Junk food and a lack of exercise may be the most obvious reasons for having a large waist, but a new study suggests one more factor that might surprise you. Researchers have discovered a strong connection between low levels of vitamin D and excess abdominal fat.
Obese men and women with higher levels of abdominal fat were found to be at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency, according to an analysis by two medical schools in the Netherlands. While the causal relationship is still unclear, some experts now suggest that anyone with a large waistline may need to have their vitamin D levels checked.
Even if you’re not obese, you may be struggling to trim your midsection and wondering if you’re consuming enough vitamin D. Take a look at this quick guide to help you protect your health.
Vitamin D deficiencies are widespread, affecting more than 40% of Americans according to some estimates. The consequences can include brittle bones, a weakened immune system, and certain heart conditions.
- Eat fish and eggs. Very few foods contain vitamin D naturally, but many are fortified with this important nutrient. Fatty fish and eggs yolks are especially beneficial because they contain a form of vitamin D that your body can use very effectively.
- Catch some sun. Vitamin D is a hormone as well as a vitamin, so your skin can make its own supply when it’s exposed to the sun. At the same time, some precautions are necessary. Depending on your sensitivity, 5 to 30 minutes of direct sun at least a few days a week may be adequate.
- Consider supplements. The quality and potency of supplements vary greatly among different brands so look for verification from the United States Pharmacopeia on the label to ensure it meets the highest standards.
- Understand your risks. Some adults need more vitamin D than others. That includes vegans, senior citizens, and people with darker skin.
Fat that gathers deep in your abdomen surrounding your organs is called visceral fat. It’s especially risky because it disrupts your hormones and increases your risk for diabetes and heart disease. The good news is that it’s relatively easy to lose with diet and exercise.
- Measure your waist. Your doctor can perform a simple blood test to give you the most accurate reading of your vitamin D levels. However, just measuring your waist can often tell you if you’re at risk. In general, you may want to speak with your doctor if you’re a man with a waistline over 40 inches or a woman with a waistline over 35 inches.
- Exercise regularly. An active lifestyle along with aerobic exercise and strength training will help to blast away fat. To lose weight, work out for at least 3 hours each week.
- Eat more fiber. Foods that are high in fiber will help you to shed fat and satisfy your hunger with fewer calories. Fill up on vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
- Sleep well. A lack of sleep can interfere with your metabolism and cause your body to retain more fat. Aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
Turn your spare tire into a six pack. Meeting your vitamin D requirements and maintaining a flat stomach will help you to enjoy a longer and healthier life. Stay active, eat well, and talk with your doctor about your individual concerns.