Best Vitamins for Weight Loss and Satiety (and How Much You Need of Each).

The supplement industry is currently worth an estimated $125 billion per year.  By 2026, it is forecasted to nearly double and reach a massive $210 billion

While ‘Big Pharma’ often captures the spotlight, vitamins are big business, too!  

It’s hard to escape advertising for the latest magical supplement that will cure all your ills, shed all your pounds, or make you superhuman. 

Supposedly, some vitamins help with weight loss, and all you have to do is take a pill!  The ads follow you everywhere, and the marketing is pretty compelling. 

  • But which—if any—of the vitamins really help?
  • Which are most effective?  
  • How much of each do you need?
  • Is the Recommended Dietary Intake enough, or do you need more?   

Are there any true fat burners or satiety supplements, or are you just making expensive, brightly coloured pee and wasting money?

In this article, we will explore these important questions through the lens of our satiety analysis built upon 125,761 days of food diaries from 45,519 Nutrient Optimiser users over the past five years.  

To provide clarity, this article will:

  • show you which vitamins influence appetite and satiety the most;
  • the foods that contain more of them; and
  • the amount of each vitamin you should try and consume to maximise satiety and health. 

We’ve used the Optimal Nutrient Intakes detailed in this article to guide thousands of people to optimise their food choices and ensure they pack all of the nutrients they need into their daily food budget in our Micros Masterclass

Do Vitamins Help with Losing Weight?

Professors Raubenhaimer and Simpson of the University of Sydney showed that all organisms have a specific appetite for protein and will continue to eat until they satisfy their bodies’ demands.  They have coined this their ‘Protein Leverage Hypothesis’.

Per our extensive satiety analysis, we have discovered a similar ‘micronutrient leverage’ at play.  In other words, we continue seeking energy to satisfy our bodies’ vitamin, mineral, amino acid, and essential fatty acid demands until we get the amounts our bodies require to function. 

Hence, eating foods that contain more essential nutrients per calorie can help us eat fewer calories and lose weight.

Consuming more nutrients (i.e., vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and amino acids) per calorie is the key to eating fewer calories and being able to not give into your ravenous appetite.

Which Vitamins are Best for Weight Loss

The table below shows the satiety response to each essential vitamin in the foods you eat identified in our analysis. 

Vitamin  Satiety Response
Folate (B9)-27%
Niacin (B3)-25%
Vitamin (B5)-25%
Riboflavin (B2)-21%
Vitamin A-20%
Vitamin E-20%
Vitamin D-20%
Thiamin (B1)-15%
Vitamin K1-14%
Pyridoxine (B6)-13%
Vitamin C-11%
Cobalamin (B12)-9%

At the top of the table, we see that people who get more folate per calorie consume 27% fewer calories.  Meanwhile, people eating more vitamin B12 per calorie tend to consume 9% fewer calories.  This is shown towards the bottom of the table.

Adequate vs Optimal Nutrient Intakes

You may have heard of the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI), Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), Adequate Intake (AI), Estimated Average Requirement (EAR), and Upper Limit (UL)

These nutrient targets were established in the 1940s to ensure soldiers obtained a minimum amount of each essential micronutrient in their rations to make it through World War II.  In other words, these nutrient targets were meant to keep soldiers alive and not necessarily to thrive and live a healthy or long life.  Yet bizarrely, they haven’t been updated much in the eight decades since. 

While many people treat these intakes as targets to ensure adequacy, they are the bare minimum to prevent disease in most of the population most of the time. 

Although many still struggle to meet these minimum intakes in our modern food environment, they certainly do not represent optimal targets for satiety or longevity. 

The figure below shows where the EAR, RDA, and UL sit on the inadequacy vs. excess spectrum. 

It’s worth noting that the Upper Limit is the intake that aligns with adverse responses.  An intake of a nutrient that high is usually consumed from supplements as they are generally impossible to obtain from whole foods alone.   

The Optimal Intake for Vitamins

By now, you might be wondering, ‘what is the Optimal Nutrient Intake if you want to strive for optimal and not simply evade death and dying from nutrient inadequacies?’

