A high fat diet alone cannot trigger a metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions associated with an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. Researchers of a new study published in Physiology said that vitamin D deficiency is needed for this syndrome to progress. Authors reached this conclusion after observing mice and their gut bacteria. Their research found that vitamin D supplementation decreased the risk of developing a metabolic syndrome. If these findings prove to be similar among humans, it could imply more affordable prevention options.
“Based on this study, we believe that keeping vitamin D levels high, either through sun exposure, diet or supplementation, is beneficial for prevention and treatment of metabolic syndrome,” said Professor Stephen Pandol on ScienceDaily.com. Professor Pandol was a co-author of the study. He went on to state, “A sufficient dietary vitamin D supplement can partially but significantly antagonize metabolic syndrome caused by high fat diet in mice. These are amounts equivalent to the dietary recommendations for humans.”
The marriage of diet and sunlight
It is well-known that a high fat diet significantly increases the risk of developing a metabolic syndrome, characterized by obesity, insulin resistance, and most notably, a fatty liver. The diet affects the balance between good and bad bacteria in the gut. However, researchers noted that an insufficient supply of vitamin D further aggravated the balance, and acted as a catalyst for the full onset of a metabolic disease. Vitamin D deficiency reduced the amount of the antimicrobial molecules that promote healthy gut bacteria. When these vitamin D levels were balanced, blood sugar levels improved and livers became less fatty.
In conclusion, authors of the study stated that a high fat diet alone is not enough to trigger metabolic syndrome. A vitamin D deficiency is needed in combination for people to develop a metabolic condition. Yuan-Ping Han, the other co-author of the study said, “Few studies have indicated that vitamin D supplementation may not improve metabolic disorders in humans. However, these studies are largely based on long-term surveys, which may be hampered by poor compliance and insufficient dosage.”
Both Han and Pandol are optimistic that the results of their study will prove true among humans. “We are planning a clinical study to confirm the link of vitamin D deficiency with gut bacteria disruption, and its association with metabolic syndrome,” said Han.
How do I know if I am deficient in vitamin D?
Health professionals suggest that nearly half of the world’s population are deficient in Vitamin D. Known as the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption in the body and promotes bone and cell growth. While vitamin D can be found in certain foods, the main source of vitamin D is sunlight exposure. An article on AuthorityNutrition.com has listed some of the more common symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency.
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency
- Being sickly: Vitamin D fights the bacteria and viruses that cause illness.
- Fatigue and tiredness: Case studies suggest a relationship between Vitamin D deficiency and severe fatigue.
- Bone and back pain: Vitamin D is necessary for bone health.
- Depression: Researchers note a link between depression and low levels of Vitamin D.
- Impaired wound healing: Vitamin D increases the production of the compounds that are crucial for wound healing.
- Bone loss: An observational study concluded that middle-aged postmenopausal women with low bone mineral density showed low Vitamin D levels as well.
- Hair loss: Hair loss in women has been linked to insufficient Vitamin D levels.
- Muscle pain: New evidence suggests a Vitamin D deficiency can lead to muscle pain.
These symptoms can be easily alleviated with proper diet and vitamin D supplementation.