Skip to main content

Overweight and metabolic syndrome are linked to vitamin B deficiency

Overweight and metabolic syndrome are linked to vitamin B deficiencyMetabolic syndrome, which is an early stage of diabetes, is spreading like a bushfire. This condition is characterized by overweight, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and disrupted blood sugar metabolism. The diet plays a major role, and scientists have found a direct link between the intake and serum levels of vitamin B6, folic acid (vitamin B9), and vitamin B12, according to a large American population study that is published in JAMA Network Open. The authors also address how these B vitamins can help improve the glucose metabolism and prevent metabolic syndrome.

CARDIA, the American population study, included 4,414 white and dark-skinned participants with an even representation of both genders. At study start in 1985-1986, the average age of the participants was nearly 25 years, and the study was terminated in 2015-2016. The participants’ intake of vitamin B6, folic acid (vitamin B9), and vitamin B12 from the diet and from supplements was calculated several times by using a special data system. Along the course of the study, the scientists also measured levels of the mentioned B vitamins in the serum of the participants on several occasions. Participants with either extremely low or extremely high calorie intake were excluded from the study. The same was the case with pregnant women and people who already suffered from metabolic syndrome.
During the study’s approximately 30-year follow-up period, 1,240 of the participants developed metabolic syndrome, which is more than 30 percent of the volunteers.
The study revealed a significant link between low levels of the mentioned B vitamins in both the diet and the blood of the participants among white and colored young adults in the United States.

What effect does the B vitamins have on our metabolism?

B vitamins are involved in a host of different enzyme processes that are important for our energy turnover, nervous system, hormone system, and number of other functions. Vitamin B6, folic acid, and vitamin B12 are also important for our ability to convert homocysteine into other amino acids.
If blood levels of homocysteine are too high, our risk of oxidative stress increases and that can cause damage to cells and the circulatory system. There is also increasing evidence to suggest that low levels of these B vitamins in the blood can result in insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, elevated lipid and cholesterol levels, circulatory problems, hypertension, and abdominal obesity, all of which are hallmarks of metabolic syndrome. In spite of this, there is only limited data that links these B vitamins directly to the condition.
The results from the CARDIA study therefore shed new light on how vitamin B6, folic acid, and vitamin B12 help prevent metabolic syndrome, and the scientists warrant more studies to confirm their assumptions.

Vitamin B sources and things that cause deficiency

Good sources of vitamin B are things like coarse greens, wholegrains, oats, legumes, vegetables, nuts, seeds, kernels, fruit, and rice (brown, black or red). Other sources are liver, meat, and fish.
Vitamin B12 is only found in animal food sources. The uptake of this nutrient requires having enough stomach acid. The B vitamins are water-soluble and therefore not stored in the body (with the exception of B12). We therefore need to consume these vitamins regularly.
Poor absorption and utilization of B vitamins can be a result of eating an unhealthy diet, consuming processed foods, overcooking, consuming too much sugar, stimulant abuse, antacids, diuretics, and birth control pills.

More information about weight control and metabolic syndrome

Click on the link below and read more about how chromium, vitamin D, magnesium, Q10, and certain dietary changes may have a positive effect on weight control, blood sugar, and metabolic syndrome.

»Blood sugar, diabetes, and supplements«


Jie Zhu et al. Folate, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12 Status in Association With Metabolic Syndrome Incidence. Jama Network Open. 2023

  • Created on .