Vitamin D and Your Waist

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

October 29, 2014

There has been much misinformation about Vitamin D in the mainstream press lately. I felt compelled to send this article again so you can know the facts – and take control of your health.

– David Blyweiss, M.D.

  • 75% of Americans are deficient of this critical nutrient
  • Can your levels of a common vitamin predict weight gain?
  • The best way to get more of it…

When we hear the words “vitamin deficiency” we immediately think of a third world country. It never occurs to us that anyone here in the U.S. could be deficient of anything.

But believe it or not, there’s a vitamin that almost 75% of Americans are deficient in. It’s vitamin D.

My patients are always surprised to hear this. But it’s true. Here in the “land of plenty” a whopping 3 out of 4 adults aren’t getting enough vitamin D.

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In my issues, I’ve discussed Vitamin D and cancer… But here’s a surprising twist.

Vitamin D isn’t really even a vitamin. It’s a steroid hormone that’s produced when your skin is exposed to ultraviolet (UVB) radiation from the sun. When your skin is exposed to these rays, it converts a form of cholesterol into vitamin D3. This is why it’s often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin.”

We don’t have a sunshine shortage here in the U.S. So how could anyone be deficient in this nutrient?

A big part of the problem is our aversion to sunlight. A lot of people slather on the sunscreen before heading outdoors. And those who burn easily often add a hat and long-sleeved shirt for even further protection. All of these measures reduce the amount of vitamin D your body is able to produce.

But vitamin D is vitally important to your long-term health. It reduces your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. It strengthens your bones. It even wards off several bacterial and viral infections, protects against autoimmune disorders and fights off depression.

When you have low levels of vitamin D it increases your risk of all of these disorders.

And for years now, researchers have been investigating a link between vitamin D and obesity.

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It seems vitamin D deficiency goes hand-in-hand with weight gain. But nobody seems to be sure whether the vitamin deficiency causes weight gain, or if the weight gain causes vitamin D deficiency.

The answers are slow in coming, but here’s what you should know about vitamin D and your weight…

Evidence is mounting that sufficient levels of vitamin D are necessary for normal weight.

Part of it has to do with something called leptin. This is the protein that controls your appetite and your brain’s “hunger” center. It tells your brain you’ve got enough energy stores and don’t have to eat any more.

But guess what happens if your body doesn’t produce enough leptin. Your brain never receives a signal saying you’ve already eaten exactly what you need! Instead, you just keep eating. And keep packing on the pounds.

That’s where vitamin D comes in. Low levels of vitamin D interfere with the effectiveness of leptin. But research shows supplementation with vitamin D3 can help increase leptin levels. This, in turn, can help control your hunger patterns.

The other part has to do with the way your body processes sugar. You see, Vitamin D improves insulin sensitivity. When your insulin response is working right, it helps your body burn blood sugar for energy instead of storing it as fat.

Your vitamin D levels may even be able to predict your ability to lose or gain fat. That’s what researchers at the University of Minnesota discovered. They found people with higher levels of vitamin D were able to lose more weight when dieting. This was especially true when it came to belly fat.

Lead researcher Shalamar Sibley says, “What’s interesting about our study is we did not recruit people to be vitamin D inadequate; we recruited people who were overweight or obese for our weight-loss study. And they happened, on average, to have inadequate vitamin D levels, so it tells you how prevalent the problem is.”

“What is suggested here is that if you start out with an inadequate vitamin D level, it’s possible that this might inhibit or impede your ability to lose weight,” she notes.

Before running out to buy your vitamin D supplement, there are some things you should know.

First off, not all vitamin D is created equal. It’s important to choose the most active form of natural vitamin D. Look for a formula that contains vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol. This is the form that will give you the most benefit.

Second, how much should you take? The government guidelines say you only need 200 IU each day. But given the fact 75% of Americans are deficient that may be much too low. I suggest 2,000 IU daily and up to 5,000 IU if you’ve been tested as deficient. People who are dark-skinned or overweight may need even more.

And don’t forget the most natural source of all. Sunshine!

If just an hour in the sun can give you 10,000 to 15,000 IU of vitamin D….is 2000 IU/day really enough? Something to think about…

Autier P, Gandini S. Vitamin D supplementation and total mortality: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Arch Intern Med. 2007 Sep 10;167(16):1730-7.

Grant WB, Cross HS, Garland CF, Gorham ED, Moan J, Peterlik M, Porojnicu AC, Reichrath J, Zittermann A. Estimated benefit of increased vitamin D status in reducing the economic burden of disease in western Europe. Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 2009 Feb-Apr;99(2-3) Epub 2009 Mar 4.

Ulutas O, Taskapan H, Taskapan MC, Temel I. Vitamin D deficiency, insulin resistance, serum adipokine, and leptin levels in peritoneal dialysis patients. Int Urol Nephrol. 2012 Oct 12. [Epub ahead of print]

Vitamin D and weight loss. University of Minnesota – U.M. News

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