Table of Contents
- Why Do We Need Vitamin D?
- Can Lack Vitamin D Cause Weight Gain?
- Blood Test For Vitamins And Minerals Deficiencies
- Vitamin D And Weight Loss
- Carotenoids In Leafy Green Vegetables Can Be Useful
Also called calciferol, vitamin D is one of the fat-soluble vitamins essential for the normal formation of bones and teeth and for the absorption of calcium. The deficiency of vitamin D can cause osteoporosis, rickets, and a host of other problems.
Vitamin D is not only an essential vitamin but also a hormone-like substance, which has an effect on, among other things, the immune system, the skeleton, and the function of the muscles. It is called the sunshine vitamin because it is produced in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Some studies are even linking this sunshine vitamin to weight gain. So is there a relation between low vitamin d and weight gain? Is there a relationship between Vitamin D and weight loss? Before we answer ‘can lack vitamin D cause weight gain’ in more detail, let us first learn a little more about Vitamin D and the very important functions it plays in our body.
Why Do We Need Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is found naturally in some foods and in supplements. However, the main source of vitamin D is the sunlight – around 90 percent of the body’s vitamin D actually comes from the sun. To be more specific, it is not the sunlight itself that contains vitamin D, but when the sun’s rays hit the skin, the cholesterol in the skin is converted into vitamin D, which can then be stored in the body for future needs. In order for this conversion and storage to take place, however, it is required that you get enough sunlight. It is important that we are hit by the sun’s UV-B rays, which only happens when the sun is at an angle of at least 45 degrees above the horizon.
Consequences Of Vitamin D Deficiency
The deficiency of vitamin D especially affects the bones because its deficiency prevents the correct absorption of calcium, a mineral necessary to maintain bone health. This can lead to a loss of bone density that may lead to the development of osteoporosis and osteomalacia and increases the risk of fractures.
Numerous studies have associated vitamin D deficiency with different diseases, from cognitive disorders to cardiovascular diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, cancer, schizophrenia, ADHD, hypertension, among others. Vitamin D deficiency can also lead to rickets in children, characterized by bone deformities, pain, and muscle weakness.
But can its deficiency also result in weight gain? Let’s explore!
There is a growing trend of studies that establish a link between Vitamin D deficiency and weight gain or obesity. A correlation between low vitamin D and weight gain is concerning, but in that case, it gives the person hope that supplementing Vitamin D is the resolution to the situation. The truth is to be found, like almost every other case, in the details. In reality, Vitamin D is easy to supplement and easy to ingest in toxic quantities. One way to reorient around the issue here is not vitamin D but its long-term effects on the body. Some scientists argue that the high level of D in the diet is related to diseases (like Diabetes) and the risk of certain cancers. Many may not even realize it until after they have developed an eating disorder, but they would eventually find themselves lacking Vitamin D. Most physicians will tell you that in patients with an eating disorder if they do not lose weight from their diet the persistence is due to nutritional deficiencies in these individuals.
Can Lack Vitamin D Cause Weight Gain?
Can lack of vitamin d cause weight gain? Yes, it can. As discussed above, it is highly contested that a Vitamin D deficiency definitely causes weight gain. There is no clear consensus on the topic yet. However, even if a causal link between low vitamin D and weight gain is not clear, a vitamin D deficiency is still a cause for concern. There is a strong correlation, but not causation that connects low vitamin D and weight gain. The lower you go, the more vitamin D deficiency is likely to affect your physical and psychological condition. For those people that have a chronic or recurrent condition, vitamin D supplementation is recommended. If you have a chronic illness like arthritis, a physical test will reveal a vitamin D defect that requires a prescription from your doctor. An accident or surgery might also disable the body’s fat tissues from absorbing vitamin D, so even if your diet is still healthy, you might need to increase your vitamin dosage.
There is a growing body of research, however, that shows that those who suffer from obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or cancer are more likely to suffer from Vitamin D deficiency. For a healthy diet, high intakes of Vitamin D are essential. It is the body’s own vitamin D synthesis (in its natural metabolism) or absorbing capacity that gives rise to the high body weight you see on your scale. The low levels that our bodies produce, the so-called “metabolic disorders’ ‘ that cause a high body weight, is a disconcerting phenomenon. So even though a causal link is not established, low vitamin D and weight gain still demand our attention.
Low levels of the hormone that regulates Vitamin D, called calcitriol, may predispose some to diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and possibly many other chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, and cancer. To avoid or treat a genetic susceptibility to these diseases, it is important to check blood and bone calcium levels and take a blood glucose test every few months to check for changes in blood glucose levels. Abnormal levels of Vitamin D may interfere with the formation and maintenance of DNA called “chromosomes”, which will then increase the dangers of certain kinds of cancers. This is why a link between low vitamin D and weight gain is not the only danger.
Blood Test For Vitamins And Minerals Deficiencies
To determine if you have low levels of Vitamin D, you should go for a blood test for vitamins and minerals deficiencies to check for both healthy levels and vitamin D deficiencies. It is important to remember that a low level of Vitamin D is not necessarily due to Vitamin D deficiency. This sounds paradoxical but it happens due to metabolic irregularities. It can still occur if you consume too much unhealthy fat, fast-foods, or have an issue with lipid metabolism. If you have had an abnormal metabolism recently, it is possible that low vitamin D and weight gain will both show up.
