Everyone these days seems to be talking about Vitamin D. It’s been a hot topic especially since Vitamin D deficiency is so widespread and is now linked to osteoporosis, depression, cancer, diabetes, and even weight loss. So what does it do for our bodies? It’s been known for many years that vitamin D is critical to the health of our bones and teeth, but what we now know about D’s role in our health is quite new.
Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin but a precursor hormone, the building block of a powerful steroid hormone in our bodies called calcitriol that assists in the buildup and breakdown of healthy tissue and regulates the processes that keep us well.
Vitamin D works with other nutrients and hormones in our bodies to support healthy bone renewal – an ongoing process of mineralization and demineralization.
Vitamin D also promotes normal cell growth and differentiation throughout the body, working as a key factor in maintaining hormonal balance and a healthy immune system.
Our bodies cannot create Vitamin D on our own.
Of course we can get plenty of Vitamin D through sun exposure, but with our obsession for blemish-free skin and love affair with sunscreen, practically every American is severely deficient in D.
So how much do we need? Some studies have shown that adults need as much as 3000-5000 IU per day, but the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board says 2000 IU per day is the max. But how does Vitamin D play a role in weight loss?
Since vitamin D is directly involved in calcium absorption, it becomes an important factor in how our bodies regulate weight. A study conducted at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis tested Vitamin D levels of 38 obese and overweight men and women while looking at a relationship between vitamin D levels and rate of weight loss.
According to the investigators, vitamin D levels predicted subsequent weight loss success in subjects on a weight loss diet. It was especially clear to scientists that Vitamin D was specifically related to abdominal fat and played a pivotal role in weight loss success rates when combined with a low calorie diet.
What can you do to get enough Vitamin D?
Get at least 15 minutes a day of unprotected sun exposure in the early morning and late afternoon, especially between May and September.
Eat a diet rich in whole foods and fish like mackerel and sardines.
Take a top-quality multivitamin every day to fill in any nutritional gaps, preferably one that includes fish oil.
Take a vitamin D supplement.
Ask your doctor about Vitamin D testing.