According to a new study, lack of vitamin D is not only bad for the bones, it may also lead to fatter adolescents.
The study of more than 650 teens age 14-19 has found that those who reported higher vitamin D intakes had lower overall body fat and lower amounts of the fat in the abdomen, a type of fat known as visceral fat, which has been associated with health risks such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and hypertension.
The group with the lowest vitamin D intake, black females, had higher percentages of both body fat and visceral fat, while black males had the lowest percentages of body and visceral fat, even though their vitamin D intake was below the recommended levels. Only one group, white males was getting the recommended minimum intake of vitamin D.
"This study was a cross-section so, while it cannot prove that higher intake of vitamin D caused the lower body fat, we know there is a relationship that needs to be explored further," said Dr. Yanbin Dong, a molecular geneticist and cardiologist at the Medical College of Georgia Prevention Institute.
Potential study participants had their weekday and weekend diets tracked by researchers seven times during a three-month period.
Those who provided at least four diet reports were included in the final group of 659.
Body fat percentages were measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry scans, which can measure total body composition. Visceral fat was measured in a subset of 432 teens.
The findings were resented this week at the American Heart Association's Joint 49th Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention and Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism in Palm Harbor, Fla.