How Vitamin D Helps Combat Obesity

Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

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How Vitamin D Helps Combat Obesity
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Emerging vitamin D research is beginning to explain how vitamin D works within your fat (white adipose tissue) to improve your metabolism. It shows that you are less likely to gain weight if you are adequate in vitamin D, and more likely to gain weight if you are lacking it. It is a well-known fact that 70 percent of children in the U.S. lack vitamin D, which makes this issue a key aspect of the obesity epidemic.

A number of studies in recent years have linked low vitamin D to weight problems and diabetes, although the exact role of vitamin D in this regard has not been clear. The best way to sum up the new findings is to say that adequate vitamin D is needed for optimal fitness of your fat cells. When you have “fit fat” you are much more resistant to developing numerous metabolic problems, including weight gain.

For example, you routinely make new fat cells, which is a very good thing. These new fat cells are better at making hormones like leptin and adiponectin, which have a major impact on fat and blood sugar metabolism. However, if, as you make new fat cells they rapidly expand by storing too much fat, instead of being an advantage these dysfunctional fat cells lead to problems. We now know that adequate vitamin D helps your new fat cells work properly so that they do not fill up easily with inappropriate fat.

Furthermore, vitamin D prevents your white adipose tissue, which is a combination of fat cells and immune cells, from generating excessive inflammatory signals. All situations of stubborn weight issues involve excessive inflammation. Thus, vitamin D helps get to the source of white adipose tissue problems.

Researchers have also shown that when vitamin D lowers inflammation in fat tissue, blood sugar metabolism improves.

Optimal vitamin D levels are a basic objective for people who struggle with their weight. Such issues are more likely to be noticeable in the winter when vitamin D levels drop, along with the jolt to thyroid function that is induced by cold weather. Doses of 4,000 – 8,000 IU of vitamin D per day may be needed to help offset metabolic issues as well as to support immune system and bone health.

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