"Hello! I keep hearing that Vitamin D helps people lose weight and that a lack of Vitamin D causes people to gain weight. Is this true? How can a Vitamin make people lose weight?
Well the good news is YES, Vitamin D does help people lose weight and yes it is equally true that a lack of vitamin D also causes people to lose weight.
How does it work? Well it is very complicated, but I will break it down for you so you can understand all the things Vitamin D does.
#1. Vitamin D regulates how the human body stores fat for the winter. During the summer when people are outside (hopefully exercising outside) their body absorbs sunlight on their skin and the human body absorbs that sunlight and then your kidneys creates vitamin D. You don't actually need to eat food with Vitamin D in the food, although that helps too.
#2. Whether you eat the Vitamin D, get it from sunlight, or even from a Vitamin D supplement, the end result is that Vitamin D triggers a fat burning mechanism in your body and gives you more energy. It basically acts like a catalyst causing your body to burn more fat, make you more energetic, and then the extra energy being used causes you to lose weight.
[What actually happens is our skin absorbs UVB radiation from the sunlight and uses that energy to make Vitamin D which goes into our blood; The liver converts the Vitamin D in your blood into Hydroxy D - and then Hydroxy D does the rest of the work.]
#3. When the human body has a lack of Vitamin D (from sunlight or other sources) what happens is the opposite. The human body starts storing up fat for the winter. Basically this is our Cro-Magnon Man genes at work, telling us that we need to store up fat for the winter.
#4. A lack of vitamin D also makes people more hungry. They start eating more than they need to in an effort to store up extra fat for the winter. You don't even consciously know you are doing it, but your body is sending signals to your brain (and vice versa) telling you to eat more because "Winter is coming."
And yes, that was totally a Game of Thrones reference.
Vitamin D also has numerous other health benefits including disease prevention by boosting your immune system, stronger bones, boosts insulin production, and helps prevent heart disease and diabetes.
Fish, vegetables, fruit and milk are all excellent sources of Vitamin D. So eat all those healthy foods during the winter and you will see results around your waistline. And if you get a chance to go someplace sunny for a vacation during the winter, take it!
To learn more on this topic I recommend reading the following two posts:
All About Vitamins - What do they do?
Winter Weight Gain and What to Do about It
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