It is not called the ‘sunshine vitamin’ for nothing. Although this name is derived from the fact that our body produces Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, still this almost hormone-like compound and fat-soluble vitamin has many facets that are being studied by researchers across the globe.
According to a new study published in Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, people who have low levels of Vitamin D, regardless of how much they weigh, are more likely to have diabetes. Founded in 1916, the Endocrine Society is the world’s oldest, largest and most active organisation devoted to research on hormones and the clinical practice of endocrinology.
The results help clarify the connection between Vitamin D, obesity and diabetes. According to the society’s statement on the non-skeletal effects of Vitamin D, studies have found that people who have low levels are more likely to be obese. They also are more likely to have type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and metabolic syndrome than people with normal levels.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and maintain bone and muscle health. The skin naturally produces this vitamin after exposure to sunlight. People also absorb smaller amounts of the vitamin through foods, such as milk fortified with the vitamin. More than one billion people worldwide are estimated to have deficient levels of Vitamin D due to limited sunshine exposure.
“The major strength of this study is it compares Vitamin D levels in people at a wide range of weights (from lean to morbidly obese subjects) while taking whether they had diabetes into account,” says Mercedes Clemente-Postigo, one of the study’s author and researcher.
The cross-sectional study compared Vitamin D biomarkers in 118 participants at the university hospital Virgen de la Victoria in Malaga, Spain, as well as 30 other participants. All participants were classified by their body-mass index (BMI) as well as whether they had diabetes, prediabetes or no glycemic disorders. Researchers measured levels of Vitamin D in the participants’ blood streams and Vitamin D receptor gene expression in adipose tissue.
The analysis found that obese subjects who did not have glucose metabolism disorders had higher levels of Vitamin D than diabetic subjects. Likewise, lean subjects with diabetes or another glucose metabolism disorder were more likely to have low levels of Vitamin D. Vitamin D levels were directly correlated with glucose levels, but not with BMI. “Our findings indicate that Vitamin D is associated more closely with glucose metabolism than obesity,” says Manuel Macías-González, another researcher. “The study suggests that Vitamin D deficiency and obesity interact synergistically to heighten the risk of diabetes and other metabolic disorders. The average person may be able to reduce their risk by maintaining a healthy diet and getting enough outdoor activity.”
The sunshine vitamin has been in the news as many claims about its power to improve health has been made through different researches. Several studies have suggested that Vitamin D can improve a person’s ability to fight cancer. “Considering that Vitamin D deficiency is a widespread issue all over the world, it is important to ensure that everyone has sufficient levels of this important nutrient. Physicians need to pay close attention to Vitamin D levels in people who have been diagnosed with cancer,” says Hui Wang, professor of the Institute for Nutritional Sciences at the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai. Its regular intake can also decrease the risk of asthma attacks, flu etc.
According to another study carried out by the Endocrine Society, Vitamin D-deficient individuals are twice as likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia as people who have sufficient levels of the vitamin. Schizophrenia is a mental illness with symptoms that can include delusions and hallucinations. Since schizophrenia is more prevalent in high latitudes and cold climates, researchers have theorised Vitamin D may be connected to the disorder.
● People who have low levels of Vitamin D, regardless of how much they weigh, are more likely to have diabetes
● It is also linked to obesity and depression
● Vitamin D-deficient individuals are twice as likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia as people who have sufficient levels of the vitamin
● Studies have suggested that Vitamin D can improve a person’s ability to fight cancer