Rather than narrowly escaping diseases of deficiency, you probably want to know how much of each essential mineral you need to optimise your health, energy, body composition, performance, and longevity.  

Right?  But do these intakes even exist?

Meet our Optimal Nutrient Intakes (ONIs), or the quantities of each nutrient we determined to be more optimal for satiety and health.  To determine the ONI for each vitamin, we used:

  • the 85th percentile intake of our Optimisers, or the intake that only 15% of our Optimisers could exceed strictly using whole foods; and
  • the point at which we see no additional satiety benefit when people consume more of that specific nutrient. 

The table below shows the ONI for each vitamin, along with:

  • the average Optimiser intake of that vitamin, and
  • the DRI or AI for each relative nutrient.
Folate (B9)1,000550400mcg/2000 cal
Niacin (B3)603314mg/2000 cal
Pantothenic Acid (B5)1295.0mg/2000 cal
Riboflavin (B2)6.031.1mcg/2000 cal
Vitamin A10,00017,4482,333IU/2000 cal
Vitamin E251715mg/2000 cal
Vitamin D1,2001,285600IU/2000 cal
Thiamin (B1)3.021.1mg/2000 cal
Vitamin K11,10039590mcg/2000 cal
Pyridoxine (B6)5.031mg/2000 cal
Vitamin C35017775mg/2000 cal
Cobalamin (B12)1282mcg/2000 cal

If you study the table, you’ll see that every ONI is substantially more significant than the average Optimiser intake.  It’s a challenge, but many people can do it without using supplements and with food alone. 

You’ll also notice that the ONIs are substantially greater than the DRIs.  At the upper end, the ONI for vitamin K1 is more than twelve times the DRI, while the ONI for vitamin E is 1.7 times the DRI. 

It’s also important to note that these ONI targets are set per calorie, which sets our approach apart from other methods centred around ‘nutrient density’.  So rather than eating more to get the nutrients you need, you need to eat better to pack more of each mineral into your energy budget (i.e., quantity over quality). 

To learn more about how we determined the ONI for each vitamin, read on. 

Folate (B9)

We created the folate vs calories chart illustrated below by segmenting 125,761 days of food logging data from our Optimisers into various ‘buckets’ based on their folate intake per 2000 calories.  People eating more folate per calorie tend to consume 27% fewer calories than those consuming the least amount of folate

In the 1990s, nutrition officials realised that folate inadequacy contributed to neural tube defects.  Since then, the folate in our food system has sharply increased because the government began fortifying white flour and refined products with folic acid. 

The chart below shows the distribution of folate amongst our Optimisers, with an average folate intake of 550 mcg/2000 calories.  We have used these distribution charts to trim out any nutrient intakes that are well beyond the normal distribution so we could exclude any intakes only achievable through supplementation. 

Based on this analysis, we set our stretch target, or our Optimal Nutrient Intake for folate, at 1000 mcg/2000 calories.  This is more than twice the 400 mcg/day folate DRI for men and equal to the folic acid Upper Limit.   

Popular foods that contain more folate per calorie include:

  • endive
  • lettuce
  • spinach
  • bok choy
  • parsley
  • chives
  • kimchi
  • liver
  • kale

See Folate (Vitamin B9) Rich Foods and Recipes to learn more.

Niacin (Vitamin B3)

The satiety response curve below shows that people consuming more niacin from food tend to eat 25% fewer calories. 

As the chart below shows, the niacin in our food system has increased since the government began fortifying nutrient-poor foods like grains with vitamin B3 after pellagra outbreaks in the 1930s.  In the 1970s, fortification of the food system was ramped up even further in the US to ensure people were getting enough niacin

The average Optimiser intake of niacin is 33 mg/2000 calories from food alone, which is significantly more than the average American’s intake of 17 mg/2000 calories.   

Based on our satiety analysis, we have set an Optimal Nutrient Intake for niacin of 60 mg/2000 calories.  For comparison, the Upper Limit for niacin from supplementation is set at 35 mg/2000.  This is because most people experience an uncomfortable flush at this quantity when taking supplemental niacin.   However, this is not a concern if you get your niacin from food. 

