Vitamin D is an unassuming vitamin, perhaps because all you need to do to get it is go to the nearest beach and get tanned. Because the ‘sunshine’ vitamin can easily be sourced, it’s often taken for granted. After all, not getting enough Vitamin D does not really pose serious health hazards.
On the contrary, vitamin D is currently the darling vitamin of health professionals and health enthusiasts in the know. As more and more research are devoted into understanding this understated vitamin, it becomes clear that its deficiency adversely affects cellular processes in not-so-obvious ways.
Foremost is Vitamin D’s crucial role in weight loss. If you have been hitting the treadmill hard, sticking to a healthy diet, sleeping seven hours or more, and not seeing your bulge budge a bit, perhaps you are not getting sufficient vitamin D. This is because the hypothalamus, master of the hormones, tells your body whether to store fat or release it depending on your level of vitamin D. If you have not enough, the hypothalamus tells your body to hold on to your fat storage; if you have plenty, the hypothalamus tells your cells to burn fat.
This fat-hoarding or flab-melting mechanism may have something to do with the seasons. When you are not getting enough sunshine, your body interprets this as the onset of winter. Like hibernating animals, humans may have been programmed to hold on to their fat storage when daylight gets shorter in anticipation of food shortage. But the body did not let go of its primitive ways even though humans have figured out how not to go hungry even with snow on the ground. As a result, our lack of vitamin D is taken as a license by the brain to hoard fat.
Vitamin D may be superfluously abundant in the tropics, but what if you live north of the 37th parallel (north of California, Nevada, Kentucky, Virginia in the US) where early morning sunshine is not as strong and UV rays at 10 AM onward are harmful?
Well, you can always get your sunshine vitamin from your diet. Unfortunately, very few naturally occurring foods are vitamin D-rich, except fatty fish such as tuna, salmon and mackerel. If you have infrequent encounters with those fish, your more accessible option would be to take vitamin D supplements every day because even with regular consumption of fatty fish, you may still come up short. The body only needs about 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D a day, and if you stay in that range, you can lose as much as 70% fat! At least that’s what research shows, but even if you don’t lose as much, your body will be in an excellent position to synthesize calcium and your mood will be that much better. How’s that for a bonus?