Being obese can cause a deficiency in vitamin D. Vitamin D, a nutrient that helps the body absorb calcium, is essential for healthy bones. However, a new study shows that, while obese people tend to have lower levels of vitamin D, boosting vitamin D levels in the blood does not necessarily lead to weight loss.
In other words, while obese people can suffer the consequences of vitamin D deficiency, adding more of the important vitamin will not necessarily reverse the weight issue.
Even though adding vitamin D to the diet may not be a quick fix for weight loss, it is still important that obese people know if they lack to important vitamin or not. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Other potential symptoms of deficiency are cognitive impairment, severe asthma in children, and even cancer.
The study, published in the February issue of PLOS Medicine, examined the correlation between obesity and vitamin D. According to researchers, for every 10 percent increase in body-mass index (BMI), a person can have a 4.2 percent drop in vitamin D blood levels. BMI measures a person’s body fat based on height and weight.
A 2009 study cited that three-fourths of Americans are deficient in vitamin D. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 35.7 percent are obese.
In the study — in which genetic data was collected and analyzed from more than 42,000 people — researchers found that people with a genetic predisposition for being heavier “tended to have genes” related to lower levels of vitamin D.
Because of this genetic predisposition, people who are genetically predisposed to being obese are also predisposed to lower vitamin D levels regardless of how much vitamin D they get.
Of course, having a genetic predisposition for obesity does not mean that a person is destined to be obese. Diet and exercise, along with other factors, also play a vital role.
But just as those with a genetic predisposition to be obese need to take extra care with their weight management, those with the predisposition to have a vitamin D deficiency need to take special care making sure they get enough.
“Obese individuals need to be mindful they are likely to be vitamin D deficient,” said study author Elina Hyppönen, a reader of epidemiology and public health at the University College London Institute of Child Health. “If you lower your BMI or reduce your body fat, then your vitamin D status probably will get higher.”
The study also found that obesity linked to vitamin D deficiency is a one way street: Obesity affected levels of vitamin D, but vitamin D had no effect on obesity.
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