- Kelin M
Vitamin D for Weight Loss: the Best Supplements of 2021
Updated: Nov 10, 2021
Are you unexpectedly gaining weight, or having trouble losing those last few pounds?
It could be vitamin D.
There are a lot of reasons to get outside and get some sunshine, but recent studies have shown that could include your weight.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a critical fat-soluble micronutrient that your body produces in response to sun exposure. It can also be found in vitamin D-rich foods or supplements.
Unfortunately, as much as 50% of the population is deficient. The reasons deficiency is so common include both lifestyle (like extra time indoors in our modern lifestyles) and environmental (like air pollution).
Vitamin D helps keep your bones and heart healthy, improves your mood, and boosts your immunity. It helps prevent chronic disease. Research continues to confirm one other benefit: it can help you lose weight.
Best Supplements for Weight Loss
Keep reading to learn how vitamin D can help you lose weight, how much to take, and why we chose these recommendations. Here's the roundup of our favorites:
Best overall: Why Not Natural D3/K2
Best chewable: Losers' Chews
Best for bariatric patients: BariMelts D3
Best whole food: Vitamin Code Raw D3
Best gummy: New Age D3
Best multivitamin: Setria Weight Loss Pills for Women
Best softgel: NatureWise D3
Does Vitamin D Increase Weightloss?
Increasing your vitamin D consumption won't make you shed extra pounds overnight, but the evidence shows that it plays a critical role in helping you manage your weight. Being overweight and low in vitamin D are directly connected. It affects your metabolism, your lean muscle mass, your sleep, and many other factors that are connected to your weight.
Does Vitamin D Help Lose Belly Fat?
One clinical trial that took place over 6 weeks on a group of 50 overweight and obese Iranian women gave half the women 50,000 IU of vitamin D. The weight, body mass index, waist circumference, and hip circumference of the women in the group given vitamin D decreased significantly compared with the group who did not supplement.
Another double-blind, randomized controlled clinical trial of overweight/obese postmenopausal women came to a similar conclusion. Women who supplemented with 2000 IU of vitamin D per day lost on average 7 lbs more than those with low vitamin D levels who did not supplement (and both groups followed weight loss protocol).
Studies suggest that low levels of vitamin D trigger the body to store extra energy (in the form of fat) as this may have been a survival adaptation from times of scarcity. A study of male ice hockey players showed that the lower the vitamin D levels, the higher their fat mass.
It's safe to say that if you're struggling to lose belly fat, you should have your vitamin D levels checked and consider supplementation.
How Obesity and Vitamin D are Connected
It's true that low vitamin D levels could impede weight loss, and the reverse is true as well: a large waistline puts you at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency (which can lead to negative overall health consequences). A report from the European Society of Endocrinology correlated large waistlines with increased likelihood of vitamin D deficiency.
The good news: losing weight can improve circulating vitamin D levels. Overweight and obese women who lose more than 15% of their body weight experience a dramatic improvement in the level of serum vitamin D in their body. Those who lost more weight had even more dramatic increases in vitamin D.
It's thought that the strong association between obesity and diseases like cancer and diabetes could, in fact, be due to low vitamin D levels. It's possible that supplementation could not only help these individuals lose weight, but also decrease their risk of disease.
Vitamin D Affects Your Hormones
Adequate vitamin D intake in men improves testosterone levels which assists with weight loss. Testosterone helps boost muscle mass, strength, flexibility, and the metabolism.
Vitamin D is also linked to serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is the "feel good" hormone, which can help you feel more motivated to exercise, eat healthy, and keep your appetite at bay.
Low Vitamin D is associated with poor sleep, and poor sleep can lead to weight gain as well. That's because poor sleep impacts your levels of ghrelin and leptin, which control your appetite. Being tired also makes it more difficult to get adequate physical activity.
