Can The Sun Make You Slim?
It’s well known that vitamin D
is important for fighting depression, strengthening bones, and boosting immunity. But if that’s not enough of a resume for one single letter, recent evidence suggests that vitamin D can also affect your weight.
Though it can be had for free, 77 percent of Americans are vitamin-D deficient, according to a recent study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine
Interestingly, a similar number of Americans are also overweight. Cause or coincidence? Read on, then decide.
Is Made in the Shade Worth the Weight?
As you know, Vitamin D is produced in your body when sun exposure is adequate.
We can get a smattering of D from other sources
such as salmon, tuna and eggs. But hide in the shade from the super doses the sun provides, and science has taught us you’ll eventually find yourself in a brittle boned, coughing, sneezing depression- as you pack on unwanted weight.
The connection to weight gain and vitamin D may seem like a stretch, but it shouldn’t be a surprise. Because every cell in your body needs D to function properly—including those pesky fat cells.
There are receptors specifically for D that dictate whether fat is burned or stored – and if you’re short on the sunshine vitamin then, yes you guessed it – they store it.
As well, there are nutrients that influence weight loss, like calcium, that won’t get to the intended spot in your body when you’re low on D. The result is the fatty acid synthase, an enzyme that converts calories into fat, can multiply by as much as five times when calcium (because it’s not directed properly, due to a shortage of vitamin D) is lacking.
In a Kaiser Permanente study, obese women were given 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day and adhered to a 15 week diet. The results were that they lost six times more weight than participants following the same diet, minus the calcium supplementation. The calcium was utilized properly because these women were not deficient in vitamin D.
And a 2009 study, published by the British Journal of Nutrition
, found that weight loss can be sped up by as much as 70 percent by ingesting optimum doses of D-rich nutrients. Because with adequate nutrients to draw from, the body is prompted to burn, rather than store fat. (2)
Researchers also found that females with low levels of vitamin D in their blood gained about two pounds more than those with adequate levels of the vitamin.
Published recently in the Journal of Women’s Health
, it looked at more than 4,600 women aged 65 and older for a 54 month period. (3) Two pounds doesn’t sound like much, but it is when the modern adult trend is to gain weight year after year.
If It Looks Like A Duck…
Though we’re taught that correlation doesn’t equal causation, the connection between obesity and vitamin D deficiency should not be dismissed as random.
Mainstream medicine will say that the health and weight loss benefits of D are not proven – maybe because no money making prescription can be written for this free vitamin.
But you’d be wise to consider even more D ‘coincidences’: A recent study
showed that half of all obese adolescents wanting bariatric surgery (where they stitch the stomach into a smaller version of itself) have low levels of vitamin D. And the teens with the very lowest levels of D also sported the very highest Body Mass Index.
And this very same pattern of low D is also seen in obese adults seeking out bariatric treatments. As well, a Norwegian study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
, found that children who took vitamin D in their first year greatly reduced the risk of type I diabetes. (4)
Our Ancestors Weren’t Overweight
Our ancestors had many obstacles and challenges to overcome, but obesity was not one of them.
Why is that? We intuitively know that their leaner, wholesome diet, and more physical lifestyles are two main factors. But it’s crucial to also remember that, unlike us, they were outside most of the time. And when they were outside they didn’t use sunscreen (which blocks as much as 95% of the needed UV sunlight).
As mentioned before, this correlation between D and weight doesn’t prove that a deficiency leads to weight gain. And you’ll notice that certain health authorities, who support the pharmaceutical approach to health and wellness, will stress this point to outright dismiss what the mountain of evidence on vitamin D is suggesting.
But if we always waited for irrefutable ‘proof’ to take a stand, we’ll be like the donkey who starved to death trying to decide which of the two piles of hay to eat – because they were equal distance from him!
Let There Be Light
Finland is a country on the forefront of vitamin D research – maybe because their northern latitude, that offers little sun, has forced the issue.
Finland has moved with the times and the emerging science: a Finnish study gave newborn infants 2,000 International Units (IU) of D per day and found that Type 1 diabetes fell by 88 percent!
But the U.S. Recommended Daily Intake (RDI)
is still stuck at 400 IU, and while so much information assures us even 50,000 IU per day is not toxic.
If We Don’t Learn From History, We Might Not Have A Chance To Repeat It!
Our forefathers stayed lean on a diet of unprocessed foods, regular physical activity, and sunshine that gave them tens of thousands of IUs every hour they were outside.
Their habits are a wealth of information – and are tantamount to the study results we now demand – just so we can believe what is often self evident. So stand on the shoulders of our predecessors – and you’ll be that much closer to the sun, and your ideal weight.
I bet you can hear your mom saying ‘Told you so!’
[Bone Health Editor:
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