Add Vitamin D to your list of BFFs.
It’s an essential fat-soluble vitamin in a family of compounds that includes vitamins D1, D2, and D3.
Here’s a summary of what Healthline has to tell us.
Your body produces vitamin D naturally when it’s directly exposed to sunlight.
You can also get vitamin D from certain foods and supplements to ensure adequate levels of the vitamin in your blood.
Vitamin D has several important functions.
Perhaps the most vital are regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus and facilitating normal immune system function.
Getting enough vitamin D is important for typical growth and development of bones and teeth, as well as improved resistance to certain diseases.
Here is more information about the benefits of vitamin D, plus information about downsides, how much you need, and foods with vitamin D.
Vitamin D may fight disease.
In addition to its primary benefits, research suggests that vitamin D may also play a role in:
- Reducing the risk of multiple sclerosis (MS). A 2018 review of population-based studies found that low levels of vitamin D are linked with an increased risk of MS .
- Decreasing the chance of heart disease. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to increased risk of heart diseases such as hypertension, heart failure, and stroke. But it’s unclear whether vitamin D deficiency contributes to heart disease or simply indicates poor health when you have a chronic condition.
- Reducing the likelihood of severe illnesses. Although studies are mixed, vitamin D may make severe flu and COVID-19 infections less likely. A recent review found that low vitamin D levels contribute to acute respiratory distress syndrome.
- Supporting immune health. People who do not have adequate vitamin D levels might be at increased risk of infections and autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Research has shown that vitamin D might play an important role in regulating mood and decreasing the risk of depression.
A review of 7,534 people found that those experiencing negative emotions who received vitamin D supplements noticed an improvement in symptoms. Vitamin D supplementation may help people with depression who also have a vitamin D deficiency.
It might support weight loss.
People with higher body weights have a greater chance of low vitamin D levels.
In one study, people with obesity who received vitamin D supplements in addition to following a weight loss diet plan lost more weight and fat mass than the members of the placebo group, who only followed the diet plan.
In an older study, people taking daily calcium and vitamin D supplements lost more weight than subjects taking a placebo supplement. The researchers suggest that the extra calcium and vitamin D may have had an appetite-suppressing effect.
The current research doesn’t support the idea that vitamin D would cause weight loss, but there appears to be a relationship between vitamin D and weight.
Overweight People Tend to Have Lower Vitamin D Levels
Studies show that a higher body mass index and body fat percentage are associated with lower blood levels of vitamin D.
Several different theories speculate about the relationship between low vitamin D levels and obesity.
Some claim that obese people tend to consume fewer vitamin D-rich foods, thus explaining the association.
Others point to behavioral differences, noting that obese individuals tend to expose less skin and may not be absorbing as much vitamin D from the sun.
Furthermore, certain enzymes are needed to convert vitamin D into its active form, and levels of these enzymes may differ between obese and non-obese individual.
However, a 2012 study noted that once vitamin D levels in obese individuals are adjusted for body size, there’s no difference between levels in obese and non-obese individuals.
This indicates that your vitamin D needs depend on body size, meaning obese individuals need more than normal-weight people to reach the same blood levels. This could help explain why obese people are more likely to be deficient.
Losing weight can also affect your vitamin D levels.
In theory, a reduction in body size would mean a decrease in your vitamin D requirement. However, since the amount of it in your body remains the same when you lose weight, your levels would actually increase.
And the degree of weight loss may affect the extent to which its levels increase.
One study found that even small amounts of weight loss led to a modest increase in blood levels of vitamin D.
Furthermore, participants who lost at least 15% of their body weight experienced increases that were nearly three times greater than those seen in participants who lost 5–10% of their body weight.
Moreover, some evidence shows that increasing vitamin D in the blood can reduce body fat and boost weight loss.
Higher Vitamin D levels may aid weight loss.
Some evidence suggests that getting enough vitamin D could enhance weight loss and decrease body fat.
One study looked at 218 overweight and obese women over a one-year period. All were put on a calorie-restricted diet and exercise routine. Half of the women received a vitamin D supplement, while the other half received a placebo.
At the end of the study, researchers found that women who fulfilled their vitamin D requirements experienced more weight loss, losing an average of 7 pounds (3.2 kg) more than the women who did not have adequate blood levels.
Another study provided overweight and obese women with vitamin D supplements for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, the women didn’t experience any weight loss, but they did find that increasing levels of vitamin D decreased body fat.
Vitamin D could also be associated with a decrease in weight gain.
A study in over 4,600 elderly women found that higher levels of vitamin D were linked to less weight gain between visits during the span of the 4.5-year study.
In short, increasing your vitamin D intake may promote weight loss, although more research is needed before strong conclusions can be reached.
How Does Vitamin D Aid Weight Loss?
Several theories attempt to explain vitamin D’s effects on weight loss.
Studies show that vitamin D could potentially reduce the formation of new fat cells in the body.
