A group of Italian researchers presented evidence at the European Congress on Obesity that would strongly suggest that vitamin D supplementation could lead to greater weight loss in individuals deficient in vitamin D. The researchers took 400 obese men and women that were deficient in vitamin D and randomized them into three groups. The first group received no supplemental vitamin D, the second group received 25,000 international units of vitamin D per month, and the last group received 100,000 IUs of vitamin D per month. The subjects were put on a diet for a period of six months, and at the end of those six months, the results were quite clear. Both vitamin D groups had more weight loss than the group that was not supplementing with vitamin D at all.
Unfortunately our primarily indoor lifestyle has left a large portion of the developed world in a vitamin D deficient state. In fact, in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey that ran from 2005 to 2006, almost 42 percent of Americans were deficient in vitamin D, and the rate of deficiency was even higher in ethnicities with darker skin pigmentation. The dark pigmentation of some people’s skin can block out the UV rays that are necessary for the body to synthesize vitamin D.
Your morning or evening walks are not going to cut it either. The rays of morning and evening sun are too weak to elicit a significant production of vitamin D in the body. The only dietary sources of vitamin D are in fortified milk, eggs and some fish, including salmon, tuna and mackerel. These dietary sources are weak and still leave a lot of people deficient.
If you are wondering if you might be deficient in vitamin D, your primary care physician or your functional medicine practitioner can have you tested for vitamin D deficiency with a simple, readily available blood test. There has been some debate as to which test is most telling of vitamin D deficiency. There is the 25-hydroxy blood test, which has been the gold standard. Then there is the 1,25-dihydroxy version. The latter is the most bioactive form of vitamin D and theoretically should give you a better picture of your vitamin D status. However, it is more expensive and harder to find. For all intents and purposes, the 25-hydroxy vitamin D test will work just fine.
If you are found to be deficient in vitamin D, there are a few options. Your physician may choose to give you a prescription version of vitamin D. This is commonly known as Drisdol and is basically a megadose of vitamin D that you take as often as once a week. This is a valid option, but it does require a prescription and to be filled at a pharmacy. The other option is to use over-the-counter vitamin D supplements. Most people, deficient or not, would benefit from 2,000 IUs of vitamin D3 per day. If you’re deficient, you could increase to 5,000 IUs per day.
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