Can Vitamin D aid weight loss? Vitamin D-rich foods to add to your diet
A recent study found that Vitamin D supplementation can decrease body mass index (BMI) significantly. An expert on how you can get more Vitamin D and why sunlight may not be a sufficient source of the essential vitamin for many.
Vitamin D play a big role in our overall health. Not only it plays an important role in absorption of calcium and improving bone health, tissue health, colon health but also takes care of immunity. Vitamin D deficiency can affect us in myriad ways. It can put us at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease (CVD) as well as high blood pressure and obesity. Obesity can further give rise to a host of chronic diseases. A recent study found out that after using Vitamin D supplementation for 6 weeks, WT, WC, and body mass index (BMI) were decreased in people significantly and serum Vit D increased significantly. (Also read: Vitamin D deficiency: 7 reasons your Vitamin D levels are low; signs to watch out for)
What is Vitamin D?
"Sunshine Vitamin aka Vitamin D is a steroid hormone that our body produces from cholesterol when our skin is exposed to the UVB rays of the sun. A perfect gift from nature, as vitamin D is necessary for stronger immunity, proper bone health, building muscles, reversing insulin resistance, reducing joint pain, preventing cancer, reducing weight etc," says Ridhima Batra, Clinical Dietitian, Certified Diabetic Educator, Specialist Sports Nutritionist and founder of Nutrition Defined.
How we get Vitamin D from sunshine
"Vitamin D can only be synthesised with UVB rays. When these rays are absorbed into our skin, it converts into a previtamin D3 (an inactive form) which further in the liver and kidney is converted into the active form of vitamin D3. Since it's a fat-soluble vitamin, it can be stored in your body for a long time," says Batra.
But is exposure to sunlight enough for our daily Vitamin D requirements. The answer is - not for all. People who don't have access to proper sunlight, older people or people with darker skin tones face difficulty in meeting Vitamin D levels because of high melanin (a compound that protects against skin damage) as this reduces the amount of UVB light absorbed in the skin. Overweight and obese people also need more Vitamin D depending on their body size.
How to get Vitamin D from foods or supplements
- Foods that one should include for Vitamin D are fatty fish, seaweeds, algae, egg yolk, mushrooms, cod liver oil, spirulina and fortified foods like milk, tofu, yoghurt, orange juice, cheese etc.
- For oral supplementation, it's absolutely safe to take 1000 IU per day. However, do check with your doctor or dietitian on the proper dosage and duration as an excess amount of vitamin D in the body can also lead to toxicity.
How Vitamin D can help you lose weight
As per studies, vitamin D can potentially reduce the formation of new fat cells in the body and can also suppress the storage of fat cells effectively reducing fat accumulation.
"Vitamin D can increase the levels of serotonin (a neurotransmitter that affects everything from mood to sleep regulation) and testosterone levels that play a significant role in boosting your metabolism, causing your body to burn more calories, controlling appetite, increasing satiety, reducing body fat and sustaining long-term weight loss," says Batra.
So if you suspect low vitamin D levels, and are experiencing symptoms like fatigue, insomnia, bone pain, depression, hair loss or muscle weakness, consider getting your blood test done to rule out a deficiency.