Low vitamin D levels have long been tied to malnourishment and resultant health problems such as rickets that involve weak bones. But what is surprising to many is that recent research on vitamin D has found that most people are deficient in vitamin D. In particular, those with dark skin such as African-Americans are at particularly high risk for low levels of vitamin D and a wide range of common health problems including obesity, diabetes, asthma, autism, and depression that research is showing are likely related to insufficient vitamin D.
Vitamin D Deficiency Epidemic Tied to Obesity and Diabetes Epidemics
The mainstream media has been reporting lately on Michella Obama’s efforts to improve nutrition for kids. She is focusing on reducing calorie-laden foods such as soft-drinks and fast-food, increasing the consumption of healthier foods such as vegetables, and getting kids to trade in some of their sedentary activities such as watching TV for exercise. Yet she and her associates appear to be paying little attention to the widespread vitamin D deficiency epidemic that is increasingly being tied to the epidemics of obesity and diabetes.
Are you one of the majority of Americans who are overweight or obese? It might interest you to know that the growing mountain of vitamin D research showing that your health will suffer if you don’t get enough vitamin D now includes research that ties increased vitamin D blood serum levels to improved success at weight loss during diets.
This data is from a small study of 38 obese individuals undergoing an 11 week long weight loss program. Obviously replication in larger groups and in other studies would help firm up the conclusions. However, intriguingly the amount of weight lost during the 11 week diet was predictable based upon vitamin D blood serum levels in a very consistent fashion.
The researchers believe there is a predictable pattern here despite the small study size. For each 1 ng/mL higher vitamin D in blood serum, the dieter lost about half a pound more weight. Further, the higher vitamin D levels correlated with more abdominal weight loss. Researchers suspect that vitamin D may help the body metabolize fat more effectively. While more studies are needed to fully understand the exact mechanism of the increase fat loss induced by higher vitamin D levels, it’s not premature to be advising that people need to be increasing and/or monitoring their vitamin D intake more carefully to improve their health.
Given the widespread prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, few side effects from vitamin D supplements, and the low cost of those supplements, anybody intent on losing weight and body fat should be sure to bump up their vitamin D intake to attain optimal vitamin D levels. If you’re willing to spend money on diet books, Weight Watchers classes, low-calorie meals, etc. then you shouldn’t hesitate at the small annual cost (well less than $100 for most adults) of vitamin D supplementation and periodic vitamin D blood tests to verify you are getting optimal nutrition.