It could also suppress the storage of fat cells, effectively reducing fat accumulation.
Additionally, vitamin D can increase levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects everything from mood to sleep regulation.
Serotonin may play a role in controlling your appetite and can increase satiety, reduce body weight and decrease calorie intake.
It’s clear there’s an intricate relationship between vitamin D status and weight.
Getting enough vitamin D can keep your hormone levels in check and may help enhance weight loss and decrease body fat.
In turn, losing weight can increase vitamin D levels and help you maximize its other benefits, such as maintaining strong bones and protecting against illness.
If you get limited exposure to the sun or are at risk of deficiency, it may be a good idea to consider taking supplements.
Supplementing with vitamin D may help keep your weight under control and optimize your overall health.
Why do people with overweight or obesity issues often have lower vitamin D levels?
Currently, most researchers believe that the lower vitamin D levels observed in people with overweight or obesity issues may be explained by other factors.
For instance, since vitamin D is stored in fatty tissues, people with larger amounts of body fat may need greater amounts of vitamin D to maintain blood levels similar to those of people of lower body weights.
People with overweight or obesity may also spend less time outdoors, or eat less vitamin-D-rich or vitamin-D-fortified foods.
Accordingly, experts suggest that people with overweight may need 1.5 times more vitamin D than individuals with BMIs in the “normal” range to maintain similar blood levels, whereas people with obesity may require 2–3 times more.
Several factors can affect your ability to get adequate vitamin D from sunlight alone.
You may be less likely to absorb enough vitamin D from the sun if you:
- live in an area with high pollution
- use sunscreen
- spend most of your time indoors
- live in a big city where buildings block sunlight
- have darker skin (The higher the levels of melanin, the less vitamin D your skin can absorb.)
These factors can increase your risk of vitamin D deficiency. That’s why it’s important to get some of your vitamin D from non-sunlight sources.
What are the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?
The symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency in adults may include :
- tiredness, aches, and pains
- severe bone or muscle pain or weakness
- stress fractures, especially in your legs, pelvis, and hips
A healthcare professional can diagnose a vitamin D deficiency by performing a simple blood test. If you have a deficiency, your doctor may order X-rays to check the strength of your bones.
Your healthcare professional will likely recommend that you take vitamin D supplements. If you have a severe deficiency, they may recommend high dose vitamin D tablets or liquids.
You should also make sure to get vitamin D through sunlight and the foods you eat.
Risks of getting too much Vitamin D.
If you take excessive amounts of vitamin D supplements, you may get too much of it. However, this is unlikely to happen through diet or sun exposure because your body regulates the amount of vitamin D produced through sun exposure.
Vitamin D toxicity can lead to an increase in your blood calcium levels. This can result in a variety of health issues, such as:
- abdominal pain
- increased thirst
Some food sources of Vitamin D.
Some foods contain vitamin D naturally, and others are fortified with it. You can find vitamin D in the following foods:
- canned tuna
- cod liver oil
- beef liver
- egg yolk
- regular mushrooms and those treated with ultraviolet light
- milk (fortified)
- certain cereals and oatmeals (fortified)
- yogurt (fortified)
- orange juice (fortified)
It can be hard to get enough vitamin D each day through sun exposure and food alone, so taking vitamin D supplements could help.
How much Vitamin D do you need?
There has been some debate over the amount of vitamin D required for optimal functioning. Recent studies indicate that we need more vitamin D than previously thought.
Some of the main controversies surrounding vitamin D are:
- standardization of methods for measuring vitamin D levels
- the difference between free and total vitamin D testing
- defining low vitamin D status (insufficiency versus deficiency)
- screening versus treatment
- vitamin D threshold for the general population relative to a particular condition (such as pregnancy or breastfeeding) and health issues (such as kidney failure or osteoporosis)
Blood serum levels considered adequate range from 50–100 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L). Depending on your blood level, you may need more vitamin D.
Vitamin D has many potential benefits. It may reduce the risk of certain diseases, help improve mood and reduce depression symptoms, and help with weight management.
It’s hard to get enough vitamin D through your diet alone, so you may want to ask a healthcare professional for a blood test and consider taking a vitamin D supplement.
Testing and, if necessary, augmenting your Vitamin D intake can make weight loss easier.
Let’s get those Vitamin D rich foods included in your customized Food Plan to make weight loss easier.
Please take me up on my offer for your FREE Strategy Call. Then we can discuss best next steps so you can see for yourself how to jump start weight loss by intentionally incorporating a variety of helpful habits and strategies into your daily routines.
This exploration can help you reach your weight loss goals with a lot less stress and drama.
It’s totally possible to make 2022 your year to create the healthiest you. No matter your age, stage or past disappointments.
Jump start your fresh start. A year from now you will thank yourself you reached out to me today.
I’m looking forward to meeting you soon.
It’s Never Too Late to make your weight loss journey easier. Let’s go!
Please share this post with someone you think could benefit from this message.