Vitamin D is one of the essential minerals. In fact, all vitamins are crucial to a healthy body and hence they are called vitamins (vital minerals). But vitamin D has been focus of research because of its potential benefits for bone health and also other benefits which range from cardiovascular health, depression control, blood pressure regulation, smooth cell function, anti inflammation, protection against cancers, infectious diseases and immunity boost. The last benefit is especially important these days because of the COVID-19 situation. (1) (2) (3)
But is there a link between vitamin D and weight loss? Read on to explore more about vitamin D.
What is vitamin D?
We get vitamin D naturally when our skin is exposed to sunlight. The ultraviolet rays of sun trigger production of vitamin D by cholesterol in our skin (all cholesterol is not bad after all). It is recommended that blood levels of vitamin D should be higher than 30 ng/ml and these levels should be sustained throughout the year.
Modern life has deprived us of regular exposure to sunlight. Therefore, vitamin deficiency is quite common. More so in countries where winter months don’t bring enough sunshine. Because of the critical importance of vitamin D, it is recommended that you take daily vitamin D supplement of 10 micrograms during autumn and winter. And if you have been diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency it is all the more important that you take a supplement to maintain your vitamin D levels.
Link between Vitamin D and weight loss
Now that we are sold on how critical is Vitamin D for our overall health, we come to the question that can vitamin D help with weight loss?
Science is not conclusive on vitamin D effects on weight. A study published in 2010 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition noted a weight loss of greater than 4.5 kg over a 2-year period. The authors concluded that vitamin D is linked with diet-induced weight loss. (4)
Another study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found evidence that better vitamin D status was one of the indicators of better weight loss response to low calorie diets. (5)
One study published in Menopause journal concluded that menopausal women on a daily vitamin D supplement lost 6 pounds (2.72 kg) more weight than other women on a weight loss program over a period of one year.
Other studies have established that vitamin D helps decrease cholesterol and blood fats. Both are indicators of cardiovascular health. And generally more body fat also means more fat circulating in the blood. (6)
How this happens is still not clear to the scientists. Since vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, therefore, it should be presumed that more fat should mean better absorption of vitamin D and hence better vitamin D levels. However, reverse is more likely that more fat in the body absorbs more vitamin D from the blood, leaving blood levels lower.
Another possible explanation is that lower vitamin D levels mostly cause generalized fatigue which might impact movement and restricted or no exercise. This lack of activity stemming from low vitamin D might cause weight gain and correcting vitamin D deficiency might improve activity and hence contribute to weight loss. However, there are not definitive studies that link vitamin D with increased exercise and activity. (7)
We can conclude that vitamin D is a critical vitamin for bone health and has definitive benefits for other body functions. However, currently there is not enough evidence that taking only vitamin D supplement will help you lose any significant weight. However, based on science and research we can say that having sufficient vitamin D levels surely contributes to weight loss benefits if accompanied by a healthy weight loss diet.
However, if you think that just taking vitamin D supplement every day will help you lose significant weight without following a healthy diet and being active most days of the week, then medical science does not back that at the moment. This is despite all the wonderful benefits of vitamin D that are proven by science.