Vitamin D is involved in over 200 enzymatic reactions (functions) in the human body. Several studies have determined there is a link between vitamin D deficiency and obesity. Scientists are still trying to conclude which comes first, the weight problem or the deficiency. What is known is an individual’s vitamin D status prior to initiating a weight loss regimen is indicative of their success. The lower a person’s vitamin D, the harder it will be to lose weight.
As vitamin D is fat soluble, it is more difficult for obese people to increase their vitamin D levels, than someone at a healthy weight. Rather than vitamin D being utilized by the body, it is stored in adipose (fat) tissue. That is not to say it is impossible, but rather it’s important to be consistent and persistent in efforts to boost your vitamin D.
This is why recommended supplementation dosages increase with weight. Taking 1,000 IU for every 25 pounds body weight, maxing out at 10,000 IU will help boost vitamin D levels. This gives the body enough vitamin D to perform all its functions despite the amount that is pulled up into the fat tissue.
What happens to all that vitamin D stored in the fat tissue as a person begins to lose weight? Will it leach out and cause vitamin D toxcity? Great questions and the answer is no. Losing weight is a healing process. Vitamin D is needed for healing.
Excess weight causes a significant increase in inflammation in the body. It is that inflammation that causes all weight related health problems. Vitamin D decreases this inflammation and allows the body to begin to heal. This healing is reflected in weight loss, improved sleep and improved blood values. As a person loses weight, the vitamin D in their adipose tissue is released and utilized for more healing.
Know your numbers!
Get your vitamin D levels tested and start taking vitamin D immediately. Don’t wait until you have time to get your levels tested and get your results back to start taking vitamin D. You’re not a science experiment - you don’t need to see exactly how deficient you are prior to working on your deficiency. When you get your results back, you can adjust supplementation levels from there. Current recommendation is taking 2,000 to 5,000 IU a day of vitamin D. If deficient, additional supplementation will be needed.
You may not have to go to your doctor to get your vitamin D levels. Many areas have blood work testing facilities (most regularly do drug screenings) that do certain types of blood work at a reduced cost compared to hospitals and medical offices. Your primary health care provider’s office may be the best reference source for this. Call and ask. Either way, it’s less than most hyped, fraudulent weight loss supplements cost and one of the biggest pieces of your weight loss puzzle.
For a personalized vitamin D supplementation recommendation speak with your primary health care provider or a nutritionist in your area.
What Is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a hormone. Problems with hormones create major health problems. Vitamin D is needed by all other hormones in the human body ranging from sex hormones to those that regulate blood sugar and appetite. Additionally, it is needed for proper (read healthy) cholesterol synthesis.
Most commonly known for its role in calcium absorption, vitamin D also plays a role in boosting the immune system and decreasing inflammation. This may be why vitamin D deficiency has been linked with obesity, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, depression, chronic pain, both osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis, muscle weakness, autism, gum disease, over seventeen types of cancer and more.
Getting the Most Out of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin. The human body needs fats to perform a variety of functions. Fats are the transport vehicle for the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K. Choose healthy fats such as those found in nuts, avocados, olive oil, flaxseeds and vegetable oils. Taking vitamin D with meals or with oil supplements, such as flaxseed or fish oil, can significantly improve vitamin D absorption. If a nutrient is not absorbed, it cannot be used.
Cholesterol lowering medications impair vitamin D absorption because of their role in decreasing a type of fat (cholesterol). Keep taking your medication until the doctor says otherwise, and take your vitamin D at a different time of day. That way you’re still getting your vitamin D.
It’s also important to get enough magnesium. Making magnesium rich foods a daily part of life is a great idea for overall health and to improve vitamin D utilization. Magnesium is involved in over 300 functions in the body; many of these are enzymatic functions requiring vitamin D.
Magnesium is better absorbed from foods than supplements. (Not to mention magnesium supplements can cause HORRIBLE gastric distress). It’s found in seeds, nuts, legumes and leafy greens. Great sources of magnesium include almonds, asparagus, basil, black beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cashews, collard greens, green beans, halibut, kale, kidney beans, mustard greens, peas, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, spinach, sunflower seeds, and Swiss chard.
Bonus! Not only will pairing vitamin D supplements with magnesium rich foods and healthy fats improve vitamin D absorption, it’ll help decrease inflammation, help prevent the flu, improve sleep quality and boost mood. Vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium combined have been shown to decrease joint pain.
Who is at risk for vitamin D Deficiency?
It’s hard to believe so many individuals could become deficient in a nutrient made from sunshine. Our lifestyles tend to allow for very little time in the sun. We work indoors 40+ hours a week, wear clothes and sunscreen outside and generally spend very little time outdoors. Plus people living north of the 37° parallel do not receive vitamin D from the sun from October to March because of the angle the sun hits the earth.
Factors such as age, skin color, medical conditions and medications also come into play. Melanin acts as a natural sunblock and thus the darker a person’s skin, the less vitamin D is made when they are exposed to the sun. As we age our skin thins; this slowly starts in our twenties and progresses from there. Vitamin D synthesis begins in the skin, having less skin literally means there is less opportunity to make vitamin D. This makes the elderly population is at a particularly high risk for vitamin D deficiency.
From the skin, vitamin D travels to the kidneys to essentially be twisted into the form that can be plugged into cells and utilized. ANYTHING that negatively impacts kidney function negatively impacts vitamin D status. Supplementation will circumvent this, as it will already be in the form that can be utilized.
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency:
Disorders Related to Vitamin D deficiency:
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