Monday, September 27, 2010

Vitamin D Insufficiency Linked to Obesity

If your are obese, your doctor might want to run a test to determine your vitamin D status. Don't be too surprised if a blood test shows that the level of vitamin D circulating in your blood is below normal. This would be consistent with what others have found. Studies on American adults show that obese individuals are more likely to have insufficient vitamin D in their blood than individuals who are not obese.

Vitamin D is Trapped in the Fat Cells
Vitamin D insufficiency - low levels of vitamin D - is believed to be a major problem, affecting millions of Americans. All too often, the level of vitamin D circulating in the blood is found to be low in obese individuals, with a greater number of normal weight individuals having adequate levels.

You may be consuming what the recommended level of vitamin D, which should be adequate to meet your needs. You could be getting adequate exposure to the sun. You might even be taking a vitamin D supplement. But if you are obese, your lab work is likely to come back showing that your blood levels are low, maybe even deficient.

The low levels of vitamin D in the blood of people who are obese may be due to the way fat cells process the vitamin. It seems like the fat cells trap the vitamin, making it unavailable for all the vital functions that require vitamin D. The good news is, losing weight appears to resolve the problem for many people, according to a number of studies.

Insufficient levels of circulating vitamin D can also happen to obese people who undergo gastric bypass surgery. The problem with gastric bypass is that the surgery involves bypassing an area of the small intestine where vitamin D would normally be absorbed. Consequently, little or no vitamin D can be absorbed following the surgery. In this case, the doctor is likely to prescribe a vitamin D supplement.

If you suspect that you may be suffering from vitamin D insufficiency, talk to your doctor and a registered dietitian before making any drastic changes to your diet or taking large doses of any supplement.

Vitamin D helps to promote the absorption and transport of calcium from the gut to the various tissues and organs where it is needed. This includes carrying calcium to the bones where it is needed for ongoing remodeling of the bone. If vitamin D is locked in the fat cells and not available in the blood when needed, the remodeling of the bone will be impeded. As a result, the bones will become weak and thin. This condition, called osteoporosis, often leads to hip fractures and falls, particularly among the elderly.

Losing weight
Losing weight and consuming a diet that is rich in calcium and vitamin D, along with adequate exposure to the sun can help to prevent or slow bone loss associated with osteoporosis. But keep in mind that although calcium and vitamin D are key factors in promoting bone health, there are a number of other nutrients that are also involved.

Note: The information provided in this blog is for information and educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for personal medical guidance. Always consultant your personal doctor and registered dietitian before making any drastic changes that could affect your nutritional status and your health.