Vitamin D plays an interesting role in may aspects of human health. It plays a role in disease prevention including osteoporosis, some cancers, autoimmune disorders, hypertension, diabetes and has recently been found to effect weight loss.
What is Vitamin D? It is an oil-soluble (fat-soluble) vitamin that helps in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the intestine and suppresses parathyroid hormone (PTH), the hormone that stimulates bone resorption (breakdown). Vitamin D also plays a role in muscle function and in the immune system, but our understanding in these roles are still limited. (1)
Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish, cod-liver oil and eggs. In the United States, cow’s milk is supplemented with Vitamin D and this is often the source from which most people obtain it. Deficiency in Vitamin D often occurs from lack of sun exposure, inadequate intake, surgery to or damage of the intestines ability to absorb, or from kidney or liver damage resulting in problems processing Vitamin D. Recent studies reveal that obesity is a major factor in altering the way the body uses Vitamin D and stimulates PTH.
I find that about 30-40% of my patients are Vitamin D deficient. Many researches claim this is due to poor sun exposure or the use of sun screens, however, I live in Arizona. Sun “over exposure” is usually the problem here, yet I still find that 30-40% of my patients are deficient. My patients should be able to get enough sunlight walking from their cars to the grocery store entrance. I disagree that “lack of sun exposure is the cause.” Although our current labs claim vitamin D levels should be above 20 ng/dl, I find people do not get the needed effect until 25 Hydroxy-Vitamin D levels should are greater than 32-35 ng/dl.
Poor Vitamin D intake is usually the problem.
Our bodies convert 25 Hydroxy-Vitamin D into the active molecule 1,25 Dihydroxy-Vitamin D. Recent studies reveal that higher Body Mass Index (BMI) leads to lower conversion of 25 Hydroxy-Vitamin D to 1,25 Dihydroxy-Vitamin D. (2,3)
Simply adding 25 Hydroxy-Vitamin D as a supplement frequently helps with weight management in many of my patients. Supplementation with 1000-2000 IU is often adequate. Higher doses should be discussed with your doctor.
1. C P Earthman, L M Beckman, K Masodkar and S D Sibley. The link between obesity and low circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations: considerations and implications.International Journal of Obesity (2012) 36, 387–396; doi:10.1038/ijo.2011.119; published online 21 June 2011.
2. Frost M, Abrahamsen B, Nielsen TL, Hagen C, Andersen M, Brixen K. Vitamin D status and PTH in young men: a cross-sectional study on associations with bone mineral density, body composition and glucose metabolism. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf) 2010; 73: 573–580.
3. Konradsen S, Ag H, Lindberg F, Hexeberg S, Jorde R. Serum 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D is inversely associated with body mass index. Eur J Nutr 2008;47: 87–91.
While on the 2014 Low-Carb Cruise a few weeks ago, I had the wonderful pleasure of being interviewed by “N=1 Health‘s” Howard Harkness. We had very nice conversation and discussed a number of topics relating to obesity medicine, weight loss, carbohydrate restriction and some of the history of medicine. Take a look at the interview here on N=1 Health.
Have you been under a great deal of stress lately? Have you been struggling with your finances? With your job? Do you have ongoing struggles in your personal relationships? Are you carrying a heavy load in school?
If you’re in the woods and you stumble upon a bear, the sudden recognition of significant danger (you recognize that those extra few donuts will make you quite the tasty treat for the bear) will stimulate and immediate release of protective hormones into your blood stream including adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline increased your heart rate, dilates the blood vessels to your muscles and increases your respiratory rate. Cortisol is the hormone that stimulates increased glycogen release from the liver. Glycogen is a form of sugar made available so that you can immediately fight the bear or run from the bear, and the glycogen response raises your insulin level so that that fuel can be pulled right into the cells needing it. The adrenalin and cortisol, among other hormones, are released so that blood can be shunted from your stomach and intestines to your muscles and brain to more effectively enable you to finish fighting the bear, or out run that drooling growling bear hot on your heels.
Most of us will never “stumble across a bear,” however, your boss may confront you about how you handled a recent assignment or may drop an extra pile of work on your desk. You may run short on your finances this month, have a serious disagreement with your significant other, or someone may cut you off in traffic causing a near accident. Any or all of these stimulate the identical “fight or flight” response. Whether the bear or the traffic, the same adrenalin and cortisol response occurs.
How does that keep you from loosing weight? The elevated cortisol causes a cascade effect raising your insulin levels. Insulin will remain effectively elevated in the blood stream for the next 4-12 hours. Insulin is the primary hormone driving and stimulating weight gain. If you’ve had 2 or 3 stressful events throughout the day, and you have not had the opportunity to burn off these stress response hormones, your body will store and/or continue to gain weight throughout the entire day. If you have been trying to loose weight, the spike in insulin halts the weight burning process and may actually bump you out of ketosis (the process by which we burn fat as the primary fuel source) for the next 4-12 hours.
How do you prevent this from happening? A simple 15-20 minute walk 3-5 times per week is enough to decrease the stress hormone surge that occurs from a “fight or flight” response. Any regular exercise program will decrease these stress hormones. Adequate sleep also decreases these hormones.
So, if your job is stressful, incorporating an exercise program as simple as a daily walk for 15-20 minutes per day will keep the proverbial “bear in the woods” from catching up to you because of your weight.
Mother’s Day is a great event in our home, and traditionally, it is a chance to make breakfast for Mom.
Mom’s Cream Cheese Waffles:
My amazing wife, among her many talents, makes a wonderful low carb cheese cake. She has taken the recipe found in Maria Emmerich’s “Secret Weight Loss Recipes” and modified it to our family’s taste. It has quickly become one of my family’s favorites.
|Low Carb Cheesecake = 1 gram carb per serving
Individual spring-form serving pans