Low levels have been linked to an increased risk of serious diseases such as heart disease, certain types of cancer and diabetes, as well as an overall increased risk of death from any cause compared to people with sufficient levels. Insufficient vitamin D has also been implicated in obesity, and if you are currently trying to shed those extra pounds, making sure you get enough vitamin D may be part an important in succeeding in your efforts.
Vitamin D and Your Weight
When it comes your weight, vitamin D has its hand in numerous processes that influence that number on the scale. Every cell in your body needs vitamin D to function properly, including your fat cells; in this instance, these cells have receptors for the vitamin and when it locks on, it sends a message to burn fat rather than store it. This nutrient also plays a role in the production of chemicals that influence feelings of hunger and cravings; your body also uses it to produce serotonin, an important brain chemical that influences our moods, feelings and behaviors. This vitamin is also necessary to aid your body in absorbing other nutrients important for maintaining a healthy weight such as calcium, low levels of which can increase the production of a substance that causes your body to convert calories to fat. With vitamin D being involved in so many processes that affect weight, it is easy to see how low levels could be a significant factor in obesity.
Several studies have linked low vitamin D levels with weight gain and a recent larger-scale study confirmed these previous findings. A study that appeared in the June 2012 issue of Journal of Women’s Health found that women with low levels of vitamin D in their body gained more weight over a period of five years compared to participants with normal levels of the vitamin. The data for the 4,600 women studied was pulled from a larger osteoporosis study that began in the late 80’s. 78 percent of the women had low vitamin D levels. 571 women in the group gained weight in the five-year window being observed, and the women with vitamin D deficiency gained more than the women with normal levels. The weight gain was not extreme, on average it was only 2 pounds more than the women with normal levels who gained weight, but this can add up over the years.
Getting Sufficient Vitamin D
Your body can synthesize most of the vitamin D it needs with sunlight, and since the sun is everywhere you would think that it would be easy to get enough, but it is actually problematic for many people as evidenced by the high numbers thought to be deficient in the vitamin. If you live in certain areas, you may not get sufficient amounts of sunlight to produce all your body need. If you are only exposed to early morning and late afternoon sun most of the time– as is the case for many people who work inside an office all day with a 9-5 type job–, the rays are too weak to make sufficient amounts. Other factors can also stand in the way, such as the application of sunscreen and air pollution reducing the strength of the rays. Eating more foods rich in vitamin D can help, but the best route for most people will be supplementation.
Before you start popping vitamin D pills, however, you should get your levels tested because even if there is a good chance you will be deficient, you want to find out by how much so you can take a proper dose to correct the problem. It is important to consult with a health care provider because while vitamin D is a generally safe supplement, it is fat-soluble meaning it can build up in the body to potentially dangerous levels if you take too much for too long. If you have certain health conditions or take certain medications, it may not be appropriate or you may need extra special monitoring.
Everyone is always looking for the best program to lose weight, and while a sound eating plan and a solid exercise regimen are important, research is starting to uncover that a lot more may be at play deeper in the body when it comes to our weight, such as how much sleep you get and deficiencies of certain nutrients in the body. Current research definitely suggests that low levels of vitamin D may be a culprit in weight gain or trouble losing weight, but like anything else concerning your body, there are numerous complex processes at play, and simply taking more vitamin D will not be the answer to your problems; but if you have low levels, making sure you get them to where they need to be will help you achieve optimal health. Your weight is influenced by a number of factors and you need to take a multi-pronged approach that addresses all of them, such as sufficient physical activity, eating right and getting enough sleep. Vitamin D levels are just one piece of the puzzle, perhaps a very important piece, though.
Kelli Cooper has spent the last several years writing on a variety of topics, but specializes in health and wellness content. If you are interested in a diet program that provides food, check out the ediets review. Besides regularly contributing to Medical Daily, she has contributed to numerous blogs that provide information on weight loss and related topics. Besides her passion for health, Kelli is also interested in personal development and her number one hobby is self-improvement.