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Why Vitamin D & Sunshine are CRUCIAL for Fat Burning!

  • Published on: 25 February, 2017
  • Last update: 24 August, 2017

Sunshine can burn more than just your skin – it’s a potent fat burner too!

When your Vitamin D levels are low (hello fellow New Yorkers!) you’re going to have to work a lot harder to slim down – especially with stubborn abdominal (visceral) fat. If you’re doing everything right but the weight won’t budge, keep reading below!

Over the last decade or so, mainstream media has blamed the sun for the rising rates of skin cancer. They tell us we should be lathered in sunblock (full of questionable, endocrine-disrupting ingredients)!

But did you know that the highest rates of skin cancer are among indoor workers, who receive 3-10x less UV rays than outdoor workers?

Indoor workers receive sunlight filtered through windows, which only lets in UVA wavelengths (the ones that promote cancer), but block out Vitamin D-making UVB rays (which ward off tumor development).

Published research by Cedric Garland, DrPH found that over 600,000 cases of breast and colorectal cancers could be prevented each year if vitamin D levels among populations worldwide were increased. “We have quantitated the ability of adequate vitamin D to prevent all types of invasive cancers combined, which had been unexplored territory until this paper,” said Dr. Garland.

More studies to support this include…

  • A large-scale, randomized, placebo-controlled study on vitamin D and cancer showed that vitamin D can cut overall cancer risk by as much as 60 percent. This led the Canadian Cancer Society to begin endorsing the vitamin as a cancer-prevention therapy.
  • Light-skinned women who had high amounts of long-term sun exposure had half the risk of developing advanced breast cancer as women with lower amounts of regular sun exposure, according to a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

As skin cancer rates increase, we’re certainly not getting more sunshine and Vitamin D – we’re actually getting less of it. Thus, using caution while out in the sun (taking care not to burn/overdo it) does NOT mean avoiding it all together.

The sun in proper doses turns the cholesterol in our skin into Vitamin D, which is not only able to fight tumors, but can burn fat as well!

Vitamin D’s Fat Burning Power

Let’s say two people gained an extra 20 pounds. If both of these people go on the same diet, who will be more successful?

Science says the one with more Vitamin D!

Based on previous research showing that overweight children are habitually missing Vitamin D (AND that fat cells lock in Vitamin D making it harder to lose as you gain!), scientists at the University of Minnesota measured weight loss in subjects with and without Vitamin D.

The study began by enrolling determining each participant’s Vitamin D status. Most of the dieters were on the low side (which is unsurprising thanks to our irrational fear of the sun!) The team also carefully plotted the location of each subject’s extra fat using DXA (bone densitometry) scans.

The participants then went onto a calorie restricted diet for 11 weeks. The program was tailored to individual needs, leaving each person running at a caloric deficit of 750 calories.

Everyone in the study lost weight, but there were massive differences when it came to how much. As expected, success was linked to vitamin D levels — not willpower!

People with higher vitamin D levels were far more successful at losing weight.

Here comes the fun part for my fellow nerds out there: the researchers took the data they  gathered from the dieters and turned it into a mathematical equation. This equation found that for every extra 1 ng/ml of Vitamin D in participants blood at the start, the person lost an extra 0.196 kg of fat. And the fat they lost? It was predominately abdominal fat – this is the “bad” fat that’s associated with insulin resistance, heart problems, and more!

If we apply this equation to hypothetical participants in the study, let’s say:

  • “Amy” has a level of 12 ng/ml (seriously deficient in vitamin D),
  • “Elizabeth” has a level of 25 ng/ml (insufficient), and
  • “Alexa” has a level of 45 ng/ml (normal).

After 11 weeks of dieting, Amy would have lost 5 kg, Elizabeth would have lost 7.5 kg and Alexa would have lost a whopping 11 kg. That’s a huge difference – it blows my mind that a simple vitamin can impact weight loss so drastically!

Additional Studies/Information

  • In data published in The Journal of Investigative Dermatology, researchers discovered that subcutaneous fat burns faster with responsible exposure to the UV rays of the sun.
  • Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an increase in visceral abdominal fat according to a study published in the Anticancer Research journal.
  • Universidad Complutense, a university in Madrid, compared two sets of females to determine the link between a diet high in vitamin D and weight loss. Those given foods enriched with the vitamin lost as much as three times more weight overall.
  • Several scientific investigations have found a direct connection between insulin resistance and diabetes and low amounts of vitamin D – which result in weight gain. Sunlight helps balance insulin and glucose levels naturally.
  • As our vitamin D increases, so does testosterone – a naturally hormone that burns fat and contributes to lean muscle mass. It also fights depression and boosts your immune system.

What has your experience been? Do you find yourself slimming down in the summer without much effort? I personally always feel better when I’m getting daily sun, and take Vitamin D3 in the winter to combat the cloudy blues.

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2 Comments

Kenessi

Reply
I love all your blog articles. this just further shows how the sun is indeed good for you. I walk every morning at 9am with my 2 kids for us all to get some sun and I always feel energized after.

Brie

Reply
Hi Olivia, I have been dealing with extremely low Vitamin D levels. My doctor has me taking a Vit D supplement, but no real change in my numbers. Do you have any recommendations on supplement therapy, food, and any other information for those if us with a Vitamin D deficiency? Thank you for counting to empower us to be our best selfs, inside and out. Regards, Brie

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