IT HAS been called the sunshine vitamin, but now vitamin D has been found to lighten the lives of obese or overweight people deficient in it by helping them shed the pounds.
Previous studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is associated with developing obesity and the risk of obesity-related complications, scientists at the University of Milan said.
“They should have their levels of vitamin D tested”University of Milan study authors
They estimated that in northern Italy, severe vitamin D deficiency ranges from 6 per cent in overweight people to 30-40 per cent in the morbidly obese. Almost all obese subjects had a level of vitamin D below the optimal range.
For their study they recruited 400 obese or overweight adults they split into three groups: those who took no supplements; those who took 25,000 vitamin D units a month; and those who took 100,000 (a single tablet can contain 800 units). All participants were put on the same balanced, low-calorie diet.
After six months, only those who took 100,000 units a month achieved optimal vitamin D status, but a significantly greater weight decrease and reduction in waist circumference was observed in both groups that took the supplements.
Those who took 25,000 units lost an average of 3.8kg (8lb 4oz), while the figure was 5.4kg (11lb 9oz) for the 100,000 unit group and 1.2kg (2lb 6oz) among those who took no supplements. Those who took 100,000 units lost 5.48cm (just over 2in) on average from their waist, those who took 25,000 units reduced by 4cm (just over 1½in) and those with no supplementation took 3.21cm off (about 1¼in).
The study’s authors said: “The present data indicate that in obese and overweight people with vitamin D deficiency, vitamin D supplementation aids weight loss and enhances the beneficial effects of a reduced-calorie diet.
“All people affected by obesity should have their levels of vitamin D tested to see if they are deficient, and if so, begin taking supplements.”
Another study being presented at this week’s European Congress on Obesity in Prague, Czech Republic, found that living at higher altitude was associated with a lower risk of obesity.
A team led by the University of Navarra in Pamplona, analysed more than 9,000 Spanish graduates and found those living at 456 metres or higher had 13 per cent less risk of becoming overweight or obese.
They said this was likely to be due to hypoxia conditions, meaning lower levels of oxygen in the air, which suppresses hunger due to increasing secretion of leptin. This could be due to an ancient adaptive mechanism that aids people to live at high altitudes where food is scarce.
“While it might not be realistic to expect everyone to move further uphill to reduce obesity levels, it is encouraging to see this effect occurred at only 450m altitude,” the authors said.
• Women who “eat for two” during pregnancy are raising the risk of their baby growing up to be obese, research suggests.
Eight-year-olds were more likely to be overweight or obese if their mothers had gained too much weight, had not exercised or smoked while expecting.
A study of more than 5,000 youngsters found all three factors were linked with sharply increasing the probability of becoming obese as they grew up.
Moderate exercise in pregnancy was found to lower the risk, the study published in the BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth journal found.