Does Vitamin D Help With Weight Loss?

Vitamin D has been getting a lot of buzzes lately. The Cleveland Clinic reports that too little vitamin D may adversely affect your mood (which might already be low due to these uncertain times). 

According to a study published in May 2020 in the Irish Medical Journal, researchers are studying whether vitamin D can prevent or manage COVID-19.

There are numerous health reasons to spend time outside this summer and get your vitamin D levels up, but could weight loss also be an incentive?

Although more research is needed, early results are promising. Here’s what you should know before taking a supplement to lose weight.

What is Vitamin D?

The fat-soluble vitamin D is actually not a vitamin (which must be consumed through diet) but a hormone (which is produced in the body). The active form is called 1,25 dihydroxycholecalciferol. Your body produces it after absorbing the sun’s rays. 

I recommend getting sun exposure for ten to fifteen minutes, at least three times a week if you are depending on the sun for your vitamin D. 

You can also get vitamin D from food, albeit in smaller doses. Vitamin D3 comes from red meat and fish; vitamin D2 comes from plants. In these forms, vitamin D must be metabolized in the body in order to be used by the body, and boron may be needed for the conversion. 

Vitamin-D receptors are located in your bones, pancreas, intestine, kidneys, brain, spinal cord, reproductive organs, thymus, adrenal glands, pituitary gland, and thyroid gland.

Does Vitamin D Help You Lose Weight?

According to a new study, taking a vitamin D supplement may help obese Americans lose weight if they are low on the nutrient.

Prior research led by Luisella Vigna of the University of Milan has demonstrated that vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of obesity and obesity-related complications.

However, research on the use of vitamin D supplements to combat obesity has been inconclusive so far, the team said.

Researchers divided 400 overweight and obese participants into three groups based on their vitamin D status and put them on low-calorie diets to preserve their vitamin D. Among the other two groups, one took no vitamin D supplements, and the other took either 25,000 or 100,000 IU.

Participants in both vitamin D supplementation groups had lost more weight and had a smaller waistline after six months than those who did not take the supplements, Vigna’s team found.

Researchers were scheduled to present their study Thursday at the European Congress on Obesity. Medical meetings typically present preliminary results until they have been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

As Vigna’s team reported, “the present data suggest that vitamin D supplementation aids weight loss and enhances the benefits of a reduced-calorie diet in obese and overweight people who are deficient in vitamin D.” 

The researchers recommended checking the vitamin D levels of overweight and obese individuals.

In other studies, vitamin D has also been shown to enhance weight loss and decrease body fat.

An adequate blood level of 20 ng/mL (50 nmol/L) is considered to be beneficial for strong bones and overall health.

The study examined 218 overweight and obese women over a one-year period. The participants followed calorie-restricted diets and exercise regimens. Vitamin D supplements were given to half the women, while placebos were given to the other half.

Women who had adequate levels of vitamin D at the end of the study experienced a greater weight loss, losing an average of 7 pounds (3.2 kg) more than those who did not.

For another study, vitamin D supplements were given to overweight and obese women for 12 weeks. Researchers found that increasing vitamin D levels did decrease body fat in the women, but they didn’t experience any weight loss.

Vitamin D may also help to prevent weight gain.

A study of more than 4,600 elderly women found that higher levels of vitamin D were linked to less weight gain between visits over a 4.5-year period.

Shortly, vitamin D may promote weight loss, although more research is needed before we can draw any firm conclusions.

I have also reviewed a lot of other weight loss supplements, if you are interested, you might check them out.

How Does Vitamin D Promote Weight Loss?

The effects of vitamin D on weight loss have been explained by various theories.

Vitamin D may be able to slow down the formation of new fat cells in the body. 

Additionally, it reduces fat accumulation by inhibiting the storage of fat cells. 

Vitamin D can also increase serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that influences mood and sleep. Apart from controlling your appetite, serotonin may reduce weight and reduce calorie intake, as well as increase satiety.

