• People with low vitamin D levels are more likely to be obese or overweight
  • Scientists said findings suggest all overweight people should be tested 
  • If found deficient in the ‘sunshine’ vitamin they should take supplements

Lizzie Parry for MailOnline

Obese and overweight people who are deficient in vitamin D should take supplements to boost their chances of losing weight, experts have said.

The advice comes as a new study warns people who have low levels of the ‘sunshine’ vitamin, are more likely to be obese or overweight. 

Previous studies have linked a vitamin D deficiency with developing obesity and the risk of related complications, including type 2 diabetes.

Researchers at the University of Milan estimated that in northern Italy, severe vitamin D deficiency ranges from six per cent in overweight people to 30 to 40 per cent in those considered morbidly obese. 

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People who are overweight or obese are more likely to be deficient in the 'sunshine' vitamin, vitamin D. A new study suggests those who are overweight should take supplements to help aid weight loss

People who are overweight or obese are more likely to be deficient in the ‘sunshine’ vitamin, vitamin D. A new study suggests those who are overweight should take supplements to help aid weight loss

Almost all obese participants did not have a vitamin D level in the optimal range. 

Scientists recruited 400 obese or overweight adults who were split into three groups – those who took no supplements, those who took 25,000 vitamin D units a month, and those who took 100,000. 

All participants were put on the same balanced, low-calorie diet.

After six months, only those who took 100,000 units a month achieved optimal vitamin D status.

But a significantly greater weight decrease and reduction in waist circumference was observed in both groups that took the supplements.

Those who took 25,000 units lost an average of 3.8kg, while the figure was 5.4kg for the 100,000 unit group and 1.2kg amongst those who took no supplements.

Those who took 100,000 units lost 5.48cm on average from their waist, those who took 25,000 units reduced by 4cm and those with no supplementation lost 3.21cm.

The study authors said: ‘The present data indicate that in obese and overweight people with vitamin D deficiency, vitamin D supplementation aids weight loss and enhances the beneficial effects of a reduced-calorie diet.

Researchers found significantly greater weight decrease and reduction in waist circumference in participants that took vitamin D supplements

Researchers found significantly greater weight decrease and reduction in waist circumference in participants that took vitamin D supplements

‘All people affected by obesity should have their levels of vitamin D tested to see if they are deficient, and if so, begin taking supplements.’

The study was presented at last week’s European Congress on Obesity in Prague.

Another presentation at the congress found living at higher altitude was associated with a lower risk of becoming overweight or obese.  

The research, led by the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, analysed more than 9,000 Spanish graduates and discovered that participants living at 456 metres or higher had 13 per cent less risk of becoming overweight or obese than those living at minus 124 metres or below.

They said this was likely to be due to hypoxia conditions, meaning lower concentrations of oxygen in the air, which suppresses hunger due to increasing secretion of the hormone leptin.

The authors also speculated that the findings could be due to an ancient adaptive mechanism that aids people to survive at high altitudes where food is not abundant.

‘While it might not be realistic to expect everyone to move further uphill to reduce obesity levels, it is encouraging to see this effect occurred at only 450m altitude,’ they added. 

 

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