According to a new study, people whose vitamin D levels test high before they go on a diet experience significantly better results on that diet than people with low levels of vitamin D. The study suggests that vitamin D plays a part in weight loss and that increasing your intake of this incredibly important nutrient just might help you drop additional pounds.
We already know that vitamin D deficiency is associated with obesity, but it's not clear which comes first- are people obese because of inadequate vitamin D... or does obesity cause vitamin D levels in the body to somehow drop?
In the current study, presented at the Endocrine Society's 91 st annual meeting in Washington DC, researchers measured blood levels of vitamin D in 38 overweight men and women before putting them on a calorie restricted diet for 11 weeks.
Here's what they found: Higher levels of vitamin D predicted greater success on the weight-loss diet.
In general, most of the subjects had insufficient levels of vitamin D in the first place. But for each 1-ng/mL increase in the active form of vitamin D, subjects lost nearly 1/4 pound more weight. Baseline levels of vitamin D- the levels measured before the subjects went on a diet- actually predicted how much weight they would lose on the diet itself, with those with the least amount of vitamin D losing the least amount of weight on the diet, and those with the most amount of vitamin D losing the most amount of weight.
Most nutritionally aware health professionals- including doctors who know anything about this stuff at all- recommend that you get a 25-hydroxy vitamin D test, which is the most accurate form of testing for blood levels of vitamin D. They also recommend that ideal levels be in the 50-80 range. Less than 20 is considered severely deficient, and under 50 is less than optimal, even though lab values for "normal" start at 30.
In addition, the researchers measured body fat distribution on all the subjects using a DXA (bone densitometry) scan. Higher baseline levels of vitamin D also predicted greater loss in troublesome (and more dangerous) abdominal fat.
"Our results suggest the possibility that the addition of vitamin D to a reduced-calorie diet will lead to better weight loss," said Shalamar Sibley, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota.
So now in addition to helping people improve physical performance, strengthening bones, improving mood and possibly fighting cancer, we can add weight loss to the resume of this amazing little vitamin. Don't wait for the doctors to catch up with the science. I recommend 2,000 IUs a day of vitamin D, a very safe amount for this inexpensive (and easy to swallow) vitamin!