Can Vitamin D Help You Lose Weight?
For years, I’ve been warning about the dangers of having low levels of vitamin D—to the point that I received lots of feedback from physicians and the lay public warning me of the dangers of overdosing on this vitamin. Finally, more and more research has revealed that most people do get far too little vitamin D, and the recommended daily recommendations have increased…dramatically!
But while we’re finally getting the dose right, few physicians are telling their patients exactly why vitamin D is important. Most people know vitamin D is important for bone and health, as well as immune health. But few people realize there’s a connection between vitamin D deficiencies, obesity, and diabetes.
Could Vitamin D Be the ‘Missing Link’ for Weight Loss?
The research certainly suggests that there’s a connection between vitamin D and your weight. When your vitamin D levels are low, your body produces and excretes less of the hormone leptin. Leptin is the primary hormone that helps to suppress your appetite so you don’t overeat. It’s also involved in fat storage.
Millions of dollars are now being spent on trying to duplicate these effects by artificially increasing levels of leptin in the body or turning it into a weight-loss drug. But the simple answer, of course, is to ensure you’re producing and/or receiving adequate amounts of vitamin D.
Obviously, this information is still being researched and analyzed, but based on what we know about vitamin D and leptin levels I’m more than convinced that upping your vitamin D levels can only help. But weight loss is only part of the picture…
The Vitamin D–Diabetes Connection
A short while back, researchers in London reported that vitamin D is essential for the islet cells in the pancreas to be able to secrete insulin properly to help stabilize blood sugar levels. Their studies have shown that individuals with the lowest vitamin D levels experienced the worst blood sugar-handling problems and had a greater risk of developing diabetes.
They also found that those with the greatest risk of developing a vitamin D deficiency included the elderly who were either institutionalized or stayed indoors, those living in climates where sunlight is scarce several months a year, and those with indoor sedentary jobs.
In an effort to eliminate the widespread vitamin D deficiencies in the institutionalized elderly, over 80% of those individuals are now being given vitamin D3 supplements. The dosage being used is 800 IU each day.
So what’s the bottom line?
Keep Loading Up on Vitamin D3
Vitamin D is what my dad would call “cheap insurance.” Ideally, our bodies would be producing adequate amounts of the vitamin through exposure to sunlight. When sunlight hits our skin, cholesterol is converted into vitamin D. Unfortunately, that’s not happening as much as it should anymore.
Plus, the drop in vitamin D levels only worsens as we get older. We tend to become more “house-bound” and avoid sun exposure. Plus, our skin gets thinner and less efficient at converting cholesterol to vitamin D. When you step back and look at what’s happening in our society, it’s really not that difficult to see the potential connection between the rise in obesity and diabetes in our country and our deficit of vitamin D.
I recommend taking 2,000 to 5,000 IU a day of the D3 and increasing that amount to 1,000 IU per day per pound of body weight in the event you fall ill. The D3 form of vitamin D is very important. Many supplements give you vitamin D2, but the form your body manufactures from the sun is D3. It’s your body’s preferred form, and the one it uses most efficiently.
I also recommend getting out in the sunshine for about 20 minutes a day, without sunscreen in order to boost your body’s production of vitamin D. If you get that sun exposure in the form of a brisk walk, you’ll be helping to lose weight and prevent diabetes in more ways than one.
Until next time,
Dr. David Williams
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