Vitamin D Deficiency and Weight Gain

There have been a number of studies that have suggested a possible link between vitamin D deficiency and weight gain, although the results are inconclusive. It is well known that obesity can cause vitamin D levels to sink, but what about the other way around? Is there any potential for vitamin D as a weight loss aid?

A study in 2009 published by The Endocrine Society discovered that vitamin D levels at the beginning of a weight loss program predicted success. Those who had normal levels of vitamin D were more likely to lose weight, especially around the abdominal area, than those with below normal levels. However, the researchers cautioned that the general correlation between weight loss and vitamin D is unknown, and which way the causal relation goes is still up in the air.

A 2008 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that school-age children (ages 5 to 12) who are deficient in vitamin D tend to be chubbier than those who aren’t. Once again, however, the causal connection is not known. There are plenty of studies that prove that obese people tend to have lower levels of vitamin D than others, suggesting that obesity may cause low vitamin D while low vitamin D may not cause obesity.

But, research continues.

Another study, this one published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, concluded that postmenopausal women who took vitamin D and calcium supplements were less likely to gain weight related to postmenopause.  However, the effect was small and was mainly seen in women who were deficient in vitamin D anyway.

Clearly, the results of research show that there might be some promise here, but it is still unknown if the link between vitamin D deficiency and weight gain goes both ways or not. If you are planning to go on a weight loss plan, you may want to consider boosting your D levels a bit in light of the above study showing greater success among those with normal levels. Vitamin D is relatively safe to take, requiring large amounts over many months to cause toxic effects. Don’t go over 4000 IU per day, and the recommended “normal” daily intake is 600, so around 1000 IU might be a good target.