Popular foods that contain more niacin (B3) per calorie include:

  • mushrooms
  • tuna
  • liver
  • kimchi
  • chicken
  • salmon
  • pork
  • mackerel
  • steak 

See Highest Niacin (Vitamin B3) Foods and Recipes to learn more.

Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)

People getting more vitamin B5 from food tend to consume 25% fewer calories than those consuming lower amounts of B5.

The average B5 intake of our Optimisers is 9.1 mg/2000 calories.  We’ve set an ONI for B5 of 12 mg/2000 calories based on our analysis.   

Popular foods that contain more vitamin B5 per calorie include:

  1. mushrooms
  2. beef liver
  3. endive
  4. liver
  5. watercress
  6. cauliflower
  7. coriander (cilantro)
  8. alfalfa
  9. snow peas
  10. cucumber
  11. pickles
  12. celery
  13. asparagus
  14. caviar

For more on B5, see Highest Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) Foods and Recipes.

Riboflavin (B2)

People consuming more vitamin B2 per calorie tend to consume 21% fewer calories. 

Riboflavin is another nutrient that has increased in our food system because of fortification and supplementation. [ab1]  In the 1930s, riboflavin was also added to white flours and other grain-based foods to counter outbreaks of riboflavinosis, the deficiency disease associated with inadequate riboflavin intake. 

The average B2 intake of our Optimisers is 2.5 mg/2000 calories.  Based on our analysis, we have set an ONI of 6.0 mg/2000 calories for vitamin B2

Popular high-riboflavin foods include:

  • liver
  • kimchi
  • watercress
  • mushrooms
  • spinach
  • nori
  • egg white
  • coriander (cilantro)
  • asparagus
  • bok choy

For more, see Highest Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) Foods and Recipes.

Vitamin A

People consuming more vitamin A per calorie tend to eat 20% less energy overall than those who consume less. 

As we can see in the chart below, the availability of vitamin A in our food system has fallen dramatically since the 1977 Dietary Goals for Americans were introduced.  Nowadays, we must consume almost 50% more calories to get the same quantities of vitamin A.   

Our Optimisers’ average vitamin A intake is 17,500 IUs/2000 calories, and the 85th percentile intake is 35,100 IUs/2000 calories. 

Interestingly, the DRI for vitamin A is only 2,333 IUs/day for men, and the Upper Limit from supplementation is set at 10,000 IU/day.  Based on this, we have conservatively set the ONI at 10,000 IUs/2000 calories. 

While it’s unlikely that you will have any issues with a higher vitamin A intake from whole foods, it doesn’t take much liver to reach your vitamin A target.  Hence, people using Nutrient Optimiser in our Micros Masterclass are guided to chase their other priority nutrients once they get enough vitamin A.  

Popular foods that contain more vitamin A per calorie include:

  • carrots
  • spinach
  • bok choy
  • coriander (cilantro)
  • pumpkin
  • nori
  • collards
  • scallions
  • bell peppers
  • arugula (rocket)
  • liver

For more, see Vitamin A Rich Foods and Recipes: A Practical Guide.

Vitamin E

People consuming more foods that contain vitamin E per calorie tend to eat 20% fewer calories. 

But interestingly, the availability of vitamin E in the food system has increased in line with the widespread use of industrial seed oils.  However, this form of vitamin E is not in the form preferable to the body.

The average vitamin intake of our Optimisers is 17 mg/2000 calories.  However, we set our ONI target at 25 mg/2000 calories, which is still substantially less than the 300 mg/day UL.  Hence, you will be far from consuming excess vitamin E.

Popular foods containing more vitamin E include:

  • broccoli sprouts
  • coriander (cilantro)
  • chard
  • watercress
  • spinach
  • sunflower seeds
  • asparagus
  • bell peppers
  • broccoli
  • nori
  • almonds
  • pumpkin

For more, see Highest Vitamin E Foods and Recipes.

Thiamin (B1)

People eating more vitamin B1 per calorie tend to consume 15% fewer calories. 

