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Obese individuals should test their vitamin D levels

Category: Vitamin D Deficiency-Diagnosis and Treatment

While everybody should get regular blood tests and lab tests to screen for diseases or abnormalities, some people should also be making sure that they have proper levels of specific vitamins and minerals as well. For example, people who live in northern parts of the U.S. where there isn't a lot of sunlight during the colder months should get tested to see if they have healthy vitamin D levels. According to a recent study conducted by researchers from University College London Institute of Child Health, obese individuals may also want to get their vitamin D levels assessed.

Researchers discovered that obesity may lead to vitamin D deficiency, which is why people who are overweight should get lab tests to ensure that they have enough of this important vitamin in their system.

Obesity and vitamin D
Previous studies have linked vitamin D deficiency to obesity, but this study set out to determine whether insufficient vitamin D levels leads to obesity, or if being overweight causes the deficiency. To come to their conclusions, the scientists examined genetic markers from nearly 42,000 individuals to assess the association between body mass index and genes associated with the synthesis and metabolism of vitamin D.

The researchers then used markers from 123,000 additional participants to help confirm the link between BMI and vitamin D. The scientists discovered that a 10 percent rise in BMI leads to a 4 percent drop in vitamin D concentrations in the body. However, having depleted vitamin D levels did not seem to cause a rise in BMI. Furthermore, these findings remained consistent regardless of a person's gender or age.

A growing concern
The scientists pointed out that vitamin D deficiency has been a growing public health concern in the U.S. Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that nearly two-thirds of all adults are overweight or obese, which is a number that has been increasing dramatically for the past several decades. This suggests that there may be a correlation between the growing number of obese individuals and the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency.

"Vitamin D deficiency is an active health concern around the world. While many health messages have focused on a lack of sun exposure or excessive use of sun creams, we should not forget that vitamin D deficiency is also caused by obesity. Our study highlights the importance of monitoring and treating vitamin D deficiency in people who are overweight or obese, in order to alleviate adverse health effects caused by a lack of vitamin D," said researcher Elina Hypponen, Ph.D.

Importance of vitamin D
Just why is it so important for obese individuals to keep track of their vitamin D levels? Vitamin D is crucial for overall health. The Mayo Clinic explains that vitamin D helps maintain healthy calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood, which are essential for healthy bones and teeth. Furthermore, research has suggested that people who have insufficient levels of this vitamin may have an increased risk of experiencing tooth decay, depression, rickets, osteoporosis or potentially even developing cancer.

While vitamin D is present in small amounts in certain foods such as salmon and fortified cereal, it's not enough to get vitamin D from food. Skin exposure to sunlight triggers vitamin D production in the body, which is why people who do not often go out in the sun should consider taking supplements, and ordering blood tests to help make sure they are doing a proper job of keeping their levels high.

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