March 13, 2009

Lack of vitamin D may be linked to obesity

Too little vitamin D may lead to fatter adolescents, researchers at the Medical College of Georgia said.

The researchers studied more than 650 teens age 14-19 and found that those who reported higher vitamin D intakes had lower overall body fat and lower amounts of the fat in the abdomen -- known as visceral fat -- which has been associated with health risks such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and hypertension.

Black females, who had the lowest vitamin D intake, had higher percentages of both body fat and visceral fat, while black males had the lowest percentages of body and visceral fat, even though their vitamin D intake was below the recommended levels.

Only one group -- white male teens -- was getting the recommended minimum intake of vitamin D.

This study was a cross-section so, while it cannot prove that higher intake of vitamin D caused the lower body fat, we know there is a relationship that needs to be explored further, Dr. Yanbin Dong said in a statement.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends adolescents get at least 400 units of vitamin D per day -- either from milk or sun exposure. There are typically 100 units in one 8-ounce glass of whole milk.