Monday, August 31, 2009

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. When fat individuals get vitamin D (whether from skin, food, or supplements) much of it gets squirreled away into fat stores rather than in circulation. As a result, fat people are far more likely to be vitamin D deficient than smaller folks.

This makes the paper Vitamin D Status and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in the United States Adolescent Population (from September 2009's Pediatrics) particularly interesting. It concludes:

Low serum vitamin D in US adolescents is strongly associated with hypertension, hyperglycemia, and metabolic syndrome, independent of adiposity.

I wonder how much of the supposed metabolic risk of being fat is really a result of vitamin D deficiency? The evidence is just emerging, so nobody knows for sure yet. Still, fascinating stuff.


Regina said...

This is very interesting to me, and timely, because I have been recently diagnosed with vitamin D insufficiency, hypothyroidism, AND I'm hyperglycemic. I was a chubby teenager and am a fat adult (43). It would be helpful to know if the vitamin d insufficiency contributed to my weight, since I was never tested for it before. I am now on 1000 units of D (after a megadose of 50,000 units at diagnosis) and have not had a hyperglycemic since. Though I do not have hypertension, I do have huge fluctuations in my blood pressures ( I had to monitor it for a time).
So I guess my question is, now that there is a suggestion as to a correlation, does that mean increasing vit. D will reduce extra fat, hypertension, and hyperglycemia? Or does it mean that fat people with vit. D deficiencies will be healthier with that issue resolved?

Anonymous said...

Extremely interesting. And I've had so many fat people recently talking to me about vitamin D makes you wonder how widespread a problem it really is.

I NEVER do this, but in this case, I'm tempted to look into a supplement, ever since I found out how widespread this deficiency is (particularly in Canada.)

chartreuse said...

FN -- I have been taking Vitamin D supplements ever since I had my levels tested and I was in the "deficient" range. Interestingly, after several months of supplementing 2000 IU a day, my level was higher, but still in the deficient range. And lots of the writing about Vitamin D suggests that our current recommended levels are too low, so that gives you a sense of just how low someone can be. The writing about Vitamin D is tantalizing, really -- links to cancer, diabetes, depression, and a million other things. For example, maybe this is why flu, colds, etc, are more common in the winter. The evidence is just emerging, though, so we ought to be cautious at this point.

Anyways, next time you get bloodwork done, ask to have your levels tested, even if just out of curiosity!

Lori said...

I had a bunch of bloodwork done at my prenatal intake appointment two months ago, and everything was fine except my Vitamin D, which was very low. I was really surprised, because I usually spend at least half an hour each day outside with my son, usually more. And once I mentioned it I couldn't believe how many other people had recently been diagnosed with the same thing.

Anonymous said...

I've been noticing more and more reports about the pervasiveness of vitamin D deficiency in the U.S., and that's esp interesting to me because at one point (a few years ago) I realized that I had lots of symptoms of Vit D deficiency, and had asked my doctor to test me for it. His response: "It's impossible to be deficient in Vitamin D, and when it happens, it's very, very rare."

Um, sounds like he was wrong. I've got a new doc, though, so maybe I'll try again.

Le sigh.

I hate having to fight for basic bloodwork/tests/etc, even though every time I do so, I'm right (i.e. the test comes back abnormal), and I had correctly self-diagnosed.

chartreuse said...

Regina -- That's the million dollar question, which I don't think there are any answers to yet. Here's hoping that, indeed, Vitamin D supplementation improves health in those who are deficient!

tara said...

It sounds like no matter what the cause people are better off not being fat.

Piffle said...

My doctor tells me that most people in my area are deficient. I know that once I started taking it, the joint pains in my toes, ankles, and fingers was nearly gone. When I was taking 2000 a day, if I missed a day the pains came back; so I've upped it to 4000 a day. I know this is more than recommended; but it seems to work for me.

Grape seed extract right before I eat carbs makes me less tired afterwards. I think I have a problem with blood sugar and carbs; but it hasn't been diagnosed by a doctor, so I'm not doing particular tests. I get it from Costco.