The Role of Vitamins in Satiety and Weight Management

Have you ever wondered if the vitamins you take daily play a role in your hunger levels?

In previous articles, we’ve examined the role of protein, amino acids, and minerals in the regulation of your hunger, appetite and satiety.  To round out the discussion, this article examines the satiety response to the vitamins.   As you’ll see:

  • nutrient-dense foods that contain more vitamins per calorie align with eating less; however,
  • the satiety impact of vitamins is much smaller than for protein and minerals and not statistically significant, so
  • simply adding a multivitamin to your junk food as ‘nutritional insurance’ probably won’t help you lose weight. 

In this guide, you’ll discover:

  • the minimum vitamin levels your body instinctively seeks,
  • the optimal intake of each vitamin that aligns with greater satiety.

Embark on this enlightening journey to unearth the potential of vitamins in reshaping your health and vitality.  

Do Vitamins Help You Lose Weight? 

We all eat to satiety.  Your appetite is constantly at work, like a nutrient-seeking missile, to ensure you get enough of the right balance of nutrients vs energy.  

Our analysis has shown that we have a strong satiety response to protein and minerals (e.g. sodium, calcium, potassium and iron).  In this article, you’ll learn how foods that contain more vitamins align with eating less. 

Satiety Response to Foods with More Niacin (Vitamin B3)

To illustrate, the chart below shows the satiety response to niacin (vitamin B3) in our diet based on our analysis of 313,836 days of data from free-living people. 

satiety response to niacin (B3)
  • Food containing minimal niacin tastes bland, so we eat less.  However, we still crave and eat more food to get the niacin and other nutrients we need.
  • Food that contains more niacin per calorie satisfies our requirements for niacin more efficiently.  Nutrient-dense foods that provide the nutrients we require more efficiently tend to have a stronger taste, so we eat less
  • Between these extremes, we see a Bliss Point, or the point at which we eat the most when our diet contains around 18 mg of niacin per 2000 calories.   
  • ·         People who get the Optimal Nutrient Intake for niacin of 50 mg/2000 calories from food consume 26% fewer calories.  

Satiety Response to all Vitamins

We’ve included the satiety response charts for each essential vitamin at the end of this article (in Appendix A).  But to summarise, the chart below shows the satiety response for all the essential vitamins, showing that, to varying degrees, we eat less when we pack more of each of the vitamins into our food. 

satiety response to all the essential vitamins

But while a higher concentration of each vitamin correlates with eating less, correlation does not necessarily equal causation when it comes to vitamins.  Before reaching for your multivitamin tables, you need to understand that there is a little more to the story.  

How Much of Each Vitamin Do You Need?

The recommended nutrient targets have been determined using small studies to observe the effects of short-term deficiencies.  However, our satiety analysis provides additional insights into the minimum amount we crave for each nutrient.    

As shown in the chart for niacin above, the Bliss Point is the minimum amount of each nutrient our bodies appear to crave that aligns with the maximum energy intake

To eat less and increase satiety, we must aim to get more than the minimum. 

To help Optimisers set realistic stretch targets for the essential nutrients, we’ve created the Optimal Nutrient Intakes to identify stretch targets achievable with food that aligns with eating less (without supplements or fortification). 

The table below shows the bliss point and Optimal Nutrient Intake for each vitamin (per 2000 calories).  Initially, you can treat the bliss point as a minimum.  Later, you can work towards the Optimal Nutrient Intake from nutrient-dense foods

vitaminBliss PointONIunit
niacin (B3)1850mg
vitamin B61.54mg
riboflavin (B2)1.44mg
vitamin A4001200mcg
vitamin E720mg
vitamin B53.910mg
thiamine (B1)1.33mg
vitamin K155140mcg
vitamin B123.68mcg
vitamin C55160mg

The snip below shows what the ONI targets for vitamins would look like in Cronometer

In our Micros Masterclass, we guide Optimisers to ensure they get the minimum intake of each nutrient with foods and meals that contain more of their priority nutrients per serving.  Once they’ve met the minimum, they can progressively level up their nutrition game by packing in more of each nutrient per calorie with nutrient-dense foods

What are the Best Vitamins for Weight Loss?

The data also provides insight into which vitamins align with greater satiety and weight loss.  

