Vitamin D, commonly known as the sunshine vitamin, is a micronutrient necessary for both physical and mental health: it maintains strong bones and teeth, regulates your mood, and is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle.
Recent findings suggest that vitamin D plays a role in weight management. But does that mean that taking supplements will boost your weight loss efforts? Keep reading to find out.
Can Vitamin D Help With Weight Loss?
Yes, if you have a vitamin D deficiency and are trying to lose weight, supplements can help you. Though research on this topic is still in its early stages, studies suggest that vitamin D promotes weight loss in several ways:
- Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorus, crucial in maintaining healthy bones and muscles.
- Several studies have found that vitamin D can reduce the formation and storage of new fat cells, which may help reduce body fat.
- In addition, vitamin D has been shown to increase the “feel-good hormone,” serotonin, dubbed as nature’s own appetite suppressant. Higher serotonin levels may reduce calorie intake and prevent overeating, as they diminish hunger and increase the feeling of satiety.
It’s important to note that vitamin D supplementation alone is not an effective weight loss method. And while numerous studies have found a link between vitamin D and weight loss, none of them support a cause-and-effect relationship.
Vitamin D supplements can support your weight loss journey, but they’re not magic pills that’ll make you lose weight on their own. A healthy lifestyle, including a well-balanced diet, regular exercise, and 8 hours of sleep, is the key to losing weight and keeping it off.
As you lose weight, vitamin D levels in your body increase, delivering other health benefits.
How Can Vitamin D Help Your Overall Health?
Vitamin D can help you lose unwanted pounds, but this is definitely not its most important function: its primary roles in the human body include maintaining bone health (by facilitating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus) and, according to the latest research, preventing chronic diseases.
Let’s dig deeper into 4 ways vitamin D can improve your overall health.
Supports your immune system
Vitamin D helps your immune system fight off bacteria and viruses, but it does way more than help you stay healthy in the short term—it also plays an essential role in preventing the development of chronic, autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and lupus.
Taking care of your immune system can be as easy as adding vitamin D supplements to your daily routine. In fact, recent studies have found that increasing your vitamin D intake through supplementation can lower the risk of developing autoimmune diseases.
May reduce the risk of heart disease
Many studies show the importance of normal vitamin D levels for maintaining a healthy heart. On the contrary, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of heart diseases like coronary artery disease, ischemic heart disease, heart failure, and even stroke.
However, it’s worth noting that high-dose vitamin D supplements haven’t been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, and they won’t work on their own against an unhealthy lifestyle —which increases the risk of heart disease on its own.
More research is needed to determine how vitamin D can improve heart health, but we do know that, when combined with a healthy diet, exercise, and a good sleep schedule, its impact on the heart’s well-being can be positive.
May improve your mood
Have you noticed that even a little sunshine outside your window can improve your mood? Sun exposure has been shown to produce serotonin, a “feel-good” hormone that helps regulate your mood.
Sun exposure is one of the best ways to get enough vitamin D. However, it’s important to remember that the sun alone won’t be strong enough to enable your body to produce the recommended amount of vitamin D during the cold seasons—especially if you live in a Northern country or if you spend most of your days indoors.
Low levels of serotonin have been associated with depression and feelings of sadness. Thankfully, an action as simple as enjoying the sun for 10-30 minutes can help you get enough vitamin D, boost your serotonin production, and ultimately improve your mood.
May reduce the risk of chronic disease
Studies suggest that normal levels of vitamin D can reduce the risk of developing certain chronic diseases, as it helps fight one of their main predecessors—inflammation.
Additionally, research has shown that vitamin D can reduce the growth of cancer cells, which can assist in preventing this illness as well.
While low vitamin D levels have been linked to chronic disease, it is important to note that this does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between chronic illness and vitamin D deficiency. Multiple factors can lead to the development of chronic health issues, and, to prevent them, it might be necessary to take care of your health as a whole through your overall lifestyle choices.
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies worldwide, but it is especially prevalent in older adults as vitamin D production decreases with age.
Some of the most common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include:
- Muscle pain
- Bone pain
- Pale skin
- Hair loss
Another symptom of vitamin D deficiency is weight gain. In fact, studies have found that individuals with low vitamin D levels tend to have higher body mass indexes and body fat percentages.
On top of that, vitamin D deficiency negatively impacts bone health. It may put you at a higher risk of developing osteomalacia, making your bones soft, fragile, and prone to fractures.
Tips for Getting Enough Vitamin D Every Day
Vitamin D is both a micronutrient (which you can get from food and supplements) and a hormone (which your skin produces as a response to sunlight).
However, the list of foods containing vitamin D is quite limited, which makes vitamin D supplementation necessary—especially during the cold seasons, when the sun is not as intense, and we tend to spend more time indoors.
To ensure you’re getting the amount of vitamin D you need, it’s essential to understand the recommended dosage of this micronutrient for your age group and try to keep it stable throughout the year.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin D varies on the age and gender of the individual, but the general recommendation for both men and women aged 19 to 50, is 15mcg (600 IU).
However, it’s worth noting that the amount of vitamin D you should get may also depend on your body weight—some studies suggest that obese and overweight individuals require higher doses of vitamin D than the RDA for vitamin D.
Other factors to consider when determining your vitamin D needs are the current season, sun exposure, and your location’s latitude.
To accurately define your vitamin D requirements and avoid exceeding your needed amount, consult a healthcare professional before purchasing supplements.
As mentioned above, very few foods contain vitamin D—which means that food is not the primary source of vitamin D for most people.
In any case, if you have a deficiency or want to increase your vitamin D intake, you should incorporate some of these foods into your diet, especially during the winter months.
Foods that contain vitamin D include:
- Fatty fish
- Fish liver oils
- Beef liver
- Egg yolk
Since the list of foods with naturally occurring vitamin D is short, many brands fortify their foods to make them more nutritionally complete—for example, it’s common for manufacturers to add vitamin D to milk, breakfast cereals, and orange juice. However, these foods tend to be highly processed and should not be considered a primary source of vitamins.
Getting the recommended amount of vitamin D during the cold season may be challenging, as our exposure to sunlight gets reduced significantly. As mentioned before, other factors like aging may also make it harder for the body to reach its necessary vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D supplements may come in handy to help you stay healthy all year round. In fact, it’s often recommended to take these supplements during the cold seasons in countries like Canada or Finland, where the population doesn’t usually get enough sun exposure.
They usually come in the form of dietary supplements (D2 and D3) and multivitamins, all in different dosages and recommended intake instructions. Before making any purchase, consult a healthcare professional who will recommend the best course of action for your needs.
Is It Possible To Get Too Much Vitamin D?
Yes, it’s possible to get too much vitamin D. It usually happens as a result of excessive supplementation, which can lead to calcium build-up in the blood, damage the kidneys and the heart, and even weaken your bones.
Other symptoms of excessive vitamin D intake include:
- Weight loss
It’s worth noting that getting too much vitamin D from sunlight or food alone is impossible. Therefore, if you notice these symptoms, stop taking your supplements and consult your doctor.
Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies worldwide. Low vitamin D levels can weaken your immune system, cause mood changes, and increase the risk of depression.
Recent findings suggest that vitamin D may promote weight loss in people who have low levels of vitamin D. However, taking supplements will not help you lose weight on its own.
A healthy lifestyle consisting of a well-balanced diet and regular exercise is vital to weight loss. However, maintaining healthy levels of vitamin D in your blood can help you prevent multiple diseases and stay healthy in the long run.
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