Lastly, higher levels of vitamin D may trigger weight loss by raising testosterone levels.

One study in 2011 gave vitamin D supplements or a placebo to 165 men for a year. There was a greater increase in testosterone levels among those receiving the supplements as compared to the control group. 

Higher levels of testosterone have been shown to reduce body fat and aid in long-term weight loss in several studies.

As a result, your body burns more calories after eating thanks to the boost in metabolism. This also prevents the body from storing fat.

Benefits of Vitamin D

The primary benefit of Vitamin D is that it helps and aids the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in our bones. Also, recent research has proven that it helps protect us against the increased risk of Type 1 diabetes.

Vitamin D is also found to be helpful in lowering blood pressure levels in patients. Various studies have even revealed that proper levels of Vitamin D have lowered the risk of developing cancer.

Additionally, it has been reported that tuberculosis was rapidly cured after TB patients were administered a high dosage of Vitamin D. Conversely, low levels of Vitamin D may trigger heart attacks and early death.

Vitamin D is important to a lot of body functions, including

  • Aids in the absorption of calcium from the intestinal tract
  • Helps the body assimilate phosphorus
  • Helps the pancreas release insulin
  • Necessary for blood clotting
  • Necessary for growth and development of bones and teeth
  • Necessary for thyroid function
  • Stimulates bone cell mineralization

Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

The effects of Vitamin D deficiency can range from minor bone problems to major diseases like rickets. If you are suffering from muscle weakness or aching bones, it may be due to the lack of Vitamin D. Poor levels of Vitamin D can lead to multiple health risks, although the symptoms might not be obvious.

Lack of Vitamin D may lead to Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, glucose intolerance, asthma in children and even cancer.

The most common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include:

  • Bone disorders (rickets in children or osteomalacia in adults)
  • Decreased calcium levels
  • Decreased phosphate levels
  • Increased risk of osteoporosis
  • Muscle spasms

There might be several causes for poor levels of Vitamin D in your body. For instance, if you have limited exposure to sunlight, or if you have darker skin, then the pigment melanin present in your skin may reduce the skin’s ability to create Vitamin D. 

Kidneys, as well, maybe affected by inadequate Vitamin D, especially in older age individuals who may be less able than younger people to convert Vitamin D to its usable form efficiently. 

Certain diseases like cystic fibrosis and celiac disease can lower the ability of the intestine to absorb Vitamin D from the food intake.

Crohn’s disease, or inflammation of the intestines, is also due to Vitamin D deficiency, which often causes infection in the mouth as well in the intestines.

Since Vitamin D affects metabolism, its deficiency may lead to depression and make you immune to emotions, as it numbs the nervous system.

Vitamin D deficiency also leads to diabetes. When you suffer from high blood sugar levels, your sugar intake needs to be in control. However, the deficiency of Vitamin D and consequently reduced metabolism can create a constant urge to gorge on sugary or starchy foods. 

Other diseases that are a result of Vitamin D deficiency are fatty liver, high blood pressure, anxiety, multiple sclerosis and osteopenia. Lack of Vitamin D leads to fatigue, and also it can affect an embryo as well as the bones.

Could Vitamin D Deficiency Cause Weight Gain?

Vitamin D influences so many aspects of your health, a vitamin D deficiency could contribute to other factors that influence your weight.

Mental illness is linked to vitamin D deficiency, for instance. Vitamin D deficiency and depression were significantly linked in a review published in 2017 in the journal Neuropsychiatry.

Being overweight is also associated with having a low mood. The Journal of Preventive Medicine & Public Health published a review of research published in July 2017 that associated having a higher body mass index (BMI) with experiencing more days of depression.

Maintaining energy and mood may be helped by vitamin D. It has been found that those with low energy or low mood often have low vitamin D levels, so it is not necessarily a cause-and-effect relationship.

Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to other factors, like poor sleep. Researchers note, however, that more high-quality research is still needed to verify the association, as shown by a study published in October 2018 in the journal Nutrients.

