Vitamin D has many benefits to human health. Perhaps its most unnoticed benefit is its ability the help you lose weight.
Vitamin D and Weight Loss
Vitamin D is an important nutrient. It helps keep the immune system strong, is good for your bones, and supports good health in a number of other ways.
You may be surprised to learn there is evidence to suggest Vitamin D may also help you to lose weight.
What Is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin you get from certain foods including cheese, beef liver, and fatty fish such as mackerel and salmon – all good for boosting your immune system.
Your body can also manufacture Vitamin D.
It does this whenever the skin is exposed to the sun. Unfortunately, sunscreen can interfere with the process by blocking the UVB light.
Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin.
Although it’s not a key contributing factor, the use of sunscreen may be part of the reason 50% of the world’s population is deficient in Vitamin D.
Various other environmental and lifestyle factors contribute to the problem as well. As does the fact Vitamin D occurs naturally in so few foods.
Note: Vitamin D is best taken with vitamin K and Magnesium for ultimate absorption.
Why are So Many People Short of Vitamin D?
Poor food choices is one of the main reasons behind Vitamin D deficiency but some people are more prone to the problem than others.
The risk is higher for:
- Breastfed infants
- People with dark skin
- Older adults
- People who are obese
Yes, being obese can make you more prone to Vitamin D deficiency and several studies show it.
That’s a tough curveball to deal with when a lack of Vitamin D can make you more likely to become obese. It’s like being put in a lose-lose situation right from the start.
Of course, the answer is simple. Make sure you get enough Vitamin D.
Fortunately, there are plenty of supplements that can help you to do so.
Obesity and Vitamin D
Some experts think obese people are more probe to being Vitamin D deficient because they don’t eat enough of the right foods.
That’s an obvious connection but plenty of thin people have this deficiency too.
It’s also been suggested the problem could be because people with obesity tend to cover up their skin more, reducing its exposure to the sun.
The truth is, there’s a lot of speculation and not enough facts.
However, the results from a study conducted in 2012 suggest being overweight may not encourage Vitamin D deficiency at all.
The researchers point out that, once you make adjustments for the increased body mass of obese individuals, levels of Vitamin D deficiency among overweight people are similar to those of non-obese people.
To put it another way, it could just be overweight people have a greater requirement for Vitamin D.
This may explain why some research shows losing weight can result in modest increases in circulating Vitamin D.
Nevertheless, there is also evidence that shows increasing levels of Vitamin D in the blood enhances fat loss.
That puts a whole new spin on that curveball mentioned earlier.
It means boosting Vitamin D increases weight loss, which may then further elevate circulating levels of Vitamin D.
Instead of being a lose-lose situation, we are now looking at a win-win situation.
Why Getting More Vitamin D May Make You a Weight-Loss Winner
Researchers have come up with several theories about Vitamin D’s ability to influence weight loss.
Researchers in Korea believe Vitamin D may help you to lose weight by suppressing your body’s ability to store fat.
However, a number of other research studies show Vitamin D has the ability to boost serotonin production.
Serotonin is an important hormone that serves many functions in the body. One of the things it does is help regulate sleep.
Serotonin also appears to be capable of reducing appetite.
That means people with adequate levels of Vitamin D may be less prone to overeat or snack.
Research also shows a relationship between Vitamin D and testosterone. That’s why some testosterone-boosting formulations contain it.
Boosting testosterone can increase fat burning.
It also supports muscle growth. That’s beneficial to weight loss in itself because any increase in muscle mass causes a corresponding increase in metabolism.
A fast metabolism is always desirable because a faster metabolism makes it easier to sustain weight loss.
Vitamin D: Are you Getting Enough?
Existing recommendations state adults need to get at least 600 IU (15 mcg) of Vitamin D per day.
The problem is, research throws a cloud over this by suggesting people who are overweight may need more.
Instead of adopting a one size fits all approach, some researchers suggest using tailor-made calculations.
The formula they recommend is 32-36 IU of Vitamin D per 1-pound of bodyweight.
A heavy person using that formulation would require levels of Vitamin D that are much greater than the established upper limit of 4,000 IU per day.
Is this a cause for concern? Possibly not.
Research subjects have taken 10,000 IU per day without experiencing any negative issues.
However, going overboard with Vitamin D can still be dangerous so it’s best not to consume more than 4,000 IU of Vitamin D unless your doctor advises you it is safe to do so.
Vitamin D and Weight Loss – The Bottom Line
Although there continues to be some gray areas, the relationship between Vitamin D and bodyweight is clear.
Research shows getting too little Vitamin D may cause weight gain.
It also shows upping levels of Vitamin D can support weight loss.
It’s just a pity there are doubts about how much Vitamin D people require per day.
However, if you are an adult who is getting less than the present recommendation of 15 mcg per day it may be worth considering taking action.
Especially if you have little or no exposure to sunlight.
How you boost your Vitamin D levels is up to you. One way is to purposefully choose to eat more foods that are rich in Vitamin D (as part of a low-calorie diet).
The other option is to use supplements. If you are unsure if you get enough Vitamin D, your doctor will be able to do a test, if required, and offer one-to-one advice.