Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is a natural hormone produced by the body when exposed to sunlight or through diet and supplementation. Historically it’s been known for building better bones, but did you know that it might also help in melting fat and assist in weight loss? Vitamin D is getting more and more attention, and studies are being done all over the world on this so called “superstar” vitamin in the weight loss supplement industry.
Excess body fat absorbs and holds onto vitamin D, making it unavailable to the body. When vitamin D is absent in the body, it interferes with a hormone called leptin, which sends a signal to the brain telling it that’s it’s full and should stop eating. When vitamin D is replenished and back to normal levels, leptin’s actions are restored. Studies have shown that nearly 70% of the population is deficient in vitamin D, and that nearly three out of every 4 people are overweight and borderline obese.
One of the reasons for the dramatic increase in vitamin D deficiency is that people are wearing more sunscreen than ever before and spending less and less time outdoors due to work restrictions and recreation choices (i.e., watching TV). Twenty minutes a day without sunscreen is all you need. Sunlight in its natural form stays in the body longer with greater lasting benefits; it’s cost effective and a little goes a long way. Sunlight stimulates the production of vitamin D in the body.
Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, cognitive decline, a suppressed immune system, depression and obesity. It’s important to have your 25-hydroxy vitamin D level tested. A healthy level is 30-100 ng/dL, however, the ideal and optimal level is 50-100 ng/dL. With many people living in the northern half of the U.S., making little to no vitamin D from sunshine during the winter months, it’s important take a supplement and or eat foods high in vitamin D. Bottom line, if your level is low, get more sunshine or take a vitamin D3 supplement.