December 11, 2008

Lack of Vitamin D linked to weight gain

Insufficient vitamin D can stunt growth and foster weight gain during puberty -- even in sun-drenched California, Canadian and U.S. researchers said.

Scientists from the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles found vitamin D deficiency caused higher body mass and shorter stature in girls at the peak of their growing spurt.

The research team measured vitamin D levels in girls and women ages 16-22 using a simple blood test -- 25-hydroxy vitamin D. They also assessed body fat and height to determine how vitamin D deficiency could affect young women's health.

The researchers examined 90 Caucasian and Hispanic girls and discovered that young women with normal vitamin D levels were on average taller than peers deficient in vitamin D. Yet in contrast to what's been previously reported in older women, their investigation found no association between lack of vitamin D and bone strength.

The high prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in young people living in a sun-rich area was surprising, lead author Richard Kremer of the McGill University Health Centre said in a statement. We found young women with vitamin D insufficiency were significantly heavier, with a higher body mass index and increased abdominal fat, than young women with normal levels.

The finding was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.