Lean Muscle Mass, Bone Density, and Vitamin D
Consuming enough vitamin D leads to an increase in lean muscle mass when exercising, which improves the metabolism. Sufficient vitamin D intake also improves energy output when exercising.
Vitamin D also helps with muscle recovery, as muscles have vitamin D receptors. The heart is one such muscle: a study in Circulation Journal found that low vitamin D is a risk factor in cardiovascular disease.
Our Top 7 Vitamin D Supplements for Weight Loss
1. Best Overall: Why Not Natural D3-K2
Why we love it: Why Not Natural's formula has a whopping 10,000 IU per serving, making it excellent for reversing a deficiency. Instead of harmful fillers, they use nutrient-dense spirulina. On top of that, it includes K2 which is great for moving D3 where it needs to go.
What we don't love: This potency of vitamin D is not ideal for everyone, and is better for those with low vitamin D than those just trying to maintain.
2. Best Chewable: Losers' Chews
Why we love it: These contain 2000 IU of D3 per servings, plus a 15-strain probiotic blend and prebiotic fibers to give extra weight loss support.
What we don't love: Some of the additives are fillers and preservatives that are less-than-ideal. It's only 30 servings which makes it a little pricey. And for those with any type of gut issues, the sugar alcohols and prebiotics can be irritating.
3. Best for bariatric patients: BariMelts D3
Why we love it: This contains no artificial sweeteners and is a minimal, low-irritation formula that's perfect for bariatric patients. It has a solid 5000 IU per serving of vitamin D. Plus, the price is excellent.
What we don't love: We would love to see some added K2 for absorption, and you have to take 3 pills to get the promised dose which could be hard to get down.
4. Best whole food: Vitamin Code Raw D3
Why we love it: Vitamin Code's formula has a generous blend of fruits and vegetables and even the Vitamin D3 comes from a whole food source. On top of that, it has probiotics and enzymes, and a whole food lipid base (in other words, the fat-soluble vitamin is delivered in fat, making it easier to absorb).
What we don't love: If you're looking for a simple D3 or you have any kind of autoimmune or gut issues you'll want to stay away from this blend. It has a lot of ingredients = a lot of potential for irritation and/or medication interactions. As you'll notice from the negative reviews, this is also owned by Nestle, which is a downside to some people looking to support small business
5. Best gummy: New Age D3
Why we love it: This comes in a delicious gummy format, and has a generous 5000 IU of vitamin D3. The ingredients are pretty minimal and there's no artificial coloring, which is a huge plus!
What we don't love: It contains sugar, which could be counterproductive to those trying to lose weight. Customers describe the texture as grainy, so it may not be as candy-like as some people would like.
6. Best multivitamin: Setria Weight Loss Pills for Women
Why we love it: This has a number of proven beneficial ingredients to help weight loss. If you want to combine vitamin D with other metabolism boosters, this is a great choice, and it has a lot of raving fans.
What we don't love: It doesn't say which form of Vitamin D it contains and the quantity it contains isn't very high. There are several forms of caffeine in this which is almost guaranteed to make you jittery, so be sure to take this in the morning (interfering with your sleep is counterproductive to weight loss, not to mention unpleasant and unhealthy)!
7. Best softgel: NatureWise D3
Why we love it: This formula is free of many allergens such as gluten, diary, wheat, corn, and soy. It's easy to swallow and comes with a 1 year supply.
What we don't love: It's not a huge amount of D3 (2000 IU per serving- you'd need to take 5 of these pills to get the same amount as Why Not Natural's). The place of manufacturing is also unclear, but they are bottled in USA.
How Much Vitamin D to Take for Weight Loss
The National Institutes of Health recommend a dose of at least 600 IU per day for most adults.
You may need more or less than this dose depending on your body weight. One study suggests you should take 32-36 IU per pound (70-80 IU/kg). This is assuming you don't already have a deficiency; consult with your doctor for a recommendation if you are looking to improve rather than maintain your vitamin D level.