When your Vitamin D levels are low, your body stores less calcium in bones because the body cannot use calcium in the form it is required to in order to be fully capable of the repair of damaged bones. The resulting reduced blood calcium levels mean that your bones may become more susceptible to fractures, including a higher risk of osteoporosis, or, more likely, a heart attack or stroke. Calcium is required for the proper functioning of bones and the retention of muscles. So, low vitamin D and weight gain are correlated, but mere weight gain or even risky obesity is not the only symptom one should be concerned about. It is very important that you get your blood test for vitamins and minerals deficiencies done regularly.
Low Levels Of Vitamin D Can Have Serious Repercussions
On the other side, high levels of Vitamin D decrease the levels of these essential minerals by decreasing the production of calcium ions and calcium oxalates. This means that your bones become weaker, more susceptible to breaking, and less likely to keep up with the needs of living. Without it, your body may not repair the injuries caused by broken bones, allowing disease to occur. Low vitamin D and osteoporosis are as much of a concern as low vitamin D and weight gain. Vitamin D deficiency and a decrease in calcium may increase the severity of problems such as depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, osteoporosis, and heart disease. It is not well understood how deficiency is connected to osteoporosis, but as you continue to eat and exercise in addition to regular blood tests of your Vitamin D levels, please be aware that you are at least as likely to need treatment with an osteoporosis medicine as you are with an excess of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D In milk
People often ask if there is Vitamin D in milk. Milk has Vitamin D, as is the case with cow’s milk available commercially. Milk has a high concentration of Calcium, Vitamin D3, and Vitamin D2. This is an important vitamin. Your doctor may recommend that you buy whole milk for optimal nutrition. Look for a milk product that contains all three components mentioned above. Not only there is Vitamin D in milk, but it also contains potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese which helps to keep the body’s metabolism running smoothly and cell processes active. Many brands of whole milk may also be fortified with Vitamin D. The practice of fortifying milk with Vitamin D comes from the pre-modern era when many children were inflicted with Rickets. When rickets was prevalent, vitamin D levels were often low, making drinking lots of milk seemed like a healthier option for the children who were dying from rickets at that time. Thus it is not only that low Vitamin D and weight gain are connected, but plenty of other systems of your body depend on it.
Vitamin D And Weight Loss
What is the relation between Vitamin D and weight loss? A recent meta-analysis from a Multifactor randomized controlled trial of vitamin D in type 2 diabetes found that there were no differences between vitamin D supplementation and placebo for reductions in serum 25(OH)D and changes in weight. However, 25(OH)D levels were significantly lower when the individuals took supplements than when they consumed placebo (5.6 ng/mL vs 7.4 ng/mL). This discrepancy, which could have occurred due to either a lower dose or a placebo condition, was corrected in the current meta-analysis.
This effect of vitamin D on weight is due to two mechanisms: 1) decreased absorption and 2) increased activity of the metabolic pathways in peripheral tissues. In vitro studies indicate that vitamin D may not be able to bind to adipose tissue cells but not stimulate the uptake and conversion of cholesterol into free fatty acids, which would further decrease serum 25(OH)D. There was an increase in the number of adipose tissue lipids after vitamin D administration (15%) as compared to placebo, suggesting that there might be an increase in fat storage in the system, which would further decrease the amount of circulating 25(OH)D. Thus low Vitamin D and weight gain are often observed together, and treating this situation causes some restoration.
LDL And HDL
The reduction in lipolysis induced by beta-carotene may be a contributing factor in the decrease in adipose tissue lipids seen after vitamin D supplementation, while the increase in the conversion of LDL into HDL may be involved in the increased lipid levels observed after vitamin D supplementation. The increase in circulating free fatty acids has also been reported to be associated with increased body weight.
Carotenoids In Leafy Green Vegetables Can Be Useful
Leafy green vegetables like cabbage, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, turnips, and cauliflower may contain carotenoids, which may stimulate the conversion of carotenoids into the beneficial lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin A precursor, selenium. Other carotenoids have been shown to promote weight maintenance and may even affect lipid metabolism in some animal models. Carotenoids in leafy green vegetables can reduce fat, but they do not promote weight maintenance. Carotenoids are used in a number of clinical processes, and they have been shown to reduce body weight. However, it is important to note that the effects on energy expenditure of consumption of some of the carotenoids found in cruciferous vegetables are limited to the acute phase of their consumption. Some studies have shown that the most important effect of cruciferous vegetables on energy intake and weight loss comes from dietary phytates. With such behavior, if low Vitamin D and weight gain are an issue, green leafy vegetables would be able to help one out by reducing adipose tissue which will help the body in vitamin D absorption.
To close out, one might wonder whether low Vitamin D and weight gain is an issue for them or not? It’s worth remembering that low vitamin D and weight gain are often found together, but merely taking vitamin D has added risk of vitamin D toxicity. So, be aware of that.