Being obese puts individuals at greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes, a disease in which individuals have too much sugar in their blood. Now, University of Missouri researchers found vitamin D supplements can help obese children and teens control their blood-sugar levels, which may help them ward off the disease.
The researchers studied 35 pre-diabetic obese children and adolescents who were undergoing treatment in the MU Adolescent Diabetic Obesity Program. All of those in the study had insufficient or deficient vitamin D levels and had similar diets and activity levels. Study participants randomly were assigned either a high-dose vitamin D supplement or a placebo that they took daily for six months. Those who took the supplement became vitamin D sufficient and lowered the amount of insulin in their blood.
"The vitamin D dosage we gave to the obese adolescents in our study is not something I would recommend for everyone," the lead reasearcher said. "For clinicians, the main message from this research is to check the vitamin D status of their obese patients, because they're likely to have insufficient amounts. Adding vitamin D supplements to their diets may be an effective addition to treating obesity and its associated insulin resistance."
Vitamin D helps maintain healthy bones, muscles and nerves and enters bodies through sunlight exposure, diet or supplements. Vitamin D insufficiency is common; however, it can be more detrimental to those who are obese.
What makes vitamin D insufficiency different in obese individuals is that they process vitamin D about half as efficiently as normal-weight people. The vitamin gets stored in their fat tissues, which keeps it from being processed. This means obese individuals need to take in about twice as much vitamin D as their lean peers to maintain sufficient levels of vitamin D, the researchers said.
Adding a vitamin D supplement is an inexpensive way to help obese children and teens decrease their risk of developing diabetes.
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