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December 13, 2008

Low vitamin D levels associated with weight gain in young women

Low vitamin D levels associated with weight gain in young women

In an article published online on November 4, 2008 in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, researchers at the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal and the University of Southern California report that postpubertal girls who are low on vitamin D experience weight gain and stunted growth.

McGill University Health Centre Musculoskeletal Axis codirector Richard Kremer and colleagues assessed serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels, weight, height, body fat, and bone mineral density of 90 Caucasian and Hispanic girls aged 16 to 22 living in southern California. Insufficient vitamin D levels were found in 59 percent of the participants. Those with insufficient vitamin D had increased weight, body mass, and body fat and tended to be shorter than girls with sufficient levels of the vitamin. No association between vitamin D levels and bone mineral density was observed in this group.

"The high prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in young people living in a sun-rich area was surprising," Dr Kremer commented. "We found young women with vitamin D insufficiency were significantly heavier, with a higher body mass index and increased abdominal fat, than young women with normal levels."

"Although vitamin D is now frequently measured in older adults, due to a higher level of awareness in this population, it is rarely measured in young people – especially healthy adolescents," Dr. Kremer noted.

"Clinicians need to identify vitamin D levels in younger adults who are at risk by using a simple and useful blood test," added co-author Dr. Vicente Gilsanz, who is the head of musculoskeletal imaging at the Children's Hospital Los Angeles of the University of Southern California. "Because lack of vitamin D can cause fat accumulation and increased risk for chronic disorders later in life, further investigation is needed to determine whether vitamin D supplements could have potential benefits in the healthy development of young people."

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Health Concern Life Extension Highlight

Obesity

The risk of death from all causes, including cardiovascular disease and cancer, increases with rising obesity in both men and women in all age groups, and the risk associated with a high BMI is greater for whites than for blacks (Calle et al 1999).

Obesity increases the risk of developing metabolic syndrome and coronary heart disease (Shirai 2004); type 2 diabetes (Mensah et al 2004); osteoarthritis of major load-bearing joints, such as the knee (Felson et al 1997); hypertension (high blood pressure); sleep apnea (periods of suspended breathing during sleep; Wolk et al 2003); and gall bladder disease (Petroni 2000).

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified obesity as a critical causal risk factor for cancers of the colon, breast (postmenopausal women), endometrium, kidney (renal cell), and esophagus (adenocarcinoma) (Calle et al 2004).

A study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that obesity causes 111,909 deaths annually (Flegal et al 2005), while epidemiological evidence shows that a lower body weight is associated with lower mortality risk (Stevens 2000). In the well-known Framingham Heart Study, risk of death increased by 1 percent for each extra pound (0.45 kg) of weight between age 30 and 42 and increased by 2 percent between age 50 and 62 (Solomon et al 1997; Kopelman 2000).

Essential fatty acids (omega-3) found in fish oils promote thermogenesis, the process by which foods are converted to heat. Because of this, the body burns calories instead of converting them into fat for storage (McCarty 1994). Another benefit of essential fatty acids is to make cell membranes more sensitive to the effects of insulin (Storlien et al 1986, 1987, 1996; Borkman et al 1993; Vessby et al 1994; Pan et al 1995).

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