Over the years, scientists have found that low vitamin D levels may negatively affect a number health of areas such as bone strength, the immune system, and cellular health. Now research shows that low vitamin D may also affect body weight.
Low D May Add More Weight
A recent study conducted on over 4,600 women aged 65 and older found that women with lower vitamin D levels were more prone to gain weight. Of the 571 women who gained weight, the scientists observed that women who already had low vitamin D levels going into the study and failed to address their low D levels gained an average of two pounds over five years. The study was published in the June 2012 edition of the Journal of Women’s Health. It echoes the results of a previous study, which found that a combination of vitamin D and calcium supplementation slowed down weight gain.
While researchers aren’t clear yet how vitamin D directly affects weight management, it may have to do with the fact that vitamin D is a prohormone that helps regulate other types of cells. Certain immune cells, for example, need vitamin D to activate them so that they can perform their duties, which is why vitamin D is important to immunity. Similarly, fat cells also have vitamin D receptors, so in women with low vitamin D levels, their fat cells may continue to grow unregulated if there isn’t enough vitamin D to signal the fat cells to “stop.”
How Can You Get More Vitamin D?
Before you think of dosing up on vitamin D to shed pounds, keep in mind that the studies only indicate that low vitamin D makes people more prone to weight gain; taking more won’t help you lose it. That said, however, given how important vitamin D is to your overall health, it can’t hurt to get more of it in your diet. Vitamin D is often called the “sunshine vitamin” because your skin is able to produce it the moment you are exposed to sunlight. Despite this, many people still aren’t getting the recommended daily intake of vitamin D. The Institute of Medicine currently recommends a dosage of 600 IU daily for people aged 1–70. But with more people working in office environments and leading sedentary, indoor lifestyles, higher dosages may be more beneficial. Fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel), beef liver, cheese, and egg yolk are all natural food sources of vitamin D, but they contain very small amounts. That’s why supplements with higher dosages can be a better option to getting the optimal levels you need for good health. As stated earlier, however, increasing your vitamin D levels isn’t a magic bullet to end your weight management worries, so follow it up with healthy diet and exercise habits, too.
- Martin, D. “Calcium/Vitamin D Slows Weight Gain.” WebMD Health News. May 2007. https://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20070514/calcium-vitamin-d-slows-weight-gain..
- DeNoon, DJ. “Low Vitamin D Linked to Weight Gain in Older Women.” WebMD Health News. Jun 2012. https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/news/20120625/low-vitamin-d-linked-to-weight-gain-in-older-women.
- “Vitamin D crucial to activating immune defenses.” Mar 2010. https://news.ku.dk/all_news/2010/2010.3/d_vitamin/.