The human body requires a lot of vitamins, carbohydrates, and minerals to function properly. The deficiency of any of these nutrients can lead to several kinds of health problems. For example, vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, teeth, and for your strong immune system. An adequate level of this vitamin also helps reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection. Similarly, a low level of vitamin D can cause some serious health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, pain in muscles and bones, multiple sclerosis, and even some types of cancer. Now a recent study has revealed that deficiency of vitamin D can lead to obesity.
Vitamin D helps our body to channel energy into growth versus into fat storage. According to the study, it was found that the deficiency of the vitamin can disrupt the metabolic balance between fat accumulation and growth. This means the energy that should be used for growth is gets shunted into creating lipids and fat, leading to obesity. The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, used zebrafish model to prove this finding. Its deficiency was always linked with cholesterol levels and higher triglyceride – a sign of metabolic imbalance that can result in cardio-metabolic disease.
According to author Seth Kullman from the North Carolina State University in the United States, vitamin D deficient zebrafish exhibited both hyperplasia and hypertrophy which result in an increase in both the size and number of fat cells.
The effects of three diets – vitamin D enriched no vitamin D and controlled amount of the vitamin in the post-juvenile zebrafish. Each group was given their particular diet for four months following which their bone density, growth, triglyceride, cholesterol, fat production, and growth promotion was monitored by scientists. The group which was fed vitamin D deficient food was found to smaller in size but with a significant amount of fat reserves.
Then this vitamin D deficient zebrafish was put on a vitamin D enriched diet for the next six months to find out if the initial results could be reversed or not. It was found that the fish started to grow in size and began to utilize fat reserve but retained residual fat deposits and never caught up in size with other groups.
According to Kullman, the finding indicates that vitamin D deficiency can manipulate metabolic health by disrupting the normal balance between growth and fat accumulation. Now researchers will conduct a study in the future to find whether this vitamin D deficiency has epigenetic effects that can be passed down.