With up to 1 in 3 Aussies having low Vitamin D at this time of year, it is a significant health issue in Australia. Low Vitamin D is associated with a wide range of health issues, and research presented at the European Society of Endocrinology in 2018 reported an association between low Vitamin D levels and higher amounts of dreaded belly fat.
So, how can you keep on top of your own Vitamin D levels and could popping a pill help us to burn off the unwanted love handles this winter?
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin which is produced in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. We also get some Vitamin D, roughly 10 per cent, directly from our diet via a small handful of foods including oily fish, egg yolk and a few fortified dairy foods.
Despite Australia being a relatively sunny country, the increasing amount of time we spend indoors in the cooler months combined with the small amounts of vitamin D we get from our diet means many of us are just not getting enough.
The issue with this is that the small amount of vitamin D we do need plays key roles in a large number of bodily functions. This includes keeping our bones healthy, regulating mood and even helping to prevent heart disease and some types of cancer.
It has also been known for some time that vitamin D appears to play a role in weight control with obese individuals more likely to have low vitamin D levels. Now, low Vitamin D also appears to be specifically linked to belly fat.
The link to belly fat
A large study conducted in the Netherlands of 7,000 people identified that the participants with the most belly fat also had the lowest Vitamin D levels, suggesting that those who do carry belly fat may have an increased risk of having low Vitamin D.
As vitamin D also plays a role in blood glucose and insulin control, it appears that the mix of low vitamin D along with extra belly fat is doing nothing to help us with the hormones that control fat metabolism and weight gain long term.
So, is vitamin D the key to blasting belly fat for good?
The study reported was observational only and as such as we do not know if consuming more Vitamin D, either via our food and/or via supplementation will in turn help to reduce belly fat, but it is definitely worth a try.
Winter in Australia is notorious for causing clinically low Vitamin D levels, which may be directly or indirectly influencing your ability to burn through and rid yourself of belly fat.
What you should do
The first thing to do at this time of year is to have your vitamin D levels checked via a blood test. Signs and symptoms of low vitamin D include fatigue, muscle soreness, mood swings and low immunity. So, if you are rarely exposed to sunlight during the middle of the day, have a history of low vitamin D levels and/or dark skin, it will be well worth having your levels checked.
Next, boost up your oral intake of vitamin D with fortified milk, plenty of nutrient rich eggs and oily fish such as salmon or sardines, at least 2-3 times each week.
Finally, if your levels are low or diagnosed as such, start some oral vitamin D supplements daily to get your levels within normal range ASAP. And you just may find that your belly fat benefits as a result.