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Q&A: Do B12 injections help with fat loss?

Q: I have heard that vitamin B6/B12 injections may help with weight loss, however they are normally taken in the context of a very low calorie diet (VLCD) so I’m not sure if B-vitamin injections would help on their own, or combined with a regular weight loss diet. Are B-vitamin injections helpful for weight loss?

A: While we do believe in optimizing nutrient levels for good health, we are not aware of any quality, peer-reviewed studies published in a good journal that prove B-complex injections accelerate weight loss.

Be careful what you’re injecting

Sometimes the B12 “lipotropic” shots contain a bundle of additional supposed metabolism accelerants like phentermine. B-vitamins are water-soluble, so they are generally safe in larger doses, but phentermine is not something that Dr Roberts considers safe.

B12 deficiency and weight gain

However, there is some evidence that being deficient in B12 can cause weight gain. But the reverse — that being oversupplied with B vitamins can cause weight loss — does not have good evidence. Too much of a good thing does not always do what we hope it will. Your body simply flushes out extra B vitamins.

Too much of a good thing does not always do what we hope it will. Click To Tweet

There are cases where vitamin B shots can be helpful. For example, some people lose the ability to absorb B12 as they get older, so the shots are important to maintain vitamin adequacy. B vitamins are depleted under stress, and may also depleted if taking metformin and certain other medications. B-complex supplements can help combat fatigue in people who eat an unhealthy diet, and people on a very-low calorie diet (VLCD) can get tired.

It’s not typical to test for B levels, because they are present in so many foods that it is hard to become deficient. Being water-soluble, the B vitamins need to be constantly replenished through diet or supplementation.

B-complex supplements can help combat fatigue in people who eat an unhealthy diet Click To Tweet

It’s OK to take vitamins

People on a VLCD can’t get all their vitamins and minerals from food alone, so they should be supplementing. So it’s not wrong to take vitamin shots if on a medically-supervised VLCD (semi-fasting) program, to prevent malnourishment. But we believe slow and steady, as iDiet is designed, is the best approach for most people, for overall health and sustainability. Short-term interventions hardly ever “stick” because short-term programs don’t form new habits. So without incorporating new principles into a new lifestyle, people simply gain the weight back, and yo-yo dieting is bad for the body and overall health — as well as being demoralizing. The best programs — like iDiet — do not rely on gimmicks to “trick” the body but rather help you change your instinctive neurobiology — along with proper nutrition, sane calorie control, and a nutrient formulation that keeps you feeling full, satisfied, and energetic.

Short-term interventions hardly ever “stick” because short-term programs don't form new habits. Click To Tweet

Keto is another dietary type where vitamin shots may be advisable, because grains are an important source of B vitamins that are largely excluded on keto diets.

How to take vitamins

iDiet does believe in taking vitamins during active weight loss, as an insurance policy to make sure you get everything you need when you are eating less food. We recommend taking a quality multivitamin, plus fish oil or omega-3s from whatever sources you personally prefer, and calcium or a mixed mineral supplement that includes calcium. But take your calcium away from the other vitamins, as Calcium can hurt absorption of some other vitamins. And of course, check with your doctor or care team on any other supplements they recommend. If you are in doubt, a blood-test panel could also be a good idea, to see if you have any deficiencies you are unaware of.

But what about B vitamins again?

Multivitamins usually have enough of the B vitamins for the typical person, but it won’t be harmful to take an extra B-complex if you want to try it.

It’s profitable — and unethical — to sell people “easy button” approaches to weight loss. But they are not sustainable or in tune with nature’s design — or with good science.

If you have a question for iDiet, let us know, and you might see your Q in a future Q&A blog post!

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