With the days becoming shorter and colder in many parts of the country, fewer people find time to get outside during peak hours to soak up the sun’s beneficial rays.
Vitamin D deficiency increases during the fall and winter for many people. In fact, over 70% of adults and children in America are vitamin D deficient, meaning they don’t get enough vitamin D from their diet and exposure to the sun.
When the body does not receive enough vitamin D, it uses calcium from bones in order to maintain normal calcium levels in the blood. This depletes the body’s ability to form new and healthy bone mass.
Inadequate levels of vitamin D have also been linked to chronic bone pain, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, multiple sclerosis and some types of cancers, including colon cancer. In extreme cases, vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets in developing children, which can lead to bone deformities.
While the Institute of Medicine currently recommends 600 IU of vitamin D per day for adults and 800 IU per day for those over 70, Dr. Reinhold Vieth, Canadian researcher in this area, argues that this quantity is woefully inadequate. According to his work, a number closer to 4,000 IUs is needed.
The best source of vitamin D is the sun, since our bodies are able to generate vitamin D naturally. However, particularly for people in more northerly climates, it is difficult to get adequate sun year round, not to mention that it is difficult for almost all of us, regardless of where we live, to get enough sunlight each and every day.
Obesity and Vitamin D
Researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center wanted to study the relationship between weight and vitamin D levels and whether or not losing weight could significantly raise vitamin D levels in the blood. They studied 439 overweight/obese women ages 30 to 75 for one year.
Participants were divided into four different groups including a group that just exercised, a group that exercised and dieted and a group that both exercised and dieted. There was also a control group that did not change anything.
A definite relationship between weight loss and an increase in vitamin D levels was noted. Women who lost 5 to 10 percent of their body weight experienced a small increase in their vitamin D while those who lost more weight (15 percent or more) had a 3-fold increase in vitamin D levels.
Since vitamin D is stored in fat deposits, researchers felt that the weight loss helped release this vitamin D from the tissue into the bloodstream where the body can use it.
The study notes that vitamin D levels are generally lower in obese people and this could account for an increase in risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes in obese people.
Study leaders noted that a weight loss of 5 to 10 percent is generally suggested to reduce the risk of such things as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and problematic blood sugar, a greater loss may be needed to boost vitamin D levels significantly.
Best Ways to Lose Weight
The ideal prescription for weight loss is a healthy diet, comprised of whole foods such as organic fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, healthy fats and grass fed meat along with consistent exercise.
High intensity exercise is a great way to burn fat and build muscle. Time outdoors will help increase your vitamin D levels as well if you can catch the sun for about 30 minutes between the hours of 11am – 3pm.
Note: if you are in a northerly climate, and it is winter, unfortunately time in the sun will have almost no effect on your vitamin D level – you will need to take a high quality vitamin D supplement.
In addition, in order to get to Dr. Reinhold Vieth’s target of 4,000 IUs you will also likely need to take a high quality vitamin D supplement, since it can be difficult to consistently get 30 minutes of good sun per day.
-The Alternative Daily