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Home arrow Nutrition arrow Vitamin D and Weight Loss: Get the Sunshine Advantage

Vitamin D and Weight Loss: Get the Sunshine Advantage

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Fact checked by Edibel Quintero, RD
Last update: November 17, 2023
6 min read 358 Views 0 Comments
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vitamin d weight loss

Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, is capturing the spotlight in health circles – and for good reason. More than just a bone health booster, it enhances your immune system and mood, and might even prevent cancer. Despite this, about 1 billion people globally lack enough vitamin D due to limited sunlight and low vitamin D diets.

Yet there’s a twist: could vitamin D also help you lose weight? Intrigued? Join us as we examine how a vitamin D deficiency might affect you and if it could help you lose weight. Get ready for some eye-opening insights!

Vitamin D for Weight Loss: Is It the Key to Your Success?

The amount of vitamin D in your body could affect how it metabolizes fat and manages your weight. But remember, for lasting weight loss, it’s important to pair vitamin D supplements with a balanced diet and consistent exercise.

Having adequate levels of vitamin D in your body may influence fat storage and burning. While it’s not a direct fat burner, sufficient vitamin D can support processes that might help in managing body weight, like feeling fuller for longer and controlling appetite. 

On the flip side, not having enough vitamin D can lead to hormonal imbalances, like increased parathyroid hormone levels, which might contribute to your body storing more fat. It’s important to remember that vitamin D’s role in weight management is part of a larger picture and not a standalone solution.

Furthermore, vitamin D enhances the production of the serotonin hormone, which boosts your mood and reduces anxiety and depression. 

Understanding Vitamin D: Sources, Role, and Intake

Sun exposure is the primary source of natural vitamin D. When your skin is exposed to direct sunlight, the ultraviolet B rays (UVB) activate a chemical reaction in your skin, leading to the production of vitamin D. 

However, we can no longer rely on the skin to form enough vitamin D since factors such as the season, time of day, use of sunscreen, and the time you spend outdoors determine how much vitamin D your skin will make. Furthermore, people with darker pigmentation, those who work night shifts, and those in geographical locations with limited sun exposure may have low natural production.

The best dietary sources of the sunshine vitamin are fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, tuna, and mackerel. Other vitamin D-rich foods include egg yolk, mushrooms, and beef liver. Fortified foods such as dairy products, drinks, and cereal also provide vitamin D, but you need to check food labels to confirm the amounts.

The role of Vitamin D in the body 

#1 Supports healthy bones and teeth

Vitamin D plays a key role in calcium absorption, which is essential for bone mineralization. Without it, the body is not able to absorb calcium and phosphorus. This causes the body to mobilize the breakdown of your bones to provide adequate blood calcium required for key body functions. As a result, it causes weak bones and increases your risk of fractures.

A Meta analysis of several random controlled trials reveals that vitamin D supplementation (800-1000 IU per day) reduced the risk of falls and osteoporotic fractures.

#2 May reduce the risk of cancer

Vitamin D regulates cell growth and is shown to prevent cancer. The vitamin limits the cell division and growth of cancer cells and facilitates an increase in the death of cancer cells.

People with high vitamin D levels have lower rates of colorectal, prostate, pancreatic, and colon cancers. However, more research needs to be done on whether vitamin D supplementation can reduce the risk of cancer.

#3 Supports immune health

Vitamin D reduces your risk of infections from bacteria and viruses because it interacts directly with almost all cells of the immune system. Studies reveal that daily or weekly vitamin D supplementation reduces your risk of acute respiratory tract infections and autoimmune diseases.

Recommended daily intake

The amount of vitamin you need depends on your age and vitamin D status. People with low vitamin D status of below 20 ng ml are considered deficient.

The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is:

  • Birth to 12 months: 10 mcg (400 IU);
  • Children 1–13 years: 15 mcg (600 IU);
  • Teens 14–18 years: 15 mcg (600 IU);
  • Adults 19–70 years: 15 mcg (600 IU);
  • Adults 71 years and older: 20 mcg (800 IU);
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding teens and women: 15 mcg (600 IU).

Avoid taking too much vitamin D supplementation since an overdose may be harmful and may increase the risk of kidney stones, constipation, and heart rhythm problems. It is recommended to consult with your doctor before starting any new supplement.

