The answer is vitamin D. But can it really help you lose weight and what is the best source of vitamin D? Direct sunlight is the best source of vitamin D. But should you or shouldn’t you get direct sunlight? We need Vitamin D; however vitamin D is not really a vitamin. In its active form it is considered a hormone. Our bodies can make it from sunlight. Its primary function is to help the body absorb calcium and phosphorous which the body needs to build and maintain strong bones. Vitamin D has also been shown to possess anti-cancer properties, as well as affect our biorhythms, moods and behavior. Spend a few days in a cloudy environment and watch how your mood changes. Sunlight and thus vitamin D seem to lift the soul, as well as strengthen the body and enhance our moods. A dose of sunshine is truly a body, mind and soulful boost.
Humankind evolved under natural sunlight, which means that we require a certain amount of natural light to keep us healthy. The problem is that we all use sunscreen to protect us from the sun’s unhealthy rays, blocking out this source of vitamin D. In addition, if we do get our fifteen minutes of natural sunlight it is usually in the morning or afternoon and at this time the sun’s rays are not powerful enough to produce enough vitamin D. So in addition to getting sunlight we need to add vitamin D to our diet.
How does D help us to maintain and even lose weight? Well vitamin D can’t do it alone. It’s not the magic bullet. To begin with to lose and maintain your weight, you need to eat a healthy diet and exercise. If you also add foods rich in D to your diet you might get an extra boost.
Here’s how it works; vitamin D helps receptors in your brain keep hunger and cravings in check, as well as boost levels of the mood elevating neurochemical serotonin. Vitamin D also helps the body to absorb calcium. When the body lacks calcium, it may experience up to a fivefold increase in the enzyme fatty acid synthase. This enzyme converts calories into fat. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, reported that obese women given 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day lost six times more weight than women who dieted alone. By fueling your body with vitamin D, you absorb more calcium, kick start the fat burning process and could potentially lose more weight, as well as protect your body from harmful cancer cells.
So what foods should you eat? The richest source is fatty fish oils and saltwater fish such as sea bass, halibut, swordfish, herring, tuna and cod. Salmon is also a good source of both calcium and D. Dairy products that have been fortified with Vitamin D are a great source. For supplements, I use VIACTIV, a calcium plus D soft chew. I like the caramel.
Overdosing on anything is harmful. Up to 1000 IU a day of vitamin D appears to be safe. Add fish or dairy to your daily diet and about fifteen minutes of sunlight and you will have the right mix to keep you healthy and fit. After my workout I always eat Greek yogurt to insure I get the protein and calcium I need to replenish my body. I add a few minutes of natural sunshine, take my Vitamin D supplement and try to eat fish a few times a week.
Remember there is no quick fix when it comes to weight loss and management. A well thought- out complimentary plan such as a healthy diet and daily exercise always have been and always will be, the best course of action when it comes to your weight management and your health. But if you add a little sunshine to your day you might just drop that extra five!
Originally published at medium.com