The table below shows the satiety response when we move from the Bliss Point to the Optimal Nutrient Intake for each vitamin. 

vitaminsatiety response
niacin (B3)26%
vitamin B624%
riboflavin (B2)24%
folate (B9)22%
vitamin A21%
vitamin E21%
vitamin B519%
thiamine (B1)18%
vitamin K117%
vitamin B1214%
vitamin C14%

For vitamin B3, people who reach the ONI for vitamin B3 from their food consume 26% fewer calories than those getting the bliss point intake.  This is followed by vitamin B6, which has a 24% satiety response. 

But again, it’s important to point out that the satiety response is due to foods that contain more of these vitamins (not supplements).   To illustrate why this may be the case, the infographics below show some of the most popular foods that contain more vitamins B3 and B6 per calorie. 

While your multivitamin is unlikely to crush your cravings, foods that naturally contain more vitamins per calorie are harder to overeat.  This may be partly because vitamin-rich foods also contain more protein and fibre and lower energy density. 

Do We Have a Specific Appetite for Vitamins?

Specific appetite, also known as specific hunger, is a drive to eat foods with specific flavours or other characteristics.  

Specific appetite is a mechanism that helps animals ensure they get the nutrients they need.  For example, an animal deficient in a particular nutrient may develop a specific appetite for foods that contain that nutrient.  

While it’s well-accepted that we have a specific hunger for nutrients like protein and sodium, the data also tells us whether we subconsciously crave vitamins. 

Variance Analysis

The chart below shows the variance (i.e. standard deviation divided by the average) in the intake of the various nutrients across the 313,836 days of data. 

  • Towards the top, we can see that we tightly regulate our intake of protein and minerals, like sodium, potassium, iron and calcium. 
  • Meanwhile, there is a wide variation in the intake of most vitamins, which suggests that they do not drive our appetite to the extent that protein and some larger minerals do. 
  • The vitamins that appear to regulate our intake more than others are vitamin B5, folate and niacin. 

The high degree of variance in the data is likely in part because synthetic vitamins are small and cheap, often used in supplements and food fortification.  In contrast, we consume much larger quantities of protein, potassium and calcium.  They are also more expensive to produce, so they are less likely to be found in food fortification.  

Multivariate Analysis

Multivariate analysis allows us to understand which nutrients have a statistically significant relationship with eating less and thus eliminate the variable that is not statistically significant. 

When we look at all 313,836 days of data together, we see that protein % dominates that satiety equation.  However, calcium, potassium, iron and sodium are still statistically significant.   Vitamin C is the only statistically significant vitamin, with a minor contribution compared to protein and minerals. 

Principal Component Analysis

We’ve also undertaken a Principal Component Analysis of the data to understand how the nutrients are clustered and which are dominant.  The PCA demonstrates that no single nutrient dominates the satiety equation. 

Instead, the vitamins tend to be clustered in foods that align with greater satiety.  So, we can’t expect synthetic isolated supplements to have the same effect as foods containing these nutrients in the forms and ratios our bodies understand. 


This analysis doesn’t confirm or deny if we have a specific appetite for vitamins.  As suggested by the satiety curves, we may have some degree of craving for vitamins if they are deficient in our diet.  However, many vitamins are plentiful in our modern food system due to supplementation and fortification, so we are much less likely to crave vitamins. 

Meanwhile, the data clearly show that getting adequate protein and minerals like sodium, potassium, iron, and calcium from our food is a much higher priority for most people than getting more vitamins. 

Fortification:  A Double-Edged Sword?

To account for the lack of nutrients naturally contained in their constituent ingredients, ultra-processed foods are often fortified with synthetic vitamins.  Hence, due to food fortification and supplementation, the availability of vitamins B1, B3, B6, and iron has increased sharply in our food system over the past half-century. 

On the one hand, for people who cannot get the minimum intake of these nutrients, fortification may prevent deficiency diseases such as pellagra and beriberi.  However, the presence of these synthetic supplements, in addition to artificial flavours and colourings, may also make us more willing to continue to chow down on sugared and fortified breakfast cereal rather than getting bored of them and going in search of the meat and seafood that naturally contain these nutrients. 

Vitamins also enable us to use the energy in our food not only to move, but to store it.  So, simply adding synthetic vitamins to our food may help us eat more of and store more energy from ultra-processed foods. 

