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Taking Supplements for Weight Loss

Vitamins

Vitamins are required for the many metabolic processes that release the energy from the food you digest. Right now, as you are losing weight, you want the most energy possible from your food. B vitamins work together synergistically to boost metabolism, maintain healthy skin and muscle tone, enhance immune functions, and promote healthy cells. Several of the B vitamins are critical to the conversion of fats, carbs, and proteins into energy. You need a nutritional boost during this time of physical and emotional changes, so take a multivitamin and mineral supplement that supplies a balanced formulation.

Look for the tagline, “bio-available,” when shopping for supplements. This means the product is formulated to be readily digested and assimilated in your body. Some supplements are hard to digest and have a molecular structure that isn't easily used by your body. You can find high-quality vitamin and mineral supplements at your health-food store and online.

B Vitamins for Stress

When you're under stress, your body quickly uses up its B vitamins. Because B vitamins are water-soluble, what you don't use in a day or so is eliminated from your body. This means you need a daily dose of Bs.

How do you get vitamin Bs? All meats—especially organ meats, such as liver—contain high concentrations of B vitamins. Next best are fruits and vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables. (You're eating those regularly now, right?) Fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products also contain some of the different B vitamins. Still, your stressed-out body might not be receiving enough of these stress-fighting vitamins.

Unfortunately, B vitamins are also the hardest to digest and assimilate. They require a fully functioning digestive system every step of the way. If your stomach doesn't secrete enough intrinsic factor, a chemical substance produced by the stomach, you won't be able to absorb B-12. This condition can be remedied by taking liquid or sublingual B-12 formulations. These liquids or dissolving tablets bypass the stomach and are instead absorbed in the mucous lining of the mouth. If you don't have adequate lactobacillus bacteria in the large intestine, you won't process and assimilate all the B vitamins you need. This can sometimes be remedied by taking a lactobacillus supplement.

B vitamins are included in most multivitamin supplements at your health-food store. Get your B vitamins from as many sources as you can—meat, fruits, veggies, fish, poultry, eggs, or supplements—and get them every day. Take more if you have a high stress load.

Minerals

You need minerals for the maintenance of healthy nerves, tissues, muscle, and bones. You also need them for proper muscle functioning and high metabolism. Chromium, for instance, works with insulin to regulate the body's use of sugars and fatty acid metabolism. Minerals play a role in proper hydration. If your minerals are way out of balance, you could be drinking all the glasses of water available in the world and still not be hydrated.

There are two types of minerals that your body needs:

  1. Macrominerals are needed in large amounts. These include calcium, magnesium, sodium, chloride, potassium, and phosphorus. These are in the foods you eat. You also can get them in most multivitamin and mineral supplements. These minerals are essential for you to have the proper electrolyte balance in your body.

  2. Microminerals are needed in very small amounts in your body. Even though you need only trace amounts—that's why they're often called “trace elements”—they are required for good health and for mental and emotional stability. Micro-minerals include chromium, iron, iodine, copper, cesium, lithium, platinum, selenium, vanadium, zinc, manganese, and boron. Altogether your body needs more than 70 trace elements. You can get them from animal protein and from your five servings of fruits and vegetables. When you are losing weight, be sure to get enough but not too much. To assure that you ingest enough of these micronutrients, consider taking a trace mineral supplement.

Although all of the minerals listed here are essential for your health, two additional minerals should be noted for aiding in weight loss:

Weighty Warnings

A hundred years ago, it was easier to get the minerals you needed from food. But growing soils have become more depleted in the age of agribusiness. Today, we cannot be sure that our grocery-store produce was grown in mineral-rich soil.

  • Calcium. Take a calcium supplement daily that contains about 500 to 1500 mg. Research shows that women who take extra calcium can lose more weight and keep it off more easily. It's best to obtain your calcium from a supplement that contains bio-available calcium. Also, calcium can be ingested by eating foods such as dark green leafy vegetables, sardines, salmon canned with bones, oysters, broccoli, some legumes such as kidney beans and great northern beans, blackstrap molasses, and dairy products. Don't rely on dairy products for adequate calcium—one tablespoon of blackstrap molasses provides more calcium than a full glass of milk.

  • Chromium. Chromium helps your body retain lean muscle mass while you're losing weight, so that you lose more fat than muscle. Chromium also stabilizes blood sugar levels, helping you avoid frantic overeating if your blood sugar level drops throughout the day. Taking 400 to 600 mcg a day can reduce insulin resistance and assist with weight loss. Food sources that are high in chromium include brewers yeast, dairy products, wheat germ, oats, meat, chicken, and fish.



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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Healthy Weight Loss © 2005 by Lucy Beale and Sandy G. Couvillon. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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