Vitamin D supplements are sometimes touted as a natural weight loss aid. Indeed, some research suggests that running low on vitamin D might increase your risk of obesity, while taking vitamin D supplements may help promote weight loss and weight maintenance.
Benefits of Vitamin D for Weight Loss
Here's a look at some key findings on vitamin D and weight:
In a 2010 study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that boosting your levels of vitamin D (and intake of dairy-derived calcium) may increase the likelihood of weight loss while dieting. The study involved 126 overweight women, all of whom were followed for six months.
2) Weight Gain Prevention
Vitamin D may help thwart the weight gain that often occurs in middle-aged women, according to a 2007 study from the Archives of Internal Medicine. For the study, 36,282 postmenopausal women were assigned to receive 400 IU of vitamin D and 1,000 mg of calcium in supplement form or a placebo daily. After three years, supplement-taking participants who had skimped on calcium prior to the study were found to be 11 percent less likely to gain weight (compared to those assigned to a placebo).
Vitamin D may enhance some positive effects of weight loss, a 2007 study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests. In tests on 63 overweight or obese women assigned to a weight loss program, scientists discovered that those who took 400 IU of vitamin D and 1,200 mg of calcium in supplement form daily during the course of their 15-week diet had greater improvements in cholesterol levels (compared to those given a placebo for the same time period).
When Should You Take It For Weight Loss?
Supplements containing both vitamin D and calcium are possibly effective for weight loss, according to the National Institutes of Health. However, scientists have yet to determine whether taking vitamin D alone (rather than in combination with calcium) can help promote weight loss.
Even though vitamin D is found in some foods (such as oily fish and fortified milk) and can be produced by the body during sun exposure, taking supplements may be a more reliable means of increasing your vitamin D levels. Although vitamin D might not help you lose weight on its own, increasing your vitamin D intake could support your weight loss efforts while enhancing your overall health. (Essential for strong bones and osteoporosis prevention, vitamin D may also help fend off heart disease and stimulate your immune system.) In order to achieve weight loss, it's important to combine vitamin D supplementation with a healthy diet and regular exercise program.
If you decide to take vitamin D supplements, be aware that consuming an excessive amount of vitamin D may cause vomiting, loss of bone density, and other problems.
Caan B, Neuhouser M, Aragaki A, Lewis CB, Jackson R, LeBoff MS, Margolis KL, Powell L, Uwaifo G, Whitlock E, Wylie-Rosett J, LaCroix A. "Calcium plus vitamin D supplementation and the risk of postmenopausal weight gain." Arch Intern Med. 2007 May 14;167(9):893-902.
Foss YJ. "Vitamin D deficiency is the cause of common obesity." Med Hypotheses. 2009 Mar;72(3):314-21.
Major GC, Alarie F, Doré J, Phouttama S, Tremblay A. "Supplementation with calcium + vitamin D enhances the beneficial effect of weight loss on plasma lipid and lipoprotein concentrations." Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Jan;85(1):54-9.
National Institutes of Health. "Vitamin D: MedlinePlus Supplements". January 2011.
Shahar DR, Schwarzfuchs D, Fraser D, Vardi H, Thiery J, Fiedler GM, Blüher M, Stumvoll M, Stampfer MJ, Shai I; DIRECT Group. "Dairy calcium intake, serum vitamin D, and successful weight loss." Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Nov;92(5):1017-22.