Vitamin D And Weight Loss, A Surprising Combination

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Losing weight can be difficult.  With time and commitment and a lot of hard work, results can be achieved but even if you are following a strict diet and exercise plan you may not be seeing the results you wish to see. Truth is, restricting caloric intake is important but slow weight loss may be a result of what you are not putting into your body, rather than what you are.

What is vitamin D?

Vitamin D is responsible for intestinal absorption of calcium and phosphate and is essential for the development of strong bones. In conjunction with Calcium and sunlight, vitamin D helps to digest food and regulate blood sugar levels in the body.  In a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers found that 75 percent or more of American teens and adults are deficient in vitamin D. (defined as having blood levels of less than 30 nanograms per milliliter).

A vitamin D deficiency is most often caused from a lack of sun.  Avoiding the sun and / or excessive use of sunscreen may put you at risk.  Vegetarian diets and the avoidance of milk and dairy products, most often due to allergies, can also put you at risk of a vitamin D deficiency. A Vitamin D deficiency is linked to a variety of illnesses, including: rickets, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and obesity.  In the past 10 years there has been significant research linking vitamin d deficiency to obesity and there fore maintaining the daily allowance of vitamin D in your diet can be an important component to managing your weight.

Vitamin D and Weight loss

Vitamin D plays a vital role in strengthening bones, boosting our immune system and fighting depression but new studies have shown that a lack of vitamin D is a major cause in obesity. A growing body of evidence shows that vitamin D supplementation is associated with lower body weight and better metabolic health.

At the University of Minnesota, researchers placed 38 obese men and women on a diet program that included nutritional supplements.  The study showed a direct link between the increase in vitamin D and overall pounds lost. They found that individuals had greater success in losing weight when their Vitamin D levels were increased, losing up to a half pound more than those who did not use the supplement.

In a 2011 study published in the “Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism,” 237 children with low levels of vitamin D were more likely to be overweight with a high body mass index compared to children with adequate levels of the vitamin. And a Kaiser Permanente study, published online in the recent issue of the Journal of Women’s Health, looked at more than 4,600 women aged 65 and older for a four and one-half year period. Researchers found women with low levels of vitamin D in their blood gained about two pounds more than those with adequate levels of the vitamin.

“Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most commonly unrecognized medical conditions,” says Michael F. Holick, M.D., PH.D., a professor of medicine at Boston University medical center and author of The Vitamin D Solution.  “And that deficiency negatively affects every cell in your body- including your fat cells.”

Vitamin D Melts Fat

With over 3000 studies, the results are astounding!

Vitamin D works to regulate the efficiency of insulin in the body. Insulin is a hormone secreted from the pancreas that facilitates glucose from blood sugar into cells to be used as fuel. Cells metabolize the glucose for energy. When cells become insulin resistant the more likely it is that the calories you eat will end up as fat cells.

Vitamin D also optimizes your body’s ability to absorb other important weight-loss nutrients, especially calcium. Synthase is a fatty acid enzyme that converts calories into fat.  When your bodies lack calcium, most often due to a vitamin D deficiency, synthase production can increase by up to 500 percent. Studies have shown that the higher the body fat, the lower the vitamin D levels are in the body.  Without adequate amounts of vitamin D, your body, rather than burning calories for energy, will actually store fat, your metabolism will slow, and weight-loss efforts will slow down and possibly fail.

Meanwhile, Vitamin D also helps to curb cravings and hunger. Vitamin D works in correlation with leptin, a hormone made in the body’s fat cells. It works to assist in body weight regulation by sending messages to the brain that you are full, thereby helping to control appetite. When your vitamin D level is below the optimal range, this balancing act gets thrown off course and the signals to the brain by the leptin are short-circuited. This lack of communication to the brain leads to overeating.

Vitamin D causes fat cells to become more metabolically active, helping you burn fat easier, helping your body shift from a fat storing mode to a fat burning mode. The Vitamin D Diet, recently praised on the Dr. Oz show, says you can lose more than ten pounds in four weeks.

Vitamin D regulates blood pressure, reduces stress and tension, reduces inflammation, and helps fight depression.  Vitamin D can even help improve overall skin health by reducing wrinkles and making the skin softer, stronger, and smooth.  And Vitamin D is recommended in the treatment of several diseases, warding off osteoporosis, preeclampsia, diabetes, and cancer. For optimal overall health and immunity, Vitamin D is a supplement superstar!

How much D is good for me?

Your body will naturally make vitamin D through exposure to UVB rays from the sun.  That’s why it is often called, “the Sunshine Vitamin.”  Vitamin D occurs naturally in a few foods — including some fish, fish liver oils, and egg yolks — and in fortified dairy and grain products but getting the necessary daily amount can be difficult and researches suggest supplements can be a nice solution to the problem.

Guidelines from the Institute of Medicine increased the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin D to 600 international units (IU) for everyone aged 1-70, and raised it to 800 IU for adults older than 70 to optimize bone health. But that might not even be enough.  Research shows that in addition to bone health vitamin D also benefits the immune system, muscles, the pancreas, heart, and also the brain. The Endocrine Society recently released a revised recommendation of 1,500 to 2,000 IU of Vitamin D a day for good health.

Physicians also recommend that you get the natural vitamin D from at least 15 minutes of natural sun exposure three to five times a day. If you don’t spend much time in the sun, or are careful to cover your skin (sunscreen inhibits vitamin D production), you can supplement with dietary sources, such as cod liver oil, mushrooms, oily fish such as salmon, veal, liver, beef and vitamin D fortified bread, butter, margarine and milk, or from vitamin supplements.

Speak to your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement, and the particularly if you have risk factors for vitamin D deficiency.  It may be necessary to get your blood levels measured, especially if you have a family history of heart disease, cancer, or depression. If you are extremely low, your doctor might recommend higher doses of D.  The more supplements you take, does not mean the more weight you will lose.  Vitamin D is an actual hormone in the body and you can overdose by taking too much.

The Benefits to Vitamin D

 The bottom line is this, study after study shows the benefits of Vitamin D and weight loss.  By fueling your body with the D-rich nutrients it needs to get out of a fat-storage state and into a fat-burning one, you could potentially speed weight loss by up to 70 percent. Here are the benefits to adding Vitamin D to your daily diet.  A little sun is good for the body and the soul!

1 You’ll eat less but feel more satisfied.

2 You’ll store less fat.

3 You’ll burn more fat—especially belly fat.

4 You’ll lose weight—and help your heart.

5 Overall, your immune system, pancreas, brain and muscles will be much happier!