Weight gain has been linked to a lack of sleep. Mayo Clinic reports that sleep quality (and lack thereof) can affect hormones that regulate hunger, including ghrelin and leptin. Another contributing factor might be that a lack of sleep makes you tired, leading to a lack of physical activity.

It is obvious that vitamin D supports other parts of health that might affect weight, but more research is needed to determine the cause-and-effect relationship between them.

How To Use Vitamin D Supplement?

Vitamin D is recommended for adults 19 to 70 years old to consume at least 600 IU (15 mcg) a day.

Vitamin D supplementation, however, may not be a one-size-fits-all approach, as some research suggests that dosage should be determined by body weight.

Researchers calculated that maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D requires 32-36 IU per pound (70-80 IU/kg) when adjusted for body size.

This amount may be significantly higher than 4,000 IU per day, depending on your body weight.

There have been reports of doses up to 10,000 IU per day with no adverse effects.

Even so, vitamin D supplements can be toxic in large quantities. Before exceeding the upper limit of 4,000 IU per day, it is best to consult your doctor.

To get enough vitamin D from the sun’s rays, you should expose your face and arms for ten to fifteen minutes, at least three times a week without sunscreen.

The use of sunscreen significantly decreases the absorption of vitamin D into the skin. If you are very fair and need to wear sunscreen, then you may need to intake more vitamin D. The preferred form of vitamin D with which to supplement is D3.

Vitamin D Supplement Side Effects

When taken in recommended amounts, vitamin D is likely to be safe. In most cases, vitamin D does not cause side effects unless it is taken in excess. In addition to weakness, dry mouth, nausea, and vomiting, too much vitamin D can cause side effects. 

Overdosing on vitamin D for long periods of time in doses greater than 4000 IU (100 mcg) daily is possibly unsafe and may result in excessive calcium levels in the blood.

Children age 9 years and older, adults, and pregnant or breastfeeding women who take more than 4,000 IU daily of vitamin D might experience:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Heart rhythm problems
  • Poor appetite and weight loss
  • Kidney stones and kidney damage
  • Constipation
  • Weakness

Vitamin D is stored in the body and can become toxic for some people. At the same time, other people need much higher dosages. Consequently, for dosages above 1,000 international units a day, it is best to consult with your healthcare practitioner. It is necessary to take calcium when taking vitamin D.

Vitamin D Supplement Alternative: Food Source

The best thing about Vitamin D is that it is freely available in abundance in the form of sunlight. 20 to 25 minutes of exposure to direct sunlight a day can help you achieve your daily requirement of Vitamin D.

Some foods can also provide us with Vitamin D; certain fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna and eel are good sources of Vitamin D.

Fortified orange juices contain Vitamin D. But you need to take a good look at the labels while buying since not all orange juices are fortified. Florida Natural Orange Juice and Minute Maid Kids+ are two fortified brands that are currently available.

Fortified cow’s milk is found to have adequate amounts of Vitamin D, and fortified cereals are also found to be a rich source. However, since not all brands of milk and cereals are fortified, you need to check out the details of the brand prior to buying it.

Eggs are also a good source of Vitamin D; it is also supposed to be found in certain kinds of mushrooms, Shiitake mushrooms, for one. Ricotta cheese has a relatively high content of Vitamin D—about 5 times more than that of other regular cheeses. 

Cod liver oil is another Vitamin D supplement that is usually available in mint flavoured capsule form.

Final Words: Should You Take Vitamin D Supplement?

It might be worthwhile to get your vitamin D level tested by a doctor if you are overweight or obese, even if researchers are still trying to figure out the strength of the vitamin D and weight loss link. 

For the health of your bones and muscles, you might be advised to bring your level into the healthy range if you’re deficient. In the process, you might even lose weight. 

Remember that vitamin D supplements sold at a drugstore are not FDA-approved before they are marketed. To make sure you’re getting quality supplements, check with the manufacturer for information about how their claims are supported.

Leave a Comment