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Weight loss boosts serum vitamin D in obese women

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By David Liu, PHD

Sunday Sept 2, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- Intentional weight loss either achived by a weight loss diet or intensified physical activity or both may boost a person's serum vitamin D level in obese and overweight women, according to a new study in the journal Obesity.  It is apparent that obese and overweight women are likely less physically active outdoors which can lead to low levels of serum vitamin D.

The study led by Cheryl L. Rock of University of Alabama at Birmingham in Birmingham, AL and colleagues showed that weight loss was associated with increased serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D or 25(OH)D concentration in overweight or obese women.

Early studies linked to low circulating levels of vitamin D or its metabolites have been associated with elevated risk for several diseases including cancer and heart disease.

Large observational studies have also shown that obesity is independently correlated with lower serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentrations. 

The current study was meant to prospectively examine if weight loss is associated with increased levels of serum vitamin D in overweight or obese women.

Data used for the study were collected from 383 overweight or obese women who enrolled in a 2-year clinical trial of a weight-loss program, in which 51 percent or 195 women lost at least 5 percent of baseline weight by 24 months, 18 percent or 67 women lost 5–10 percent, and 33 percent or 128 women lost greater than 10 percent.

Overweight or obese women who lost 5 to 10 percent of baseline body weight increased their serum vitamin D levels, measured as 25(OH)D by 2. ng/mL, those who had a weight loss of greater than 10 percent increased serum vitamin D levels by 5.0 ng/mL, compared to an increase of 1.9 ng/mL among those who did not lost any weight.

At the end of the study, 64 percent of overweight or obese women met the recommended serum concentration of 20 ng/mL, compared to 51 percent at baseline. Among those who lost body weight, 83 percent achieved a normal body mass index.

The researchers said "These findings suggest that weight loss, presumably associated with a reduction in body fat, is associated with increased serum 25(OH)D concentration in overweight or obese women."

It is unknown why weight loss was associated with elevated concentrations of serum vitamin D. It is possible that weight loss meant to be more physical activity, which in turn exposed an individual to more sun rays, which increased the levels of vitamin D in the blood.

Low vitamin D levels have been associated with more than 100 health conditions including up to 17 cancers, heart disease, diabetes, obesity/overweight, high blood pressure, dementia, and depression among others.

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