RAW B12 by Garden of Life
Responsible for things like protein metabolism and wound healing, vitamin C is considered an essential nutrient, meaning that it’s critical to get enough of it by diet or supplementation because our bodies aren’t capable of producing vitamin C on their own. Some common symptoms of vitamin C deficiency include bleeding or inflamed gums, joint pain, and delayed wound healing. Most vitamin C supplements come in the form of ascorbic acid.
Recommended Foods: Bell peppers, broccoli, kiwi, strawberries, orange, and grapefruit juice
Recommended Supplement: Liposomal Vitamin C by Dr. Mercola
Vitamin D is mostly known for its role in bone growth and rebuilding, but it’s also needed to make sure our immune systems continue to work properly and to reduce inflammation. Unfortunately, vitamin D is not naturally present in many foods. Thankfully though, foods like milk and juice often have vitamin D added to them, and our bodies can actually produce some vitamin D on their own as long as our skin is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D supplements are available in two different forms, D-2 (ergocalciferol) and D-3 (cholecalciferol).
Recommended Foods: Swordfish, salmon, tuna, fortified milk, yogurt, and orange juice
Recommended Supplement: Vitamin D-3 by LuckyVitamin
Unlike vitamin D, iron is actually present in lots of different foods. Which is good news since it plays important roles in growth and development and in providing our bodies with oxygen. But despite the fact that iron is so present in our daily diets, some groups of people like women, children, frequent blood donors, and cancer patients are still at risk of becoming deficient. Iron supplements can be tricky; they come in a number of different forms and high doses are often accompanied by some serious side effects. If you do decide to supplement, make sure to consult with your doctor to determine which supplement is best for you.
Recommended Foods: Fortified breakfast cereal, oysters, white beans, tofu, and dark chocolate
Recommended Supplement: Iron Food Complex by New Chapter
Rather than acting as one single nutrient, electrolytes are actually a group of about seven different mineral compounds that hold an electrical charge and participate in various bodily processes, like muscle functioning and pH balance. They include calcium, chloride, sodium, magnesium, potassium, phosphate and bicarbonate. When it comes to weight loss, electrolytes are hit especially hard due to restrictive diets and since they are lost in sweat during exercise.
Recommended Foods: Table salt, leafy green vegetables, bananas, avocados, nuts, and seeds
Recommended Supplements: Hydration Multiplier Electrolyte Drink Mix by Liquid I.V.
Considering a supplement? Include a naturopathic physician on your journey
We covered five of the most common nutrient deficiencies in a weight loss journey. And it’s already easy to see there are a lot of different factors to consider with deficiencies and supplements. So if you do decide to supplement your diet, make sure you’re taking the following steps before deciding on any products in particular:
- Consult a specialist: Let’s take it from the expert on this one. Dr. Wolf summed it up perfectly saying, “The best way to determine if you are in need of certain supplements is always to speak with your healthcare provider or a trained health care provider. Trained health care providers should be able to order lab testing (standard or functional medicine lab tests) that can help assess nutritional deficiencies.” And if you want, you can actually ask Dr. Wolf himself some of your questions simply by visiting the LuckyVitamin website.
- Do your research: Unfortunately, dietary supplements aren’t very closely regulated by the FDA. So it’s important to feel confident in the product you’re purchasing and what it claims to do. For Dr. Wolf, the most important factors to consider when buying supplements are looking for a brand that goes the extra mile to make sure products are free of extra additives, contaminants, and allergens, and to choose the most bioavailable (absorptive) form of each nutrient to get the most bang for your buck.
- Be aware of toxicities: As important as it is to make sure your nutrient levels aren’t too low, it’s just as necessary to make sure your nutrient levels aren’t too high. It might seem like more is always better, but taking too many supplements can actually be harmful. Nutrient toxicities can result in side effects like brittle hair, nausea, vomiting, cancer risk, and even death. It’s critical to be aware of the side effects for any supplement you take.
- Choose your supplement provider wisely: Not all supplement providers are created equally. We’ve chosen to team up with LuckyVitamin because we believe they truly have their consumer’s best interest in mind. By shopping with LuckyVitamin, you can feel confident knowing that they fully assess each item on their website and that the entire LuckyVitamin team will always have your health and well-being in mind.
Take a well-rounded approach to weight loss with Noom and LuckyVitamin
At the end of the day, remember that even though our bodies have similar nutrient needs, there’s not always one best way to make sure those needs are being met. For some, diet is enough to get all of the nutrients they need and more. For others, it may be more difficult to keep nutrient levels within normal limits, and therefore supplements can be helpful. Working with a healthcare provider is the best way to make sure your needs are being me.
Just like Dr. Wolf said, “Supplements should be recommended on an individual basis and considering individual needs.” He went on to suggest getting the majority of your nutrients from a well-balanced diet including a variety of fruits and vegetables. And recommending a quality multivitamin as a basic supplement to support overall health and wellbeing.
So what’s your next move from here? We hope this post has already answered that question for you. Head on over to LuckyVitamin if you want to consult a specialist or continue your research. And if you want to learn more about how to stop dieting, eat a nutrient dense diet, and lose weight for good, head over to Noom and begin your journey today.
References: National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. Dietary supplement fact sheets. Retrieved from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/list-all/