Vitamin Deficiency and Weight Gain
When our skin is exposed to the sun, our body naturally produces Vitamin D. Vitamin D can also be consumed through a balanced diet, however, there are limited foods which contain significant amounts of the vitamin. Unfortunately, exposure to the sun and diet rarely provide adequate amounts of optimal vitamin D levels for most patients.
It is estimated that about 50% of people throughout the world are not receiving optimal vitamin D levels. Close to 1 billion people are living with a vitamin D deficiency. The maintenance of proper vitamin D levels is vital for bone health, the brain, and a healthy immune system. There are also suggestions that maintaining adequate vitamin D levels can aid in preventing weight gain.
Vitamin D and Weight Gain
People who are overweight or obese have been found to have lower vitamin D levels compared to patients who fall within a normal body mass index (BMI). As a result of this, some experts suggest that low levels of vitamin D may be associated with gaining weight. There are a few studies which have been conducted which also support this theory. One study gave women 1,000 IU of vitamin D or a placebo daily for 12 weeks. At the conclusion of the study, the women who fell in the vitamin D group actually lost 5.9 pounds of fat. In comparison, those in the placebo group only loss 1.1 pounds of fat.
In addition, the women who were in the vitamin D group, gained 3.1 pounds more muscle than the placebo group. Neither group saw significant changes in their overall body weight or waist circumference.
In a recent review of 11 weight loss studies, the results suggested that adding 25,000–600,000 IU of vitamin D each month may help reduce BMI and waist circumference for those who are overweight or obese. It is important to note, however, that these changes were quite small and there were no significant differences in overall body weight.
Even considering these exciting results, current research still suggests that the consumption of increased amounts of vitamin D has little to no impact on gaining or losing weight. In order to determine a scientific association between the two components, additional research and data is needed.
Lower Vitamin D Levels
In most cases, experts believe that there may be other explanations for the lower vitamin D levels which are commonly found in overweight and obese people.
As an example, because vitamin D is stored in the fatty tissues, people who have more body fat may need more vitamin D to maintain blood levels. In addition, patients who are overweight or obese may spend less time outside, or consume fewer foods which contain Vitamin D.
In order to maintain similar blood levels, experts suggest that people who are overweight may need up to 1.5 times more vitamin D than individuals with a normal BMI. Patients who are obese may require 2–3 times more vitamin D to maintain the same blood levels.
In most cases, a vitamin D deficiency doesn’t have many noticeable symptoms until it becomes severe. Many patients are not aware they are deficient until they undergo a blood test. The following symptoms are common with a prolonged, severe vitamin D deficiency:
- Bone deformities or pain
- Dental issues
- Frequent muscle spasms
- Heart problems
If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, be sure to follow up with your doctor right away to ensure you do not have a vitamin D deficiency.