Table of Contents
What Is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D, a fat soluble vitamin, is in reality a hormone that performs a plethora of functions in the human body. Vitamin D, also known as 1, 25- dihydroxy vitamin D, is commonly known for its functions involving calcium and phosphorous metabolism and thereby maintaining bone health and preventing associated disorders such as osteoporosis.
For decades, the scientific community has viewed vitamin D as a promising nutrient offering countless health benefits. It is abundantly clear via numerous scientific trials that vitamin D is undoubtedly a crucial nutrient for optimal health, given the fact that over 500 genes have been identified with some form of vitamin D response elements in them. Hence, it could be expected that a deficiency of this fat-soluble nutrient would result in a gamut of health issues.
We acquire most of our vitamin D through sun exposure, though small amounts of the nutrient come from our diets and/or supplementation. Recently the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released vitamin D intake guidelines, however these guidelines only relate to bone health and calcium metabolism. Scientific evidence has shown that vitamin D plays an active role in both the treatment and prevention of obesity and chronic disorders associated with a higher Body Mass Index (BMI). Therefore, it is required for more than just the regulation of bone health.
Vitamin D And Obesity
Obesity has become a worldwide epidemic affecting both adults and children. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that obesity is no longer just affecting developed nations, but in fact, it is widely spreading across the globe. Being overweight and/or obese predisposes individuals to many inflammatory and chronic health disorders such as type 2 diabetes, cancers, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and CVD.
The scientific community has consistently suggested that vitamin D deficiency has been observed in overweight and obese populations. There a number of clinical studies stating that there may be an association between increasing BMIs and vitamin D deficiency. While there are many plausible explanations for such an association between vitamin D deficiency and obesity, some that have been evaluated in the recent past include the following:
- Low dietary intake,
- Reduced synthesis of the active form of vitamin D in obese individuals,
- Altered metabolism,
- Altered absorption, and
- Reduced capacity for synthesis of the vitamin within the body.
While there are numerous clinical ongoing efforts to understand the many associations between vitamin D status and obesity, it is still unclear if vitamin D deficiency leads to obesity or if in fact, gaining weight results in a deficiency of vitamin D. Irrespectively, studies have shown that vitamin D plays a very beneficial role in the treatment and prevention of obesity.