Take vitamin D to lose belly fat and achieve a better body composition. It’s prime time in the Northern Hemisphere to ensure your vitamin D levels are up to par since we’ve been in the dark days of winter for months now. New research shows that taking vitamin D can help you lose visceral belly fat and that vitamin D deficiency is directly linked to visceral belly fat levels in the body.
Visceral belly fat is fat that is deep inside the abdominal cavity surrounding the organs. It is considered “metabolically active” and is linked to greater risk for poor health and a number of diseases.
Two new studies on the connection between vitamin D and belly fat show that vitamin D deficiency profoundly affects body composition. A new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition tested the effect of supplementing with vitamin D or a placebo on visceral belly fat loss. The vitamin supplement produced a significant decrease in visceral belly fat and an overall loss of 5.4 pounds over the 16-week study—a substantial fat loss without additional exercise or dietary intervention!
A second study in the journal of the American Geriatrics Society tested vitamin D levels in an elderly Korean population and found that those with the lowest vitamin D levels had the greatest percentage of visceral fat. The trend was particularly pronounced in men, and there was a correlation between greater visceral belly fat levels and loss of lean muscle mass, indicating a poor body composition. Interestingly, although women in the study had very low vitamin D, they tended to have less evidence of muscle loss, but still had poor overall body composition.
Vitamin D deficiency was widespread in the study population with 70 percent of men being deficient and 87 percent of women (vitamin D level below 20 ng/ml). The average vitamin D level for men was 15.9 ng/ml and for women it was 11 ng/ml, both which are abysmally low. Over 90 percent of the total study population had vitamin D that was considered insufficient (below 30 ng/ml).
These numbers point to the fact that it is essential that everyone take a vitamin D supplement since deficiency is rampant in all populations (it affects Americans just as much as Koreans) and vitamin D plays a critical role in so many health factors. Not only is it linked to visceral belly fat percentage and body composition, but adequate vitamin D will increase muscle strength and development as well as play a role in immune function and injury prevention.
Take note that vitamin D deficiency is more prevalent in the elderly and is estimated to affect more than 70 percent of Caucasians and Asians. This number is significantly higher for blacks because darker skin tones appear to affect vitamin D levels, and blacks and people with darker skin tone tend to have lower levels. Another contributor to widespread vitamin d deficiency in older people is that the vitamin D receptors in muscle cells become less receptive as we age, which is a major contributing factor to muscle loss in older folks.
An easy way for all populations to begin to increase their vitamin D levels and lose belly fat is to take a high-quality D supplement of at least 5,000 IUs a day. I am a proponent of higher doses with regular tests for serum vitamin D so that you can adjust your intake for maximal health and body composition.
For a list of 25 health benefits to ensuring you have adequate vitamin D, check out the article 25 Excellent Reasons to Take Vitamin D
Seo, J., Cho, H., et al. Association Between Visceral Obesity and Sarcopenia and Vitamin D Deficiency in Older Koreans: The Ansan Geriatric Study. Journal of the American Geriatric Society. 2012. Published Ahead of Print.
Rosenblum, J., Castro, B., et al. Calcium and Vitamin D Supplementation is Associated with Decreased Abdominal Visceral Adipose Tissue in Overweight and Obese Adults. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2012. 95(1).