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Need 40 to 80 ng of vitamin D to lose weight – Colgan Sept 2013

Vitamin D against Overweight, Dr Michael Colgan Facebook Sept 2013

When I write about different nutrients and lifestyle factors that regulate body fat, I get a few folk writing back saying that overeating or processed carbs, or couch surfing, are the main causes. Of course they are. If you follow Miss Piggy’s advice to, “Never eat anything bigger than your head”, you’re going to be fat as a porker.

But we have hundreds of folk through the Colgan Institute who are trying their best to lose fat, sticking to good nutrition and exercise that would lean most of us down to a rail. Yet the fat, especially belly fat, just hangs on. In these articles, I give you the factors backed by the most robust science, that we use to get them over the hump. I like to keep articles short, down to 5 or 6 main studies, but this time, just for once, I will cite a bit more of the latest evidence than usual, just to let folk know that we know what we are doing. It’s certainly the case with vitamin D.

Both clinical and epidemiological studies show that obese individuals have low vitamin D status(2–7) and often vitamin D deficiency.(8,9). The lower the level of serum vitamin D, the higher the Body Mass Index (BMI), the higher the level of body fat, the higher the level of visceral fat, and the porkier the waist.(10-14) No doubt about it.
Low vitamin D status also leads to development of insulin resistance in both adults(15,16,17) and children(18,19). Even In healthy adults, low serum vitamin D levels predict higher BMI and higher body fat. (20)

Recent genomic science shows that white fat cells (the usual kind) are a direct target of vitamin D, which inhibits formation of new fat cells and regulates fat cell activity.(21, 22).

Increased dietary vitamin D intake, and increases in serum vitamin D, result in lower visceral fat (in women). (23). And a recent double-blind study, showed that dietary supplementation with calcium and vitamin D for 16 weeks resulted in considerable reductions of visceral fat in both overweight and obese adults(24).

In agreement with a number of vitamin D experts, our report on Vitamin D reviews a mass of recent studies showing that a large proportion of the populations of both the US and Canada are deficient in this essential nutrient.(1)

We review numerous studies indicating that the serum range of vitamin D needed to overcome this problem is 100-200 nmol/L.(1) The range of dietary vitamin D required to bring blood levels into this range in the US and Canada is 2,000-4,000 IU per day.(1)
Most folk living at southern latitudes (more sunlight), or who have white skins (make more vitamin D per hour of sun exposure), require the lower end of this range. Most folk who live at northern latitudes, or have dark skins, require the higher end of the range.(1)

The main dietary sources of vitamin D are sunlight on bare skin, and oily fish. Supplementation with OIL-FILLED VITAMIN D3 CAPSULES, (not tablets, or vitamin D in multi-vitamins) is also an effective way to raise serum vitamin D levels.

Low vitamin D status is an important factor in overweight. Many people who are trying unsuccessfully to lose fat may benefit greatly from getting their vitamin D levels checked, and, if low, correcting them. May the vitamin D force be with you.


  • 1. Colgan M. The Sun Will Save Your Life. Vancouver: The Colgan Institute 2010.
  • 2. Bell NH, et al. (1985) Evidence for alteration of the vitamin D-endocrine system in obese subjects. J Clin Invest 76, 370–373.
  • 3. Wortsman J, et al. (2000) Decreased bioavailability of vitamin D in obesity. Am J Clin Nutr 72, 690–693.
  • 4. Parikh SJ, et al. (2004) The relationship between obesity and serum 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D concentrations in healthy adults. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 89, 1196–1199.
  • 5. Snijder MB, , et al. (2005) Adiposity in relation to vitamin D status and parathyroid hormone levels: a population-based study in older men and women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 90, 4119–4123.
  • 6. Botella-Carretero JI, et al. (2007) Vitamin D deficiency is associated with the metabolic syndrome in morbid obesity. Clin Nutr 26, 573–580.
  • 7. Goldner WS, et al. (2008) Prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency in morbidly obese patients: a comparison with non-obese controls. Obes Surg 18, 145–150.
  • 8. Khandalavala BN, et al. (2010) Prevalence and persistence of vitamin D deficiency in biliopancreatic diversion patients: a retrospective study. Obes Surg 20, 881–884.
  • 9. Fish E, et al. (2010) Vitamin D status of morbidly obese bariatric surgery patients. J Surg Res 164 198–202.
  • 10. Ford ES, et al. (2005) Concentrations of serum vitamin D and the metabolic syndrome among U.S. adults. Diabetes Care 28, 1228–1230.
  • 11. Konradsen S, et al. (2008) Serum 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D is inversely associated with body mass index. Eur J Nutr 47, 87–91.
  • 12. Cheng S, et al. (2010) Adiposity cardiometabolic risk, and vitamin D status: the Framingham Heart Study. Diabetes 59, 242–248.
  • 13. Rajakumar K, et al. (2011) Vitamin D status, adiposity, and lipids in black American and Caucasian children. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 96, 1560–1567.
  • 14. Jorde R, et al. (2010) Cross-sectional and longitudinal relation between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and body mass index: the Tromso study. Eur J Nutr 49, 401–407.
  • 15. Chiu KC, et al. (2004) Hypovitaminosis D is associated with insulin resistance and beta cell dysfunction. Am J Clin Nutr 79, 820–825.
  • 16. Gannage´-Yared M-H, et al. (2009) Vitamin D in relation to metabolic risk factors, insulin sensitivity and adiponectin in a young middle-eastern population. Eur J Endocrinol 160, 965–971.
  • 17. Scragg R, et al. (1995) Serum 25 hydroxyvitamin D3 levels decreased in impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes mellitus. Diabetes Res Clin Pract 27, 181–188.
  • 18. Parikh S, et al. (2012) Circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations are correlated with cardiometabolic risk among American Black and White adolescents living in a year-round sunny climate. Diabetes Care,1133–1138.
  • 19. Olson ML, et al. (2012) Vitamin D deficiency in obese children and its relationship to glucose homeostasis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 97, 279–285..
  • 20. Frost M, et al. (2010) Vitamin status and PTH in young men: a cross-sectional study on associations with bone mineral density, body composition and glucose metabolism. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf) 73,573–580.
  • 21. Ching S, et al. (2011) Mammary adipocytes bioactivate 25-hydroxyvitamin D and signal via vitamin D receptor, modulating mammary epithelial cell growth. J Cell Biochem 112, 3393–3405.
  • 22. Wong KE, et al. (2011) Targeted expression of human vitamin D receptor in adipocytes decreases energy expenditure and induces obesity in mice. J Biol Chem 286, 33804–33810.
  • 23. Caron-Jobin M, et al. (2011) Elevated serum 25(OH)D concentrations, vitamin D, and calcium intakes are associated with reduced adipocyte size in women. Obesity (Silver Spring) 19, 1335–1341.
  • 24. Rosenblum JL, et al. (2012) Calcium and vitamin D supplementation is associated with decreased abdominal visceral adipose tissue in overweight and obese adults. Am J Clin Nutr 95, 101–108.

See also VitaminDWiki