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Once regarded as something you just added to milk to make sure children didn't get rickets, vitamin D is turning out to be involved in an astonishing number of body processes.

A Well-Known Health Website Gets the Facts About Vitamin D Deficiency and Obesity Totally Wrong

Vitamin D deficiency is linked to depression. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to high blood pressure. Ironically, since human skin makes vitamin D when it is exposed to bright sunlight (with a UV index of at least 4), vitamin D deficiency has even been linked to skin cancer.

And the latest finding of vitamin D research is being reported that deficiency in D may cause obesity. Buy our vitamin D spray and watch the pounds fall off, the article implies. But the relationship being touted in the article isn't what the research said.

What the obesity researchers really discovered, and what they didn't. The website Natural News reported that a research team at the Rikshospitalet-Radiumhospitalet Medical Center in Oslo, Norway, publishing their findings in the Journal of Nutrition, had learned that people who had a higher BMI (body-mass index, a measure of obesity correcting weight for height) had lower levels of vitamin D2 in their bloodstream.

There are two main kinds of vitamin D in the human body. There is vitamin D3, which is what you get in a supplement and what is made by your skin. This is the storage form of the vitamin. There is also vitamin D2, which is activated by your liver for use in cells. Your body typically has about 1,000 times more D3 than D2. It's normal to have a lot more D3 than D2. If you don't, it's usually because of an abnormality in your parathyroid glands.

There was absolutely nothing in the Norwegian research that found that not getting enough vitamin D causes obesity. In fact, the researchers weren't looking at causality at all, and the article didn't even say that there was an important relationship between vitamin D and obesity.

It just said that obesity was one of several factors determining D2 levels. The most important predictor of your active, D2 levels, according to the researchers, is your storage form, D3 levels. Age, gender, time of year, and body mass index also fit into the relationship, but not very strongly. So what is the relationship between obesity and vitamin D levels?
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  • Sneve M, Figenschau Y, Jorde R: Supplementation with cholecalciferol does not result in weight reduction in overweight and obese subjects. Eur J Endocrinol 2008 , 159:675-684
  • Zhou J, Zhao LJ, Watson P, Zhang Q, Lappe JM. The effect of calcium and vitamin D supplementation on obesity in postmenopausal women: secondary analysis for a large-scale, placebo controlled, double-blind, 4-year longitudinal clinical trial. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2010 Jul 23, 7:62
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