The people who know our team in our personal lives know we write about health topics for a living. That means we have many friends, family members and acquaintances asking about health trends. We’re frequently asked about taking different supplements. We always say the same thing, start by talking to your doctor about your needs and concerns and then do your research.
Recently one person was asked if taking vitamin D could help with weight control. The answer is complicated. The first question is if a person needs extra vitamin D at all. Vitamin D can be made by the body through exposure to sunlight. It can also be obtained through fatty fish, eggs, beef liver and fortified dairy and juice.
Forty-two percent of Americans are vitamin D deficient. Certain medications can put you at risk for a deficiency, as can avoiding sunlight, having extremely dark skin and some medical conditions. You may have low vitamin D levels if you suffer from mood swings, depression, lethargy or bad skin. You should speak to your doctor about being tested. But, your best cure may be going outside rather than a supplement.
Studies have linked being overweight to having a vitamin deficiency. They haven’t proven how they are connected. It could be that being deficient causes weight gain, being overweight leads to low levels or that the two just often occur together. The link between the two isn’t clear. Having said that, studies where people took vitamin D supplements have found that they can help with weight loss. Individuals with the appropriate amount of vitamin D lost more weight. And in a study, people taking the supplement lost more body fat than those taking a placebo.
It’s hard to OD on vitamin D, but having a chronically high level of the vitamin can cause serious problems. That’s why speaking to a doctor before taking a supplement is essential. Simply going out for a 10-minute walk with exposed skin during daylight hours can boost your levels of vitamin D. Supplements may not be necessary. While studies have found having the correct levels of it have used supplements, they haven’t proven that it has to be taken in supplement form to get results.
If taking it as a supplement is your best option, and you and your doctor agree it would be right for you, take it with food. Vitamin D is fat-soluble. That means your body won’t absorb it as well unless you swallow it with a meal or snack that contains some fat.
Sometimes, supplements are your best choice. Registered dietician and founder and CEO of FullHealth Ayla Barmmer put it well. “We are no longer living primarily outside in nomadic tribes. We wear sunscreen and spend a lot more time indoors than our ancestors, which is in part why supplementation fills a gap that modern living creates.” Our lives and society have changed, and so have our health needs. Supplements can be a fantastic health tool!
Yes, vitamin D can help some people lose weight. But first, speak to your doctor and learn if that’s the right course of action for you!