Vitamin D brouhaha gets heavy

While public health professionals continue to argue about whether current federal standards for vitamin D intake are too low, a new University of Michigan (UM) study has linked vitamin D deficiency to abnormal weight gain in children.

Vitamin D is primarily provided to the body by the sun. Other sources of vitamin D are fortified foods and supplements.

The study involved following a group of nearly 500 schoolchildren age between 5 and 12 over a 30 month period. “We found that the kids with the lowest vitamin D levels at the beginning [of the study] tended to gain weight faster than the kids with higher levels,” said UM epidemiologist Eduardo Villamor, who added that children with the lowest vitamin D levels had more drastic increases in central body fat measures. Of all the children tested, 10 percent were vitamin D deficient, and another 46 percent of kids were insufficient, which meant they were at risk of becoming deficient.

The researchers suggest that the findings are significant as vitamin D insufficiency is highly prevalent across the globe and childhood obesity rates are dramatically increasing worldwide. “These findings should motivate some discussion on ways to enhance vitamin D status of children there, although it will be necessary to confirm in intervention studies whether improvements in vitamin D status decrease the risk of childhood obesity and early development of chronic diseases,” Villamor said.

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Source: University of Michigan

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