Vitamin D: The Missing Piece to the Weight Loss PuzzleVitamins form part of the essential nutrients needed by the body to function properly. Most essential vitamins and minerals are adequately collected through a well-balanced diet, though there are some that require slightly more work to achieve optimal levels each day.
Vitamin D intake is achieved predominately through both food consumption and contact with direct sunlight. Well-known benefits of Vitamin D include maintenance of healthy bones and teeth, support of immune system function and help protect against multiple diseases including Cancer, Type-1 Diabetes and Heart Disease.
However, recent studies have highlighted the influence sufficient Vitamin D levels have on fat loss. Research showed that participants with adequate Vitamin D levels were able to lose more weight when placed on a standardised weight loss program than those who possessed lower levels of Vitamin D. Further studies have found that people who consumed more dietary Vitamin D had less belly fat than those who ate less.
Vitamin D deficiency has become a bigger issue in recent years amongst Australian adults, influencing increased obesity levels nationwide. Research has showed that an estimated 31% of all adults are inadequate in Vitamin D levels, increasing to more than 50% in females during the Winter-Spring months and in those residing in the colder states. Those who may also be Vitamin D deficient include those over 50 years of age and people with darker skin tones.
So how does Vitamin D achieve all of these things? It's because Vitamin D isn't just a Vitamin, but a hormone secreted by the body in which bonds to receptors found in major areas of the body needed for function- such as the heart, pancreas, muscles, immune-system cells and brain. This means that not only is Vitamin D good for weight loss, but Vitamin D is needed for proper function and protection of the body.
Other benefits of Vitamin D include:
- Increased Vitamin D levels result in an increase in Leptin levels, a hormone that controls satiety. Increased Leptin levels mean that you will feel fuller for longer and prevent unneeded snacking and having a second serving. Studies have showed a breakfast high in Calcium and Vitamin D can suppress an appetite over a 24hr period
- Optimal Vitamin D levels correlate directly with a decrease in fat storage. When Vitamin D levels are low, hormones PTH and Calcitrol elevate which encourage the body to store fat instead of burn it.
- Vitamin D and Calcium work together to help you lose fat. Studies have suggested that both nutrients help fight against stress hormone Cortisol, a stress hormone that when elevated causes weight gain.
- Vitamin D and Calcium has been found to improve risk of heart disease by stabilising triglyceride levels in the blood.
Vitamin D production is generally associated with contact with direct sunlight, however one must be in contact for an extended period on bare skin in order to reach optimal levels, increasing risk of Skin Cancer. A safer alternative is consumption of foods rich in Vitamin D. The average person roughly needs about 1000-2000 individual units (IU) of Vitamin D per day, whilst those who are larger require a higher IU per day for optimal Vitamin D levels. Whilst supplementation of Vitamin D is helpful, dietary sources are recommended as most carry along complementary nutrients that assist with weight loss.
Such foods rich in Vitamin D include:
- Fatty fish (also offer Omega-3 which assists with reducing inflammation, slowing down plaque growth in arteries and lowering triglyceride levels)
- Salmon, Mackerel, Tuna, Trout, Herring, Sardines
- Dairy products
- Select D-fortified products. Such products contain Calcium also, as well as Leucine which assists with muscle growth and fat burning.
- Omega-enriched eggs are most desired
Keep Vitamin D levels optimal during the winter period and keep that weight off in the colder months in preparation for summer!
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