Most people are familiar with vitamin D’s role in preventing rickets in children and in helping the body absorb calcium from the diet.
Recently, research has shown that vitamin D is important in protecting the body from a much wider range of diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and multiple sclerosis.
Vitamin D is actually a prohormone and not technically a vitamin: a vitamin is defined as a substance that is not made naturally by the body but must be supplied in the diet to maintain life processes.
Our bodies make most of our vitamin D by the action of ultraviolet light (sunlight) on our skin. We only get very small amounts of vitamin D from our diet.
A major cause of deficiency is not getting enough sun. This is very common in northern climates where people don’t spend much time outdoors. The use of sunscreen also blocks the beneficial action of the sun’s rays on skin.
We’ve known for a few years that vitamin D and weight are linked, but the debate has been how. People who are overweight or obese tend to have low vitamin D levels.
But what came first? The obesity or the vitamin D loss?
A study from the University of Minnesota measured vitamin D levels in 38 men and women before putting them on a low calorie diet. The results showed the higher the pre-diet vitamin D levels, the greater the weight loss, particularly weight around the middle. This kind of weight is notoriously hard to lose and is associated with insulin resistance.
Other researchers theorize that vitamin D deficiency contributes to insulin resistance, one of the primary causes of weight gain.
Taking a vitamin D supplement without changing your eating habits will not magically make the fat melt away. A 2008 study done in Norway gave vitamin D or a placebo (sugar pill) to 334 overweight people and found no significant weight loss difference in the vitamin D group at the end of 12 months.
However, keeping your vitamin D levels in an optimal range (50-70 ng/mL) can make your weight loss efforts more effective. Be aware that a level of 30 ng/mL is considered “adequate” on lab tests. Adequate does not equal optimal!
It’s important to know your level before starting supplementation as it is possible to overdo Vitamin D dosing. A general rule of thumb for supplementation is that it takes 1000 units to raise your level by 10 ng/mL.
If you’d like to know more about this, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The weight control hormone testing package I offer includes 15 tests… one of which is a vitamin D level. It’s everything we need to map your hormone balance!
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