Like other B vitamins, thiamine has also increased since the widespread implementation of fortification. 

The average vitamin B1 intake amongst our Optimiser population is 1.9 mg/2000.  Based on our analysis, we have set our ONI for B1 at 25 mg/2000.

Popular foods that contain more vitamin B1 per calorie include:

  • watercress
  • asparagus
  • endive
  • lettuce
  • spinach
  • prosciutto
  • pickles
  • snow peas
  • alfalfa
  • green peas
  • flax seed
  • bok choy
  • pork

For more, see Highest Thiamine (Vitamin B1) Foods and Recipes.

Vitamin K1

People who get more vitamin K1 per calorie from their food tend to consume 14% fewer calories. 

The average K1 intake of our Optimisers is 395 mcg/2000 calories, which is much more than the 90 mg/day DRI for men.  Based on our satiety analysis, we have set our ONI stretch target at 1,100 mg/2000 calories, which is twelve times the DRI!

Popular foods that contain more vitamin K1 per calorie include:

  • parsley
  • chard
  • watercress
  • spinach
  • kale
  • endive
  • coriander (cilantro)
  • collards
  • chives
  • scallions (top and bulb)
  • romaine lettuce
  • scallions
  • cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts
  • bok choy
  • broccoli

For more, see Highest Vitamin K Foods and Recipes: A Practical Guide.

Vitamin B6

People eating more vitamin B6 per calorie tend to consume 13% fewer calories. 

We can see that the average B6 intake jumped since the mandatory fortification of processed foods began and has since declined. 

Our Optimisers’ average B6 intake is 2.5 mg/2000 calories.  Based on our satiety analysis, we have set an ONI stretch target of 5.0 mg/2000 calories.  This is much less than the Upper Limit of 50 mg/day. 

Popular foods supplying more vitamin B6 per calorie include:

  • bok choy
  • kimchi
  • watercress
  • green peppers
  • spinach
  • zucchini
  • bell peppers
  • garlic
  • liver
  • paprika
  • cauliflower
  • sauerkraut

For more, see Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) Rich Foods and Recipes.

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

People who consume whole food-sourced vitamin C per calorie tend to consume 11% fewer calories.  Vitamin C is one of the most heavily supplemented nutrients, often at very high levels.  However, as shown in the satiety response chart below, there does not seem to be any additional benefit in terms of satiety from consuming more than 350 mg/2000 calories.  

Like some of the other vitamins we’ve mentioned, vitamin C has increased in the food system due to fortification.  It is also used as an anti-browning agent, but its overall availability has fallen since the 1970s. 

The average vitamin C intake from food is 177 mg/2000 calories, but we set our vitamin C ONI at 350 mg/2000 calories based on our analysis. 

Popular foods that contain more vitamin C per calorie include:

  • peppers
  • peppers
  • watercress
  • parsley
  • bok choy
  • kale
  • broccoli
  • chives
  • cauliflower
  • lemon
  • Brussels sprouts
  • cabbage
  • chard

For more, see Highest Vitamin C Foods and Recipes: A Practical Guide.

Vitamin B12

People getting more vitamin B12 per calorie tend to eat 9% fewer calories. 

Vitamin B12 has declined in our food system since the Dietary Goals for Americans were released in 1977.  As a result, you must consume 45% more calories to get the same amount of B12.

The average B12 intake of our Optimisers is 8.3 mcg/2000 calories.  Based on our satiety analysis, we have set an ONI stretch target at 12 mcg/2000 calories, which is five times the DRI of 2 mcg/day for men. 

Popular foods containing more vitamin B12 per calorie include:

For more, see Highest Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) Foods & Recipes.

Bringing It All Together

The chart below illustrates our satiety responses to each vitamin alongside one another.  As you can see, we require the most substantial amounts of vitamins B3, E, B5, and B1.  However, moving from low to high intakes of folate aligns with the largest reduction in calories. 

What Nutrient Has the Most Effect on Satiety

While these vitamins align with a considerable calorie reduction, they don’t act independently.  In other words, the benefit comes from consuming the ‘sum of the parts’, and not just one nutrient. 

