As an essential micronutrient, vitamin D does not stop surprising with each new study that gives it more and more benefits. Among the benefits of this vitamin include several, such as helping us to avoid depression, encourage hair growth or improve our immune system. But these are not all, of course.
Recently, a large number of people have started using vitamin D as part of weight loss treatment: the premise is that this vitamin plays an important role in the way our body absorbs and discards calories and body fat.
To discover if these benefits are true, it is best to review what we know about vitamin D and what medical studies have said about it when it comes to losing weight.
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a type of fat-soluble vitamin, which we can obtain from certain foods, but also through supplements or sun exposure.
We usually associate vitamin D with bone functions, due to the fact that its consumption helps bones and teeth absorb better the calcium we consume. But its functions go much further, playing an important role in moods, hair growth, sleep habits and other aspects.
Unfortunately this vitamin is not present in many foods, which is why vitamin D deficiency often affects many people around the world, these groups being the most affected:
- Older adults.
- Lactating babies
- People with dark skin tone.
- People with little sun exposure.
A group that is also usually deficient in vitamin D is that of obese people. Interestingly, many studies point out that the cause-effect relationship in this case also works the other way around; that is, that increasing vitamin D consumption reduces obesity.
Why do overweight people tend to have less vitamin D?
Many studies have pointed to different reasons to explain why people who are overweight tend to have less vitamin D. Some suggest that obese people tend to consume less vitamin D-based foods in their total daily intake than those who consume other people; others think that these people are usually less involved in activities that expose them to the sun. It is also believed that obese people have fewer enzymes capable of making vitamin D enter its active phase, although none of these ideas is conclusive.
What does seem to be clear is that it is difficult to have correct levels of vitamin D in the body when you have greater body mass.
Something curious in this sense is that, when an obese person loses weight, their vitamin D levels remain the same or even increase slightly. This seems a little contradictory, because the logic would point out that when losing mass the body would require less vitamin D to function and it would be reduced, but it has been discovered that it does not work that way.
So, although it is not well known why overweight people have less vitamin D , there is evidence that adding more vitamin D to a person’s intake can help you lose weight.
How can vitamin D help you lose weight?
Several studies have presented evidence that vitamin D helps lose weight and reduce the percentage of body fat. One of these took 218 overweight women, who were given a diet and exercise plan for a year. Half of them were also given vitamin D supplements; to the other half, a placebo. At the end of the study, women with vitamin D supplements had lost, on average, 3.2 kg more than women who took the placebo.
Another study also followed the cases of overweight women, who were given vitamin D supplements for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, none of them lost weight significantly, but their percentage of body fat had decreased. Several studies have shown similar results.
Many theories have been formulated to explain these phenomena, and despite there being nothing definitive, research suggests that vitamin D is able to prevent fat cells from reproducing and storing in the body with ease.
On the other hand, it is known that vitamin D helps increase the levels of serotonin and testosterone, two substances that are linked with appetite control and weight loss, respectively, something that could also be a reason why the vitamin D helps you lose weight.
How much vitamin D should be consumed?
The amount of vitamin D that should be consumed varies from person to person. However, some minimum requirements that must be met have been noted.
In general, an adult between 19 and 70 years of age should consume at least 600 IU (15 mcg) per day of vitamin D. Other studies have concluded that the calculation should be made from person to person, indicating that it should be consumed between 70-80 IU per kilogram of body weight daily.
Whatever the amount of vitamin D consumed by each person, the most important thing is to remember its importance, assuming that you should never abandon your consumption and that this should be accompanied by constant physical activity and moderate exposure to the sun. In this way, maintaining an adequate weight and a stable health will be more than assured.