When undergoing a weight management program, one of the first steps might be to check vitamin D levels. Oftentimes, people who need to lose weight simultaneously experience low energy, which may actually be a symptom of blood sugar dysregulation. And, according to some researchers, vitamin D may provide support for helping regulate blood sugars.
A new study shows that vitamin D plays a very important role in energy production. The research looked at energy production at the cellular level, in the mitochondria. Blood cells (peripheral blood mononuclear cells, or PBMCs) from 38 subjects with body fat ranging from 14-51% were evaluated. A multivariate general linear model adjusted for age, fat mass, fat-free mass, parathyroid hormone and insulin sensitivity was used. Therefore, the results were valid regardless of age, fat mass, lean mass, parathyroid hormone issues or insulin insensitivity. The researchers concluded, “Inadequate vitamin D status adversely influenced bioenergetic parameters of PBMCs obtained from adults, in a pattern consistent with increased oxidative metabolism and activation of these cells.”
In another study, the researchers concluded, “Vitamin D may prove to be a therapeutic agent for inflammation of chronic disease and understanding its role in cellular bioenergetics may offer a diagnostic/prognostic indicator of its action.”
The link between vitamin D and energy is supported by other research, which shows that vitamin D status and insulin insensitivity can predict resting metabolic rate. Resting metabolic rate is responsible for 2/3 of energy expenditure in sedentary individuals. If you are trying to lose weight, boosting the amount of energy you burn at rest is a good start, and vitamin D can help you to do that. Of the 127 subjects, 41 were deficient in vitamin D, and 75 were evaluated to have metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome (sometimes called "syndrome X") is the name for a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke. These risk factors include: a large waistline, high triglycerides, low HDL ("good") cholesterol, high LDL ("bad") cholesterol, high blood pressure and high fasting blood sugar. Both metabolic syndrome and vitamin D deficiency had a negative effect on resting metabolic rate.
Vitamin D status improves in summer because of more exposure to the sun. Levels of vitamin D increase in the summertime. Not surprisingly, research shows cellular metabolism also increases, and inflammation decreases.
Inflammation is important when it comes to weight control. Inflammation can lead to leaky gut and contribute to insulin resistance. Markers of systemic inflammation MCP-1, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, and IL-12p70 decreased significantly in summer compared to winter. The researchers concluded, “Seasonal improvements in 25(OH)D were associated with reduced systemic inflammation, PBMC bioenergetic profiles and whole-body energy metabolism. These observational changes in PBMC bioenergetics were most pronounced in those who had insufficient 25(OH)D in winter. The data warrants confirmation through cause and effect study designs.” Glutathione, a major water-soluble antioxidant in the body, also helps to control inflammation. It may also be linked to vitamin D status. Supplementation with vitamin D can help increase glutathione levels, according to research. The link between vitamin D and glutathione was further explored in other research where supplementation with L-cysteine and vitamin D both increased glutathione and decreased vitamin D binding protein.
Further research has also linked vitamin D status to weight loss. Deficiency may be linked to metabolic syndrome through inflammatory pathways. Vitamin D has an anti-inflammatory effect; it can increase IL-10 and decrease TNF alpha, among other changes in inflammatory markers. Research suggests that vitamin D deficiency-induced insulin resistance is possibly caused by oxidative stress in hepatocytes. Because obesity and inflammation are strongly linked, the studies showing that vitamin D can decrease inflammatory markers helps boost the correlation between vitamin D levels and healthy weight management. In addition to helping support bone and cardiovascular health, vitamin D helps regulate healthy blood sugar levels and promotes healthy inflammatory pathways, both instrumental in any weight management program.