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Beware: Vitamin D deficiency can make you obese and lead to stunted growth

Vitamin D, or the ‘Sunshine Vitamin as it is also known as, is one of the essential nutrients that makes your bones and teeth stronger, wards off infections and diseases and keeps you cheerful. This fat-soluble vitamin can also bring down your risk of cancer, autoimmune diseases, heart disease and diabetes. But unfortunately, as many as 50 per cent of the global population suffers from vitamin D deficiency. There are many reasons for this including low exposure to sunlight, bad dietary choices and an unhealthy lifestyle. This is bad for overall health. Also Read – Can Vitamin D supplements help in pain management? We have now one more reason to maintain the levels of this vitamin in our body. Researchers from the North Carolina State University in the US have found that vitamin D deficiency during early development can disrupt the metabolic balance between growth and fat accumulation. Using a zebrafish model, the study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, says that there is a strong association between this vitamin and metabolic homeostasis, or equilibrium. Also Read – Vitamin D levels in blood can predict future health risks in ageing men Vitamin D deficiency can cause increase in size and number of fat cells
According to them, the vitamin D deficient zebrafish exhibited both hypertrophy and hyperplasia – an increase in both the size and number of fat cells. They also had higher triglycerides and cholesterol, which are hallmarks of metabolic imbalance that can lead to cardio-metabolic disease. This, combined with stunted growth, indicates that this vitamin plays an important role in the ability to channel energy into growth versus into fat storage. Also Read – Vitamin D can bring down your risk of cancer: Know the other health benefits of this supplement It can also stunt growth
For the study, the research team looked at groups of post-juvenile zebrafish on one of three diets: Some were give no vitamin D (or vitamin D null), some were enriched with vitamin D and others formed the control group. The zebrafish spent four months on their particular diet, then the researchers looked at their growth, bone density, triglyceride, lipid, cholesterol and vitamin D levels. Researchers also examined key metabolic pathways associated with fat production, storage and mobilization and growth promotion. The zebrafish in the deficient group were, on average, 50 per cent smaller than those in the other two groups, and they had significantly more fat reserves. Difficult to reverse effects, say experts
After the initial testing, the vitamin D deficient zebrafish were given a vitamin D enriched diet for an additional six months, to see if the results could be reversed. While the fish did continue to grow and begin to utilize fat reserves, they never caught up in size with the other cohorts and they retained residual fat deposits. This work shows that deficiency in this vitamin can influence metabolic health by disrupting the normal balance between growth and fat accumulation. According to researchers, the energy that should be going toward growth is getting shunted into creating fat and lipids, and this occurrence cannot be easily reversed. Future work will involve looking at the offspring of vitamin D deficient mothers, to determine whether this vitamin deficiency has epigenetic effects that can be passed down, the researchers noted. (With inputs from IANS) Published : October 1, 2020 12:52 pm

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