Does Vitamin D Help With Weight Loss?

Salmon steak, fortified cereals (cornflakes), glass of milk and egg yolk, all sources of Vitamin D
Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

There are a lot of rumors floating around about the link between vitamin D and weight loss. Researchers know that vitamin D, which is stored in the body’s fat cells and helps it absorb calcium and iron, plays a role in maintaining a healthy weight. And there are several theories as to how exactly it does this. 

Overview of Research

Studies have uncovered a relationship between a lack of vitamin D and extra weight.

To put it another way, they’ve found that overweight people tend to be deficient in vitamin D. But it’s unclear whether the deficiency leads to weight gain or the weight gain leads to low levels of the vitamin.

Other research points to a link between vitamin D and weight loss. In two studies, overweight people who had low vitamin D levels were given vitamin D supplements and went on to lose weight and lower their body fat.

Another body of research suggests a relationship between vitamin D and actual stomach fat. A 2012 study found that taking the vitamin played a role in reducing abdominal fat mass, but there wasn't a significant weight-loss association.

Vitamin D and Weight

If you’re looking for a miracle weight loss supplement, vitamin D isn’t it. (And as far as I know, neither is anything else. There is no miracle weight-loss pill). There isn’t any evidence that taking vitamin D will help you drop unwanted pounds.

What the studies do show is that vitamin D deficiency could hinder weight loss.

So if you’re overweight and can’t seem to get rid of that stubborn extra poundage, check your vitamin D levels. If they’re too low, upping your intake could help with weight loss. But remember, healthy eating and exercise are the keys to weight loss - supplementing your diet with vitamin D won’t do any good unless you’re burning more calories than you’re taking in.

How to Get Enough Vitamin D

One easy way to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D is to take a daily multivitamin - almost all of them are infused with the recommended amount.

As for natural sources, direct sunlight is actually the number one way to get vitamin D. But doctors don’t recommend relying on sunshine for your daily dose because the risk of skin cancer and other sun-related ailments outweigh the benefits of vitamin D.

There are relatively few foods that naturally contain vitamin D. But salmon, tuna packed in water, and eggs are all great sources. Plus, milk, yogurt, and cereal are often fortified with vitamin D, so check out the labels on those foods if you’re looking for extra sources.

Mushrooms are also a great source of vitamin D, but only if they’re left in direct sunlight for at least 48 hours before they’re consumed. Several brands, including Monterey Mushrooms, sell mushrooms that are already fortified with vitamin D.

Continue Reading