Vitamin D in short supply
Researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre in Dallas investigated the vitamin D status of a cross section of youngsters, 6-16 years old, seeking treatment at their Centre. The study included 411 obese kids attending the obesity clinic and 87 normal weight children, who were being treated for a range of other conditions.
On the whole vitamin D levels were on the “low” side for all of the children, but the obese kids showed poorer vitamin D status overall.
92 % of the obese children were insufficient, compared to 68 % of the normal weight children. Vitamin D deficiency was found in 46 % of the obese children, versus 22 % of the normal weight controls.
NOTE : The cut off points are still a matter of debate. The researchers considered a serum value below 30 ng/mL to be low. A value below 20 ng/mL was considered to be deficient.
Missing vitamin D more than a co-incidence ?
There is a growing awareness of a connection between vitamin D levels and obesity.
It is still a little unclear whether low vitamin D levels cause obesity or whether obesity, causes low vitamin D levels.
The idea that low vitamin D level causes obesity, comes from research which correlates vitamin D levels with environmental conditions. As colder weather sets in, vitamin D levels drop, due to the fall in UV-B radiation as the sun loses its punch. The fall in vitamin D levels serves to programme the body to store additional fat. Additional fat reserves enable the body to withstand the frigid temperatures and food shortages likely to be encountered in the dead of winter.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, since fat cells are full of fat, the vitamin D tends to become trapped inside the fat cells, supporting the idea that obesity causes low vitamin D levels.
Missing vitamin D contributing to the problem
It probably doesn’t really matter which comes first – the point is, too little vitamin D adds to the health woes of the obese.
When the vitamin D status of the children enrolled in this study were measured against their level of insulin resistance, the researchers found kids with the lowest vitamin D levels showed significantly greater insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a precursor for a range of health problems beyond obesity, most notably type 2 diabetes.
Fix the vitamin D “problem”
Low vitamin D levels are likely to be short changing health in overweight kids.
Fixing the vitamin D levels is not a magic formula that will melt away those extra pounds, but it a problem that can easily be fixed, and fixing it, is likely to improve overall health.
A simple, relatively inexpensive blood test can be used to assess vitamin D status.
The sunshine fix
Encourage your little hefa lump to play outdoors regularly. When you send him or her out the house for their dose of vitamin D, send them out ala natural i.e. only cover their private bits and leave the sun tan lotion off for the first 15-20 minutes.
If you or junior abhors the sun, or the sun has migrated, then “fix” the problem by getting your sunshine from a bottle, take a vitamin D3 supplement. Keep an eye on the vitamin D levels through regular check ups. You can’t overdo the sun, but you can overdo a synthetic pill.Olson ML, et al “Vitamin D deficiency in obese children and its relationship to glucose homeostasis” JCEM 2012.
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