Higher levels of vitamin D are linked to reduced belly fat, new research shows.
The conclusions come from a study including thousands of people.
The researchers measured people’s total body fat and abdominal (belly) fat, along with their vitamin D levels.
The results showed that for both men and women vitamin D deficiency was linked to increased belly fat.
However, for women, low vitamin D levels were linked to both increased belly fat and increased total body fat.
For men, though, low vitamin D levels were linked to more belly fat and more liver fat.
More than half of people around the world may be deficient in vitamin D.
Dr Rachida Rafiq, the study’s first author, said:
“Although we did not measure vitamin D deficiency in our study, the strong relationship between increasing amounts of abdominal fat and lower levels of vitamin D suggests that individuals with larger waistlines are at a greater risk of developing deficiency, and should consider having their vitamin D levels checked.”
It is not yet known if low vitamin D levels are causing more fat to be stored or are a result of it.
Dr Rafiq explained:
“Due to the observational nature of this study, we cannot draw a conclusion on the direction or cause of the association between obesity and vitamin D levels.
However, this strong association may point to a possible role for vitamin D in abdominal fat storage and function.”
Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune diseases and a higher chance of getting colds.
Foods that are rich in vitamin D include oily fish and eggs, but most people get their vitamin D from the action of sunlight on the skin.
That is why levels are typically lower in the body through the winter months in more Northern climes.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Clinical Nutrition (Rafiq et al., 2018).