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Vitamin D May Extend Quality of Life for Obese

The vitamin may positively influence physical activity levels and functioning….

Tomás Ahern, MB, BCh, BAO, of St. Columcille’s Hospital and St. Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin, said in a press release, "People with severe obesity already are eight times more likely to have poor physical function than people with a healthy BMI." "Poor vitamin D status contributes to the deterioration of physical function in this population."

Researchers in Ireland recruited 252 adults aged 18 to 75 years with BMI ≥50 into a clinic-based, cross-sectional study. Participants were assigned to groups based on serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations in blood samples, according to North American Institute of Medicine risk categorization; at risk for deficiency, within range of adequacy and above adequacy threshold.

Participants were timed as they walked 500 m and climbed up and down a single 17-cm step 50 times. They also provided estimates of their physical activity.

Participants above the threshold with a 25-(OH)D >50 nmol/L had the highest activity levels compared with those at risk of deficiency with a 25-(OH)D <30 nmol/L (3.1 ± 3.4 hours per week vs. 1.5 ± 2.5 hours per week; P=.015) and the shorter walk times (6.2 ± 1.1 minutes vs. 7.4 ± 1.5 minutes; P=.003).

"Improving vitamin D status should improve quality of life and may decrease the risk of early death in people with severe obesity," Ahern said. "This could be a simple matter of spending more time outside, since sun exposure can boost the body’s natural vitamin D production."

Practice Pearls:
  • Poor vitamin D status contributes to the deterioration of physical function in the obese populations.
  • Participants above the threshold with a 25-(OH)D >50 nmol/L had the highest activity levels compared with those at risk of deficiency.
  • Vitamin D may decrease the risk of early death in people with severe obesity.

Ahern T. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014;doi:10.1210/jc.2014-1704.