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Our human body needs a long list of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, proteins, and carbohydrates every day to function properly. The deficiency of these nutrients can lead to a variety of health problems. For example, vitamin D is essential for maintaining healthy bones and teeth as well as to keep your immune system strong. Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with numerous health problems including diabetes, pain in your muscles and bones, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, and even some types of cancer. Now, a new study has revealed that deficiency of this nutrient can lead to obesity.
It was found that vitamin D helps the body to channel energy into growth versus into fat storage. But when this nutrient is deficient, the energy that should be going toward growth is getting shunted into creating fat and lipids, thus leading to obesity.
The study, which has been published in the journal Scientific Reports, suggested that Vitamin D deficiency could disrupt the metabolic balance between fat accumulation and growth. Vitamin D deficiency was also found to be associated with higher triglyceride and cholesterol levels, which is a sign of metabolic imbalance that can lead to cardio-metabolic disease.
The researchers studied the effects of three diets - no vitamin D, vitamin D enriched and control - in post-juvenile zebrafish. Each group was fed their particular diet for four months. Then the researchers examined their growth, bone density, triglyceride, cholesterol, lipid, and vitamin D levels, the key metabolic pathways associated with fat production, storage and mobilization and growth promotion.
The zebrafish deficient in vitamin D were found to be smaller in size compared to the other groups but had significantly more fat reserves.
Then the researchers kept the zebrafish deficient in vitamin D on a vitamin D enriched diet for another six months, to see if the initial results could be reversed or not. The fish did continue to grow and begin to utilize fat reserves, but they never caught up in size with the other cohorts. Instead, they retained residual fat deposits.
These findings indicate that vitamin D deficiency can affect metabolic health by disrupting the normal balance between growth and fat accumulation. Instead of influencing growth, the energy is used in creating fat and lipids, and this occurrence cannot be easily reversed, the authors noted.
This new study gives another valid reason to maintain our Vitamin D levels. Some studies have also suggested that vitamin D could potentially help prevent or even treat COVID-19. But how would you know you have low vitamin D levels?
Usually, the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are very subtle and so many people don't realize they are deficient. But, some of the effects of vitamin D deficiency include muscle weakness, joint pain, fatigue, low energy, more frequent illness, hair loss, and anxiety.
You can get vitamin D from sunlight, foods, and nutritional supplements. Experts recommend exposing your body to the sun for about 15-20 minutes three days per week. Food sources of vitamin D include fatty fish like salmon, tuna, herring or sardines, cheese, milk, egg yolks, beef liver, cod liver oil, shrimp, and mushrooms.
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