Vitamin D protects against chronic inflammation and insulin resistance in obese patients

The link between obesity and increased insulin levels is a well-established indicator of diabetes. Fortunately, there’s still hope: A study that appeared in Nutrire found that vitamin D protects the body from chronic inflammation and insulin resistance in obese individuals.

The study, led by researchers from the Federal University of Piauí in Brazil, reviewed studies that looked at the role of vitamin D in insulin resistance in obese individuals. In searching these studies, they used the keywords “vitamin D,” “insulin resistance,” and “obesity.” Moreover, the types of the studies the research team reviewed randomized or quasi-randomized controlled clinical trials, double-blind, case-control study, cross-sectional, and review articles.

In their literature review, they found that extra adipose tissue, where fat is stored, damaged insulin signaling as it prevented the phosphorylation of its receptor, which ultimately led to insulin resistance. The researchers also discovered that vitamin D worked by boosting glycemic control in mechanisms that took part in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance in obesity. Vitamin D increased hepatic and peripheral glucose uptake and instigated the secretion of this hormone to enhance glycemic control; basically, it helps the liver work more efficiently.

The findings of the review indicated that vitamin D protected against oxidative stress and chronic inflammation in obese individuals. The nutrient can also be an effective treatment and prevention of insulin resistance in people with obesity.

More on vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which naturally occurs in some foods. It is also produced when the ultraviolet rays from sunlight hit the skin and prompt vitamin D synthesis, hence its alternative name, the “sunshine vitamin.” This vitamin enhances calcium absorption in the gut and maintains enough serum calcium and phosphate required for bone growth and bone remodeling by osteoblasts and osteoclasts.

Calcium and phosphate help keep muscles, teeth, and bones healthy. Therefore, a lack of vitamin D in the body can result in bone pain and deformities. In addition, not getting adequate vitamin D increases the risk of childhood obesity. A study by Greek researchers revealed that the risk of having overweight or obese children is increased when the mother lacks vitamin D during pregnancy. (Related: Low vitamin D coupled with obesity dramatically raises diabetes risk.)

However, according to the National Health Service (NHS), both children and adults in the U.K. do not get adequate vitamin D from sunlight from October to early March. As a result, extra steps should be taken to meet the daily requirement of vitamin D.

An article published on the website suggests that you can get more vitamin D from food sources, such as wild-caught fish, beef or calf liver, egg yolks, canned fish, such as tuna and sardines, shiitake mushrooms, milk, yogurt, almond milk, pudding made with milk, orange juice, breakfast cereals, fortified tofu, oatmeal, cheese and eggnog. In addition, taking a daily supplement that contains 10 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D will boost your intake of the nutrient. Just be careful of not taking too much vitamin D as it can result in hypercalcemia, a condition where too much calcium accumulates in the body, making the bones weak and impairing the heart and kidneys.

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