Although this effect is likely small and one of many factors, it likely makes ultra-processed foods irresistible and highly profitable.  Ultra-processed foods are not devoid of nutrients, but they have just enough to keep us interested and ensure we keep eating them.  Meanwhile, nutrient-dense foods that pack in more nutrients per calorie crush our cravings more efficiently. 

For more details, see Nutrients: Could You Be Getting Too Much of a Good Thing (from Supplements and Fortification)?


It appears that vitamins play some role in satiety and weight management but to a much lesser extent than protein and some minerals.  

Nutrient-dense foods provide a higher concentration of vitamins for overall health and influence satiety and caloric intake.  Meanwhile, ultra-processed foods that we tend to overeat contain just enough nutrients, often from fortification, to prevent us from getting bored of them and searching for minimally processed foods that naturally contain vitamins and the protein and minerals we crave. 

When optimising your nutrition for greater satiety, your priority should be to get the protein and minerals you need from food that naturally contains them.  These foods typically contain plenty of vitamins, but if you want to take your nutrition to the highest level, you can strive for the Optimal Nutrient Intakes from food. 

Appendix – Vitamin Satiety Charts

This appendix contains more details for those interested in learning more about the bliss points and how we determined the ONIs for the vitamins. 

These charts were created using the GAM Fit spline function in RStudio.  The shading shows the 99th percentile confidence bands. 

Even though vitamins are not statistically significant when all the other nutrients are considered, we still see a clear signal in the data for each vitamin, highlighting the bliss point where we eat the most and where intakes that can only be achieved via supplementation do not provide greater satiety. 

Niacin (B3)

The ONI for niacin has been set at 50 mg/2000 calories, nearly three times the bliss point.  Beyond the ONI, the satiety response starts to taper off. 

The ONI is greater than the Upper Limit (from supplementation) of 35 mg per day.  However, the Upper Limit is due to the sometimes uncomfortable ‘niacin flush’ (like an internal sauna) that only occurs with supplements, not niacin in food. 

Vitamin B6

The ONI for B6 has been set at three times the bliss point, which is also the point where the satiety response flattens out.  While the ONI is achievable with food, we do not see a greater satiety response from B6 intakes that could only be achieved with supplements and fortification.   

Riboflavin (B2)

The ONI for vitamin B2 has been set just under three times the bliss point based, where the confidence bands indicate less reliable data. 

Folate (B9)

The ONI for folate (B9) has been set at the Upper Limit for folate, which is 2.6 times the bliss point.  Excessive B9 supplementation can mask B12 deficiency.  Although higher folate intakes (e.g. from vegetables) appear to align with greater satiety, these higher intakes are less common from whole foods. 

Vitamin A

Although higher intakes of vitamin A are common and tend to align with greater satiety, the ONI has been set at three times the bliss point.  While people get much higher intakes of vitamin A (e.g. from organ meats), this does not align with greater satiety.  

Vitamin E

The ONI for vitamin E has been set based on the point at which the satiety response plateaus, which is 2.9 times the bliss point.  Higher intakes of vitamin E tend to come from refined seed oils rather than vegetables, which do not provide greater satiety. 

Vitamin B5

Vitamin B5 has the widest confidence interval band (i.e. grey shading) of all the vitamins, possibly because it is commonly used in fortification and energy drinks.   The ONI has been set at the point where the satiety response starts to taper off, which is 2.6 times the bliss point.  

Thiamine (B1)

The ONI for vitamin B1 has been set at 2.5 times the bliss point, where the satiety response starts to taper off.  Higher intakes of B1, which are only achievable from fortification and supplements, do not provide greater satiety. 

Vitamin B12

The ONI for B12 has been set at 2.2 times the bliss point, where the confidence bands widen.  Due to cost and difficulty in manufacture, B12 is not used in fortification.

Vitamin K1

The ONI for K1 has been set at 2.5 times the bliss point based on where the satiety response plateaus.  Interestingly, the DRI for K1, which is mainly found in vegetables, is much closer to the ONI than the bliss point than any of the other nutrients. 

Vitamin C

The bliss point for vitamin C has been set at three times the bliss point, which is where the satiety response starts to taper off. 

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