Vitamin D and Weight Loss
DISCLAIMER: This article has been written for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
The consumption of unhealthy foods is at an all-time high. Some people have strict schedules and don’t get time to cook for themselves and often thrive on canned foods or junk fast food from restaurants. Food lovers also like to dine out more often and end up eating unhealthy foods.
These not-so-healthy eating habits and inactive lifestyle lead to weight gain. Being overweight or obese can put you at the risk of many diseases and also take a toll on your confidence and self-esteem.
Eating healthy food along with an active lifestyle can definitely help you lose weight but if you incorporate vitamin D into your daily routine it will accelerate your weight loss journey.
Below is a detailed description of the connection between vitamin D and weight loss and how it can help you lose weight.
Vitamin D is one of the fat-soluble vitamins that play a key role in the optimum functioning of your body. It keeps your bones strong, enhances immune system activity and absorbs minerals like calcium and phosphorus. It can also affect your mood and help you fight certain diseases. Apart from all these benefits vitamin D also promotes weight loss and can help you stay in shape.
The major source of vitamin D is sunlight. It is recommended that you spend at least 5 to 30 minutes in the sunlight daily to obtain the vitamin D required by your body.
The food sources of vitamin D include:
- Cod liver oil
- Fortified cereals
CONNECTION BETWEEN VITAMIN D AND OBESITY
People who are overweight or obese usually have low levels of vitamin D in their body. The reason is that obese and overweight people often have a sedentary lifestyle and they usually do not go out in sunlight. Sometimes overweight people also face social anxiety and wear clothes that cover their full body. As their body parts are not exposed properly, they do not absorb an adequate amount of vitamin D through sunlight.
Vitamin D also affects your mood and sleep. These two factors can indirectly influence your weight. When your vitamin D levels are low and you experience symptoms of depression then you’re more likely to indulge in stress eating. Lack of sleep interferes with your hormones and promotes weight loss.
In a nutshell, overweight and obese people have low levels of vitamin D, and increasing your uptake of vitamin D can help you lose weight.
HOW VITAMIN D CAN HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT?
Vitamin D can help regulate belly fat and improve lean muscle mass. Below is a detailed explanation of how vitamin D helps you lose weight and stay fit.
VITAMIN D CAN REGULATE BELLY FAT
Vitamin D acts as an environmental sensor for your body. When vitamin D levels are low it signals your body to store extra energy. This excess energy is stored in the form of fat around the waistline.
When you have adequate levels of vitamin D in your blood it prevents adipogenesis i.e. the formation of fat cells within the body. It also reduces the accumulation of excess belly fat and helps you lose weight.
Combining diet and exercise with vitamin D supplements can further speed up your weight loss journey and help you achieve your goals in no time.
VITAMIN D IMPROVES LEAN MUSCLE MASS
Low levels of vitamin D affect your mood negatively and you often feel fatigued. When you take vitamin D supplements your energy level improves and you lose more calories during a workout than you were losing before starting vitamin D supplementation.
Vitamin D helps repair tissue damage in your muscles and enables you to build lean muscle mass and decrease body fat.
Vitamin D is essential for the conversion of amino acid tryptophan into the neurotransmitter serotonin. When you intake a sufficient amount of vitamin D then your body has optimal levels of serotonin. As a result, it elevates your mood, reduces the feeling of uncontrollable hunger, and promotes the feeling of fullness after meals.
Vitamin D also reduces the levels of cortisol which is also known as the stress hormone. When cortisol levels are low it prevents the storage of fat around the belly.
In men, vitamin D may elevate testosterone levels which can aid in weight loss.
Vitamin D also improves sleep quality and prevents weight gain related to sleep deprivation.
VITAMIN D CAN HELP MAINTAIN WEIGHT AFTER BARIATRIC SURGERY
Gastric bypass surgery or bariatric surgery removes a portion of the stomach to assist weight loss. However, this procedure may affect the body’s ability to absorb vitamin D from food. Lack of vitamin D can hamper the long-term benefits of this procedure. For that reason, it is advised that you take vitamin D supplements to avoid the effects of vitamin D deficiency.
OTHER FUNCTIONS OF VITAMIN D
Apart from promoting weight loss vitamin D have several other functions including:
- Bone health – Vitamin D maintains sufficient levels of calcium and phosphorus in your blood. This promotes bone mineralization and ensures that your bones are strong and healthy.
- Immune function – Vitamin D makes your immune system stronger and prevents autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
- Antioxidant and inflammatory properties – Vitamin D can help reduce signs and symptoms of inflammation and fight oxidative stress. With its ability to battle free radicals it may prevent the occurrence of different types of cancer.
- Mental health – Vitamin D is also necessary for your mental health. Low levels of vitamin D are associated with depression. Taking an adequate amount of vitamin D can elevate your mood and increase your energy levels.
SIDE EFFECTS OF VITAMIN D
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin D is 25 to 100 micrograms. Vitamin D is considered safe to use within these recommended limits but if you consume too much vitamin D for a longer duration then the following side effects can be observed:
- Decreased appetite
- Muscle weakness
- Kidney stones and kidney failure
- Irregular heartbeat
Vitamin D is safe to use and provides many benefits to your body. However, in some conditions, it can also harm you. Vitamin D can make atherosclerosis worse, especially in the case of kidney diseases. It can also increase calcium levels to an unwanted extent and cause kidney stones. This effect is more pronounced in the patients of tuberculosis, histoplasmosis, sarcoidosis and lymphoma.
Hence, it is recommended to consult your doctor before starting vitamin D supplementation if you have any of the above health concerns and use vitamin D with great care.
INTERACTIONS OF VITAMIN D WITH THERAPEUTIC DRUGS
Vitamin D can interact with different medications and might alter their therapeutic effects. These interactions of vitamin D can also increase the side effects of drugs. Hence, always discuss your ongoing medications with a physician before including vitamin D in your daily routine.
Some of the notable interactions of vitamin D with therapeutic drugs are described below.
VITAMIN D INTERACTION WITH DIGOXIN
Digoxin is a choice of drug for heart failure patients. It is also used to treat abnormal heart rhythms or arrhythmias. Vitamin D amplifies the therapeutic effects of digoxin. It can also increase the risk of side effects which includes skin rashes, trouble breathing, and dizziness.
If you are someone who takes digoxin for any condition then you must speak to your doctor before starting vitamin D supplementation.
VITAMIN D INTERACTION WITH DRUGS METABOLIZED BY LIVER
Some medicines that you take are in their inactive forms. When they enter your body, the liver metabolizes these medicines and converts them into their active forms. This metabolism of the drug is necessary for the exhibition of its therapeutic effects. The liver also helps your body to get rid of some drugs by breaking them down into their metabolites. If it fails to do then the drug may stay in your body for a longer duration and can cause different side effects.
Vitamin D can interfere with the metabolism of drugs by the liver. Consequently, it can alter the therapeutic effects of drugs and can also lead to more pronounced side effects.
The prevalence of obesity is increasing day by day mainly due to our unhealthy food and lifestyle choices. Being overweight or obese can put you at the risk of many diseases including diabetes and cardiovascular problems. For some people, obesity can also affect their mental health.
Although diet and lifestyle changes are the key to achieve your weight loss goals but incorporating vitamin D into your daily routine can make your journey a little easier.
It is recommended that you speak to your healthcare provider before taking vitamin D supplements especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medicines for any underlying health condition.