Your metabolism is the process your body uses to break down food and nutrients and convert them to energy, which supports all of the functions in your body. There are a lot of things that affect your metabolism, but two of the major players are the vitamins and minerals you get from your diet. If you’re not getting adequate amounts of certain vitamins, like B12, it can negatively affect your metabolism, making it harder for you to lose weight (and also decreasing your energy).
How B12 Affects Metabolism
Vitamin B12 is essential for the metabolism of proteins and fats. In fact, metabolizing the macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) and using the stored energy in food are the major roles of all of the B vitamins.
When your metabolism is healthy and running efficiently, your body uses fats and, sometimes, proteins, for energy. This prevents your body from storing these nutrients as fat, which translates to weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight.
But if your metabolism is sluggish or not running efficiently for any reason (like a vitamin B12 deficiency), instead of using these macronutrients for energy, your body will store them as fat.
If you’re feeling “off” or dealing with chronic symptoms, like fatigue, anxiety, difficulty keeping your balance, memory loss, shortness of breath, and/or numbness or tingling in your hands and feed, it’s possible that you have a B12 deficiency, which makes it harder to lose weight.
If you do, you’re in the company of many others. Research shows that one in four Americans currently have a diagnosable vitamin B12 deficiency. What’s more, nearly half of Americans are living with vitamin B12 blood levels that are considered lower than optimal. And many people don’t even know it!
Vegans and vegetarians are at the highest risk of deficiency. Vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in animal products (although synthetic forms are added to many fortified cereals). Other risk factors include digestive conditions, like Crohn’s disease or celiac disease, previous weight loss surgery, and increasing age. Some medications, like anti-acids, also decrease your ability to absorb vitamin B12.
If you’re not getting enough B12 from your diet, or you’re having difficulty absorbing the vitamin, your best bet is a vitamin B12 injection. Injections bypass the digestive system and go right into your blood and then directly into your body’s cells.
If you’re trying to lose weight, B12 injections can help boost your energy levels and increase your metabolism. This process can jumpstart your weight loss or help you overcome a weight loss plateau.