Vitamin D Deficiency More Likely To Occur In Obese Individuals
February 6, 2013

Vitamin D Deficiency More Likely To Occur In Obese Individuals

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Vitamin D is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, helping to build strong bones and stave off rickets. A new study has shown that there may be a deficiency of this vitamin in people who are obese.

According to this research, published in the journal PLoS Medicine, obese individuals are more likely to have such a deficiency, potentially weakening their bones and placing further stress on their skeletal systems.

The study, led by Dr Elina Hypponen with the University College London's Institute of Child Health (ICH), aimed to discover the connection between vitamin D deficiencies and weight gain. Dr Hypponen and team analyzed genetic markers from 42,000 participants, looking for a link between Body Mass Index (BMI) and a person´s genetic ability to synthesize and metabolize vitamin D.

Once the team had these results in hand, they confirmed them using data from an even larger pool of participants comprised of 123,000 people.

According to their research, a 10 percent increase in BMI can lead to a 4 percent drop in vitamin D concentrations in the body. These numbers were consistent across both genders and all age groups. All told, Dr Hypponen and team found that higher BMIs lead to a vitamin D deficiency, rather than vice versa. In fact, the team found that a lack of vitamin D had a very small effect on BMI, if any.

“Vitamin D deficiency is an active health concern around the world. While many health messages have focused on a lack of sun exposure or excessive use of suncreams, we should not forget that vitamin D deficiency is also caused by obesity,” said Dr Hypponen in a statement, explaining the research.

“Our study highlights the importance of monitoring and treating vitamin D deficiency in people who are overweight or obese, in order to alleviate adverse health effects caused by a lack of vitamin D,” she added.

According to the research, the excessive amount of fat which accompanies obesity is to blame for the vitamin D deficiency.

According to data on a NIH website, vitamin D is found in foods such as dairy products, eggs, fish and even mushrooms. Our bodies also make vitamin D when our skin is directly exposed to the sun. This vitamin D not only strengthens our bones, but also boosts our immune systems and builds muscle.

Though Vitamin D is found in all cells, it is also stored in fatty tissues throughout the body. Therefore, when a person has an excess of fatty tissue, vitamin D gets stuck in the fat and is unable to circulate to the rest of the body.

Previous research has found a connection between vitamin D deficiencies and obesity, but Dr Hypponen´s research is the first to determine how these two are connected.

It had also been suggested that obesity could result from excessive adaptive winter response. After several months of staying indoors and out of the cold, our bodies have received far less sunlight than other, warmer points in the year. As such, we absorb less vitamin D and, according to this previous theory, are more likely to see our BMIs increase.

Recent research has also found that larger doses of vitamin D may boost the amount of energy burned, though this research was unable to find a link between increased amounts of vitamin D and weight loss.