While vitamin D is crucial for bone development, taking vitamin D supplements in excess may lead to serious health problems among overweight teens, according to experts.
In an interview with Mayo Clinic, Dr. Seemar Kumar, M.D., said that her study has shown that vitamin D supplements intake, among children older than 10 years old and suffering from obesity, have little benefit.
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“After three months of having vitamin D boosted into the normal range with supplements, these teenagers showed no changes in body weight, body mass index, waistline, blood pressure or blood flow,” the doctor said in the video interview.
Her findings also further revealed that taking the supplements may actually increase cholesterol levels and fat-storing triglycerides, which only promotes high cholesterol level among teens. “I have been surprised that we haven’t found more health benefit,” the doctor said.
In the past, studies have suggested that obese teens may benefit from taking vitamin D supplements because it can help address the weight problems vis-à-vis insulin resistance, according to U.S. News. When obesity is a growing problem in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, any means to reduce this may be seen as a helpful solution.
Vitamin D supplements have also become popular as a homeopathic means for treating obesity, according to Pioneer News. The news outlet also reported that parents sometimes let their children take the supplements to up to 10 times a day. The practice, in itself, is harmful, as vitamin D is known to be toxic if taken in excess, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
“We’re not saying it’s bad to take vitamin D supplements at reasonable doses, and we know most obese teens are vitamin D deficient. We’re just saying the jury is still out on how useful it is for improving overall health in adolescents,” Dr. Kumar said to Mayo Clinic.
The doctor, however, acknowledged the limitations of her study, saying that only a small number of children was part of the research for a short period of time. She recommended that further studies must be made, preferably among a larger group of participants in a controlled trial to examine the long-term effects of the vitamins.
“We’re not saying the links between vitamin D deficiency and chronic diseases don’t exist for children-we just haven’t found any yet,” the doctor added.
The doctor has been part of studies regarding vitamin D supplements for a decade and has had published six studies in relation to this, according to Business-Standard.
The latest study was published in the journal Pediatric Obesity.