You might think of vitamin D as being crucial for strong bones and possibly for protecting you against cancer or diabetes, but this nutrient has a few more tricks up its sleeve. Nicknamed the sunshine vitamin (your body can only manufacture it when sunlight hits your skin), vitamin D looks like it may be the key to keeping your belly trim. (If you’re considering vitamin D supplements, read this first.)
According to a presentation at the European Society of Endocrinology meeting in Barcelona, people with low levels of vitamin D tend to have much more belly fat. The researchers tapped the roughly 7,000 people in a Netherlands Epidemiology of Obesity study to arrive at their results. They found that the people with the highest levels of abdominal fat had the lowest levels of vitamin D. Lead researcher Rachida Rafiq of VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam said in a press release, “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.”
While the study only points to a link between body fat and D, experts speculate that low vitamin D levels may be linked to weight gain. Medical News Today reports that increasing your intake of vitamin D may help eliminate belly fat. In individuals with Type 2 diabetes, insufficient vitamin D levels can make matters worse by interfering with insulin and blood sugar tolerance. Adding more vitamin D to your diet—through supplements or fortified foods like milk and breakfast cereal—may protect against a number of conditions. These are the vitamin D-rich foods you should add to your diet.
The links between obesity and vitamin D deficiency are growing, according to Rafiq, but “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,” she said. Next, check out these other simple ways to blast belly fat in a single day.