Vitamin D Deficiency and Weight Gain

People with a higher body mass index (BMI) tend to have low vitamin D levels. A possible explanation is that overweight or obese people may be less active outdoors and tend to expose less skin which may limit how much vitamin D the body will produce and predispose them to deficiency.

People with a BMI of 30 and above tend to have lower Vitamin D levels because it accumulates in the adipose tissue and is not available for use by the body. Therefore, overweight and obese people may need higher doses of vitamin D supplementation than those with normal BMI to meet the requirements.

Another explanation could be their inadequate dietary intake of vitamin D due to poor food choices. However, there needs more research to substantiate this claim.

While the deficiency of Vitamin D does not directly cause an increase in body weight, it may cause side effects such as fatigue, and depression and interfere with fat metabolism, which may cause weight gain. 

Optimizing Vitamin D Intake for Weight Loss

Sunlight exposure is necessary for optimizing vitamin D production. However, excess exposure to UV rays can cause premature skin aging, wrinkles, and cell damage that may cause skin cancer. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen to areas of your skin that are exposed, like your face, hands, and legs.

The best foods to boost vitamin D levels include salmon, mackerel, tuna, and egg yolk. Foods fortified with vitamin D, such as yogurt, milk, orange juice, or cereals, may provide limited amounts of this sunshine vitamin.

However, you may need to take supplements if you are at risk of deficiency or have limited sun exposure. Vitamin D supplements are available in two forms: vitamin D2, made from plant sources, and vitamin D3, from animal sources. You can access Vitamin D3 over the counter, but check with your health care provider for the correct dosage.  

The best way to get the benefits of vitamin D for weight loss is to get enough through diet sources alongside sun exposure every day.

Expert image border HR_author_photo_Edibel
A Word from Our RD
Medical advisor for Health Reporter

Many of us don’t get enough vitamin D. Why?

Factors like not enough sun exposure, diets low in Vitamin D-rich foods, and certain health conditions can hinder our body’s ability to absorb it properly.

The purpose of taking a vitamin D supplement is to fill this gap, ensuring our body gets enough to help with calcium absorption, bolster immune health, and support other key health benefits. But it’s crucial to understand that vitamin D supplements aren’t a one-stop solution for weight loss.

For effective and sustainable weight loss, a holistic approach is key. This means regular exercise, a balanced diet with foods rich in vitamin D like fatty fish, egg yolks, fortified cereals, milk, and juices, and keeping an eye on your calorie intake.

FAQ

What are the best sources of vitamin D for weight loss?

To boost your Vitamin D levels effectively, try to get enough sunlight and include Vitamin D-rich foods in your diet, like fatty fish, fortified milk, and cereals. If you’re in a place with little sun, consider supplementing, but always consult your healthcare provider for guidance.

Are there any side effects of using vitamin D for weight loss?

Taking vitamin D in large doses may lead to constipation, stomach cramps, diarrhea, or, in worse cases, kidney stones. Avoid taking more than 4,000 IU per day to prevent toxicity.

Is it safe to take vitamin D for weight loss?

Vitamin D supplementation is considered safe for people who do not get adequate sunlight exposure or those who don’t eat eggs, meat, or fish or follow a vegan diet as long as they do not exceed the recommended amounts. Avoid taking supplementation for long periods without the advice of your doctor.

Conclusion

Vitamin D may help you lose weight by regulating fat metabolism, suppressing your appetite, or through hormonal balance. However, a Vitamin D supplement may work best when combined with a healthy diet and regular physical activity to help burn more calories.

Consider getting your vitamin D levels checked if you get frequent infections, are obese or overweight, have dark pigmentation, work indoors most of the time, and live in geographical locations with limited sunlight.

Before you start using Vitamin D for weight loss, consult your doctor first to evaluate the right dosage.

Beatrice Wairimu, RD
Beatrice is a registered dietician with vast experience in health and wellness. She specializes in writing for the health and fitness industry. When she is not writing, Beatrice coaches women on healthy eating, exercise, and mental wellness. Her goal is to educate people on healthy living through writing, health promotion, and coaching.
The article was fact checked by Edibel Quintero, RD
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HR_author_photo_Edibel
Fact checked by Edibel Quintero, RD
Last update: November 17, 2023
6 min read 358 Views 0 Comments
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