Why Should I take Vitamin D? Weight Loss and Depression Link

The following information is taken directly from Consumer Lab  – An independent research company that test nutritional and health products.  Read on to understand the many benefits of vitamin D (including weight loss and the prevention of depression).

When to take Vitamin D & how much is equally important and are included at the bottom of the article.

A recent study found that older women (69 years and older) whose vitamin D levels were low had a greater risk of being frail. Frail individuals were those experiencing at least three of the following criteria: weight loss, weakness, exhaustion, slowness, and low physical activity.

Research has found that men with low levels of vitamin D in the blood were at increased risk for heart attack compared to those with sufficient levels. This may contribute to the higher rate of cardiovascular mortality among black Americans compared to white Americans, as blacks tend to have lower vitamin D levels.

More recently, an analysis of two large studies showed that men who consumed 600 IU or more per day of vitamin D from foods and supplements were 16% less likely to have cardiovascular disease and stroke over a period of approximately 20 years compared to men consuming less than 100 IU per day. The same association was not seen among women; the reason for this is unclear but one possible explanation given is that women may need higher intake of vitamin D because they tend to have a higher percentage of body fat than men and vitamin D is fat soluble.

Lower levels of vitamin D are also associated with a higher risk and severity of depression.  A study in Italy, for example, showed that older women with low vitamin D levels were twice as likely to develop depressive mood as those with higher levels.  Older men with low levels were 60% more likely to develop depressive mood. Data from the same study showed that those who were severely vitamin D deficient were approximately 60% more likely than those who were vitamin D sufficient to experience substantial cognitive decline. 

A study from Finland suggested that high vitamin D status provides protection against Parkinson’s disease. People with the highest vitamin D levels had a 65% lower risk of developing Parkinson disease than those with the lowest vitamin D levels.

Low levels of vitamin D are also associated with a higher risk in women of developing rheumatoid arthritis. There is conflicting evidence about whether vitamin D helps reduce the overall risk of dying from cancer, although studies have consistently shown that higher vitamin D serum levels were associated with decreased risk of death from gastrointestinal cancers.

Studies suggest that vitamin D may also improve balance and reduce the risk of falls in older adults, for reasons that aren’t clear. However, a recent study in women aged 70 and older who were at-risk for bone fracture showed an increase in falls and fractures among those given an extremely high, single, annual dose (500,000 IU) of vitamin D3. 

A review of studies found that daily vitamin D intake over 500 IU decreased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 13% compared with intake of less than 200 IU. However, vitamin D supplementation was not shown to effect glucose tolerance among people with established type 2 diabetes. There is preliminary evidence that giving vitamin D supplements to infants might decrease the risk of type 1 diabetes later in life.

Weak evidence hints that if women avoid vitamin D deficiency it might reduce their risk of multiple sclerosis.

A study in post-menopausal women showed 400 IU of vitamin D3 and 1,000 mg of calcium daily were less likely to gain small to moderate amounts of weight compared to women taking placebo.

Take Vitamin D with Food

It is not uncommon for a person being treated for vitamin D deficiency to fail to achieve adequate serum levels. A small but striking study at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation Bone Clinic suggests that one reason may be that such people are taking vitamin D supplements on an empty stomach or with a small meal, usually breakfast or lunch. In the study, 17 such people were instructed, instead, to take the same supplement with the largest meal of the day, usually supper. After 2 to 3 months, researchers found that serum vitamin D levels had increased, on average, by 56.7%. This magnitude of increase was seen across a wide range of vitamin D dosage and forms (D2 and D3). As vitamin D is fat soluble, it is generally recommended that it be taken with a meal containing fats. However, based on this study, it may be best to take vitamin D with your largest meal of the day, which is likely to contain the most fat.

 Foods containing Vitamin D include:

  • Fish-liver oils
  • Fortified milk
  • Fatty Fish

The recommend dose is 1000IU/day

Source: Consumer Lab