Every once in awhile we learn something new that makes us slap our palm to our forehead and say, “Of course!” Get your hand ready, because you’re about to learn something about Vitamin D and weight loss that will find you in that position.
First, let’s get to know Vitamin D a little better. It is naturally occurring in the body and might be best known for building strong bones. Sunlight activates Vitamin D, already found in the skin, into a usable form for the rest of the body. The “sunshine vitamin” promotes calcium absorption (remember this key point) for healthy bones and acts as the body’s “d-fense” against osteoporosis. Healthy levels of this vitamin also have been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes, lower the chance of a heart attack, and reduce hypertension.
Now let’s get into this vitamin’s ability to boost weight loss. When your body lacks calcium, it may experience an increase in synthase, an enzyme that converts calories into fat. In a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, obese women who were placed on a 15-week diet and took 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day lost six times more weight than women who followed the diet alone. Authors of the study suggest that in addition to increasing daily calcium consumption, fueling the body with Vitamin D-rich nutrients, which promotes calcium absorption, drives the body from a fat-storing state into a fat- burning state, and can speed up weight loss.
Vitamin D receptors are found everywhere in the body, including the brain and fat cells. Fat cells send signals to your body via a hormone called, leptin, which regulates your hunger levels. The more leptin your body produces, the less hunger you will feel. When your body has sufficient levels of D, it releases more of the appetite-suppressing hormone. Conversely, a lack of Vitamin D lowers the amount of leptin and disrupts the body’s ability to control appetite.
Vitamin D has also been shown to help burn off the dreaded belly fat. A study from the University of Minnesota found that this nutrient triggers weight loss around the abdomen in particular. Authors of the study suggest that the vitamin works with calcium to reduce the production of cortisol, the notorious stress hormone that causes you to store belly fat.
Now that you know the critical role Vitamin D plays in weight loss, remove your palm from your forehead and ask yourself what you need to do to leverage its weight loss benefits.
First, find out from your medical provider if you are deficient in Vitamin D. This is detected in a simple blood test. If you are, you’re not alone. A study published in Nutrition Journal found that over 42 percent of American adults are not getting adequate levels of Vitamin D.
The best way to naturally boost your Vitamin D levels is to spend some time each day out in the sun. A 10-15 minute walk outside is a great way to boost your Vitamin D intake and sneak in a little bit of exercise. This is especially easy in the spring and summer months when temperatures allow for it.
You can also increase Vitamin D by selecting foods rich in the nutrient. Fatty fish, such as tuna or salmon, eggs (with the yolks), fortified milk, and liver are all excellent sources of Vitamin D. And if you can’t include these types of foods into your diet due to allergies or other restrictions, you can get your Vitamin D in an over-the-counter nutritional supplement.
Whether you are just starting out on your weight loss journey or already firmly in the process, just know that stepping outside to feel the sun on your skin is an easy and enjoyable way to help you reach your weight loss goals, all thanks to Vitamin D. And there you have it (mind blown)!