doubt you've seen the headlines saying that not getting enough vitamin D
may increase your risk of countless health woes. It's important to read
those stories carefully, since links don't necessarily prove cause and
effect. "There can be many other explanations for the associations
observed," says JoAnn Manson, MD, PhD, chief of the division of
preventive medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Massachusetts.
"Several large-scale randomized trials of vitamin D are in progress, and
they will provide conclusive evidence as to whether supplementation
with moderate-to-high doses of vitamin D can reduce the risk of heart
disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases." In other words, don't
panic and start popping pills; do consult with your own doc to be sure
you're getting the nutrients you need. Read on for some of the health
problems now linked to low vitamin D.
3 Health Problems Because Low Vitamin D
Obese men, women, and children are 35% more likely to
be vitamin D deficient than normal-weight people, and 24% more likely to
be D deficient than overweight people, according to a 2015
meta-analysis. One possible explanation: A study published in 2000 in
the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that obesity limits the
body's ability to use D from both sunlight and dietary sources, since
fat cells hold on to vitamins and don't release them efficiently.
Translation: Obesity could actually make vitamin D deficiency worse.
People with diabetes or prediabetes have lower
vitamin D levels than those with normal blood sugar, according to a
Spanish study published in 2015 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology
& Metabolism. The link held for folks across the BMI spectrum—in
fact, both lean and morbidly obese people with diabetes or prediabetes
had significantly lower D than their nondiabetic counterparts. The
study's authors believe that vitamin D deficiency and obesity "interact
synergistically" to increase the risk of diabetes and other metabolic
3. Heart disease
Heart disease and vitamin D deficiency are known
to go hand in hand; one sobering 2009 study found that subjects with
extremely low levels of vitamin D were nearly three times as likely to
die of heart failure and five times as likely to die of sudden cardiac
death. However, experts say there isn't evidence of a direct link
between higher vitamin D levels and lowering cardiovascular risk, so
it's too soon to say if taking supplements might boost heart health.