A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition indicates that the overweight can benefit from testing their vitamin D levels. Low levels of this vitamin are linked to heart disease, diabetes, and even some kinds of cancer.
Researchers in Oslo, Norway measured vitamin D blood levels in nearly 1800 people who were being treated for problems related to weight. Individuals who weighed the most had the lowest levels of vitamin D in their blood. The researchers also determined that levels of vitamin D decrease in winter months for everyone.
There are many possible reasons for this lack of vitamin D in the overweight and the obese. Many such individuals are on restricted diets, thereby reducing or even eliminating many of the foods that naturally contain vitamin D. Sunlight is another source of vitamin D, which could explain the lower vitamin D levels in test subjects during winter months. But less exposure to the sun does not explain why those with weight problems lose vitamin D at other times of the year.
The question remains: do people gain weight because vitamin D levels are too low, or does being overweight cause a person’s vitamin D level to decrease? Other studies are being conducted to determine exactly how and why overweight and obese individuals are losing so much vitamin D.
In the meantime, it is known that vitamin D is important in lowering the risk of heart disease, hypertension, and strokes. This vitamin is also necessary to strengthen bones and fight infections, including many forms of cancer, multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases. Some experts speculate that it would even be beneficial in assisting weight loss goals. Many physicians are coming around to the idea that most people need far more vitamin D than they are getting.
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