Vitamin D status affected by obesity

People who are overweight or obese are more likely to have lower circulating levels of vitamin D and may have trouble with conversion to its hormonally active form, a Norwegian study suggests.

These findings, published in the Journal of Nutrition, may partially explain why carrying extra pounds raises risk of several poor health outcomes linked to low vitamin D. The hormonally active form is critical for maintaining cell health, strong bones, a strong immune system, and a healthy heart and brain.

University of Oslo researchers observed almost 1,800 people for six years—about 62 percent obese and 11 percent morbidly obese as indicated by Body Mass Index (BMI)—and found an inverse relationship between higher BMI and serum concentrations of circulating 25(OH)2D and the hormonally active 1,25(OH)2D.

A seasonal variation of both vitamin D metabolites in the obese subjects provided clues that excess weight disturbed the complicated conversion (hydroxylation) of the circulating 25(OH)2D to hormonaly active 1,25(OH)2D in the kidneys.

The authors suggest that measurement of both serum concentrations, 25(OH)2D to 1,25(OH)2D, in overweight and obese persons may be valuable because of “the reduced bioavailability” of the fat-soluble vitamin that “accumulates in excess body fat and muscular tissue.”

The research confirms prior studies’ findings that people who are overweight or obese may need to obtain higher amounts of vitamin D from sun exposure, diet or supplementation. In addition, achieving a healthier BMI is predicted as a way to improve vitamin D status.

Several other factors affect vitamin D status, and include lack of sunlight exposure, skin with higher melanin content (darker skin), older age, low dietary intake, and impaired ability to absorb vitamin D from the diet.

Source: Lagunova Z, Porojnicu AC, Vieth R, Lindberg FA, Hexeberg S and Moan J. Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D is a Predictor of Serum 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D in Overweight and Obese Patients. J Nutr 2011; 141: 112-117. doi: 10.3945/​jn.109.119495.

My thoughts:

I found this to be an interesting paper. The point is that one of the big reasons for why obesity leads to poor health is because it wrecks your ability to use a powerful hormone, vitamin D. People overweight need more vitamin D to cope, plus will improve vitamin D status when they lose weight. A big deal.

Published by David Despain, MS, CFS

David is a science and health writer living on Long Island, New York. He's written for a variety of publications including Scientific American, Outside Online, the American Society for Nutrition's (ASN) Nutrition Notes Daily, and Institute of Food Technologists' (IFT) Food Technology magazine and Live! blog. He's also covered new findings reported at scientific meetings including Experimental Biology, AAAS, AOCS, CASW, Sigma Xi, IFT, and others on his personal blog "Evolving Health." David is also an active member of organizations including the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Society for Nutrition, the Institute of Food Technologists, and the National Audubon Society. David has a master's degree in human nutrition from the University of Bridgeport, and a bachelor's degree in English from University of Illinois at Springfield. He also earned his Certified Food Scientist credential from the Institute of Food Technologists.

2 thoughts on “Vitamin D status affected by obesity

  1. Obesity affects not only our lifestyle but also the circulating levels of vitamins in our body. Having a normal body might be hard that is why I Buy PGX for me to get the body that I want.

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