The table below summarises the vitamins our analysis on satiety showed were most statistically significant.  Hence, getting enough of them is critical to feeling full, eat fewer calories, and maintain an energy deficit.  When we only consider vitamins, niacin has the most significant impact on satiety. 

niacin (B3)2.1E-1089.744.8-150-9%
riboflavin (B2)3.77E-481.13.5-108-7%
vitamin K0.001718636-18-1%

What Is the Best Vitamin for Weight Loss?

To understand which nutrients have a statistically significant independent impact on satiety, we ran a multivariate analysis on every essential nutrient.  The table below shows the results. 

protein %1.48E-25419%44%-390-25.0%
fibre (g/2000 cal)2.21E-181043-92-5.9%

While protein influences satiety the most—which isn’t shocking given what we know from the Protein Leverage Hypothesis—the analysis shows that folate also significantly impacts our cravings and satiety when all the other nutrients are considered.    

The extremely low p-values show that this is not due to chance (p<0.05 indicates statistical significance).  Hence, it appears we crave this vitamin and will continue to eat more of it until we get what we require. 

Prioritising nutrient-dense foods that naturally contain more of all these essential nutrients per calorie will make it much easier to manage your overall energy intake and, thus, your weight and metabolic health.  Hence, nutrients are the best dietary ingredients for satiety—not some random bottle of supplements!

Do Vitamins Help with Losing Weight? 

All of your essential micronutrients are critical for driving your metabolism; B vitamins are especially vital for utilising energy from carbs, protein, and fat in your food and burning it for fuel.  Hence, it’s critical to get them from the food we eat. 

However, taking too many B vitamins as supplements might have you using more energy than you ordinarily would—and storing it as fat. 

So, it’s critical to stick to whole foods over supplements!

While it might be tempting to order a ton of folate, riboflavin, and niacin supplements, our analysis has shown that artificial nutrients do not affect appetite as those found in whole foods.  It is correlated with an increase in calorie consumption!

How to Implement the Optimal Nutrient Intakes

Rather than jumping straight to the Optimal Nutrient Intakes, we’ve found it’s better to progressively up your nutrient density game from the diet you’re currently eating using the target pre-sets in Cronometer

To help you do this, we’ve included the table below to show different ONI target levels for each vitamin.  The’ game’ aims to hit these vitamin targets while staying under your current energy budget. 

vitamin  beginner (DRI)Level 1 (1000 cal)Level 2 (1500 cal)Level 3 (2000 cal)units
niacin B314304560mg
pantothenic acid (B5)
riboflavin B21.
vitamin A2,3335,0007,50010,000IU
vitamin D6006009001,200IU
vitamin E15131925mg
thiamin B11.11.502.253.0mg
vitamin K1905508251,100mcg
vitamin B612.503.755.0mg
vitamin C75175262350mg
vitamin B1226.009.0012.0mcg
  • Once you’re able to high the ‘beginner’ default targets set in Cronometer, you can level up to Level 1 (half-strength).  These are ideal for people consuming less than 2000 calories. 
  • Once you can hit the level 2 targets for all vitamins, you can level up to the Level 2 targets. 
  • Finally, you can progress to level 3 if you hit all the level 2 targets.  However, you’ll unlikely reach these targets unless you consume significantly more than 2000 calories per day, which can be challenging if you prioritise protein. 

The screenshot below shows how the level 2 targets would look in Cronometer.

For more details on this process, see The Nutrient Bucket-Filling Game.

How Can I Increase My Satiety with Nutrients?

There is no one-size-fits-all ‘supplement ingredient for satietyor one nutrient that will make everyone feel full.  Hence, the best way to ensure you’re feeling full all the time is to consume a nutrient-dense diet full of an array of nutrients.

To learn more about the foods you can improve your satiety levels and feel fuller on for fewer calories, check out:

To quickly determine which nutrients you require more of and the foods and meals that contain them, you can take our Free 7-Day Nutrient Clarity Challenge

If you’re serious about dialling in your nutrient density and taking your Nutritional Optimisation to the next level, you’ll love our Micros Masterclass

Satiety Series