Vitamin D Supplements for Weight Loss

Vitamin D/Weight Loss

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Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin sometimes touted as a natural weight loss aid when taken in dietary supplement form. Indeed, some research suggests that running low on vitamin D might increase your risk of weight gain, while taking vitamin D supplements may help promote weight loss and maintenance.

While vitamin D occurs naturally in some foods, such as oily fish, and is added to foods such as fortified milk and juice, many health professionals suggest getting vitamin through sun exposure. For some people, taking supplements may be a more reliable means of maintaining adequate vitamin D levels.

People who are at risk of a vitamin D deficiency include:

  • Older adults
  • Breastfed infants
  • Those with dark skin
  • People with limited sun exposure and those who frequently use sunblock
  • People who have had bariatric surgery (such as gastric bypass surgery)
  • People who are overweight or obese
  • Those who live in northern latitudes

Essential for strong bones and osteoporosis prevention, vitamin D may also help fend off heart disease and stimulate the immune system.

Benefits of Vitamin D for Weight Loss

Several studies have examined the effects of vitamin D on weight loss. Supplements containing both vitamin D and calcium show the most promise. However, scientists have yet to determine whether taking vitamin D alone (rather than in combination with calcium) can help promote weight loss.

Improved Weight Loss Success

In a 2014 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers compared 12 months of vitamin D3 supplementation with placebo in postmenopausal women in a weight loss intervention. At the study's end, women who had adequate blood levels of vitamin D had lost more weight and body fat and had a greater reduction in waist circumference.

In a 2010 study, researchers found that boosting levels of vitamin D (and intake of dairy-derived calcium) may increase the likelihood of weight loss while dieting. The study involved 126 overweight women, all of whom were followed for six months.

Prevention of Postmenopausal Weight Gain

Vitamin D may help thwart the weight gain that often occurs in middle-aged women. In a study published in 2007, 36,282 postmenopausal women were assigned to receive vitamin D and calcium in supplement form or a placebo daily. After three years, supplement-taking participants who had skimped on calcium prior to the study were found to be 11% less likely to gain weight (compared to those assigned to a placebo).

Lowered Cholesterol

Vitamin D supplementation may also enhance some positive effects of weight loss. In tests on 63 overweight or obese women assigned to a weight-loss program, scientists discovered that those who took 400 IU of vitamin D and 1,200 mg of calcium in supplement form daily during their 15-week diet had greater improvements in cholesterol levels (compared to those given a placebo for the same time period).

Supplement Safety

Be aware that consuming an excessive amount of vitamin D may cause vomiting, loss of bone density, and other problems. Long-term or excessive intake of calcium supplements may also have adverse effects on health.

Also keep in mind that the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.

A Word From Verywell

Increasing vitamin D intake could support weight loss efforts while enhancing overall health. In order to lose weight , it's important to combine vitamin D supplementation with a healthy diet and regular exercise program. If you're considering vitamin D supplements, talk with your primary care provider first. Self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

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  7. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin D fact sheet for consumers. Updated March 24, 2020.