Benefits of Vitamin D for Weight Loss and Depression

Benefits of Vitamin D for Weight Loss and Depression

Sunshine may be one of the rich source of vitamin D, but there’re many more. And this essential vitamin is not just only good for your bones, but it also improves your mood, boosts immunity and helps you to lose weight.

Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins for human body, and one of its best sources is sunshine.

All you just need to do is to spend thirty minutes outdoors, soaking in the sunshine.

What is Vitamin D?

Despite the name, this vitamin is considered a pro-hormone and not actually a vitamin. 

Vitamins are nutrients which can’t be created within the body and therefore must be consumed through our diet. 

However, this necessary vitamin can be synthesized by our body when sunlight hits our skin.

It’s estimated that sensible sun exposure on bare skin for approx 5 to 10 minutes 2-3 times / week allows most individuals to sufficiently produce vitamin D, but this vitamin breaks down quite quickly, meaning that stores can run low, especially in the winter season.

Health Benefits of Vitamin D :

The health advantages of vitamin D may include :

1. For Healthy Bones

Vitamin D plays a vital role in the regulation of calcium and maintenance of phosphorus levels in the blood. These are the two factors that are extremely important for maintaining strong and healthy bones.

We require this vitamin to absorb calcium in the intestines and to reclaim calcium that would otherwise be excreted through the kidneys.

Vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets in children, a disease characterized by a severely bow-legged appearance due to softening of the bones.

In adults, vitamin D deficiency manifests as osteoporosis or osteomalacia.

Osteomalacia results in muscular weakness and poor bone density.

Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease among the post-menopausal women and older men.

2. For Cancer Prevention

Vitamin D has been widely known and marketed for their claimed anti-cancer properties.

It’s not clear, however, if consuming additional vitamin D in the diet or as supplement affects the risk of cancer.

One 2014 study states that the supplements had no significant effect on the risk of cancer.

2014 study concluded that vitamin D3 may decrease the risk of death from cancer, but concerns with the quality of the data were noted.

Insufficient evidence exists to recommend vitamin D supplements for individuals with cancer.

3. For Diabetes

A systematic review of 2014 concluded that available studies present no evidence of vitamin D3 supplementation having an effect on glucose homeostasis or diabetes prevention.

A review article of year 2016 reported that while there’s increasing evidence that vitamin D deficiency may be a risk factor for diabetes, over-all evidence regarding vitamin D levels and diabetes mellitus is contradictory, requiring further studies.

4. For Depression

Clinical trials of vitamin D supplementation for depressive symptoms have generally been of low quality and show no overall effect, although subgroup analysis showed supplementation for participants with clinically significant depressive symptoms or depressive disorder had a moderate effect.

5.  For Cognition and Dementia

A systematic review of clinical studies found an association between low vitamin D levels with cognitive impairment and a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. However, lower vitamin D concentrations are also associated with poor nutrition and spending less time outdoors.

Therefore, alternative explanations for the increase in cognitive impairment exist and hence a direct causal relationship between vitamin D levels and cognition could not be established.

6. For Pregnancy

Low levels of vitamin D in pregnancy are associated with gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, and small (for gestational age) infants.

Although consuming the supplements of vitamin D during pregnancy raises blood levels of vitamin D in the mother at term, the extent of benefits for the mother or baby is unclear.

Pregnant women who take an adequate amount of vitamin D during gestation may experience a lower risk of pre-eclampsia and positive immune effects.

A 2018 review found that supplements may reduce the risk of undersized babies and of their poor rate of growth.

Pregnant women often do not take the recommended amount of it.

7. For Weight Loss

Though it’s believed that vitamin D supplementation may be an effective treatment for obesity apart from calorie restriction, one systematic review found no association of supplementation with body weight or fat mass.

A 2016 meta-analysis found that circulating vitamin D status was improved by weight loss, indicating that fat mass may be inversely associated with blood levels of it.

Recommended Dietary Intake

girl in front of sun

The table shows of recommended intake of vitamin D according to age:

United States
Age groupRDA (IU/day)(μg/day)
Infants 0–6 months40010
Infants 6–12 months40010
1–70 years60015
71+ years80020
Pregnant/Lactating60015
Age groupTolerable upper intake level (IU/day)(µg/day)
Infants 0–6 months1,00025
Infants 6–12 months1,50037.5
1–3 years2,50062.5
4–8 years3,00075
9+ years4,000100
Pregnant/lactating4,000100
Canada
Age groupRDA (IU)Tolerable upper intake (IU)
Infants 0–6 months4001,000
Infants 7–12 months4001,500
Children 1–3 years6002,500
Children 4–8 years6003,000
Children and Adults 9–70 years6004,000
Adults > 70 years8004,000
Pregnancy & Lactation6004,000
Australia and New Zealand
Age groupAdequate Intake (μg)Upper Level of Intake (μg)
Infants 0–12 months525
Children 1–18 years580
Adults 19–50 years580
Adults 51–70 years1080
Adults > 70 years1580
European Food Safety Authority
Age groupAdequate Intake (μg)Tolerable upper limit (μg)
Infants 0–12 months1025
Children 1–10 years1550
Children 11–17 years15100
Adults15100
Pregnancy & Lactation15100
 Adequate intake, no RDA/RDI yet established

Rich Source of Vitamin D

Sunlight is the most common and best source of vitamin D.

If if you’re not getting enough quantity of this vitamin, you can also find it from many vegetable and non-vegetable sources.

The richest food sources of vitamin D are fatty fish and fish oil. Here is a list of foods with good levels:

  • Fortified skim milk, 1 cup: 120 IU
  • Egg, chicken, whole large: 44 IU
  • Raw maitake mushrooms, 1 cup: 786 IU
  • Cod liver oil, 1 tablespoon: 1,360 IU
  • Herring, fresh, raw, 4 ounces: 1,056 IU
  • Swordfish, cooked, 4 ounces: 941 IU
  • Salmon, sockeye, cooked, 4 ounces: 596 IU
  • Sardines, canned, 4 ounces: 336 IU
  • Tuna, canned in water, drained, 3 ounces: 68 IU

Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D deficient people may show following symptoms :

  • Fatigue
  • Depressed mood
  • Hair loss
  • Muscle pain
  • Getting sick or infected more often
  • Painful bones and back
  • Impaired wound healing

If vitamin D deficiency continues for long period of time, it can result in:

Deficiency of vitamin D may also contribute to the development of certain cancers, especially breast, colon and prostate cancers.

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