The researchers suggest that perhaps since vitamin D is generally lower in persons with obesity, it is possible that low vitamin D could account, in part, for the link between obesity and diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
To investigate, researchers studied more than 400 overweight to obese, sedentary, middle aged women who were randomly assigned to one of four groups: exercise only, diet only, exercise plus diet and no intervention.
About 70 percent of the participants had less-than-optimal levels of vitamin D when the study began.
Over the course of the study, those who lost 5 percent to 10 percent of their body weight - equivalent to approximately 10 to 20 pounds for most of the women in the study - through diet and/or exercise saw a relatively small increase in blood levels of vitamin D, whereas women who lost more than 15 percent of their weight experienced a nearly threefold increase in vitamin D, independent of dietary intake of the nutrient.
Researchers say while weight loss of 5 percent to 10 percent is generally recommended to improve risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugars, more weight loss might be necessary to meaningfully raise blood vitamin D levels.
The findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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