In a study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, scientists found new evidence that vitamin D may be metabolized differently in people with an elevated body mass index (BMI).
They used data from a large nationwide clinical study to examine whether taking vitamin D or marine omega-3 supplements could reduce the risk of developing cancer, heart disease, or stroke.
The team found that vitamin D supplementation correlated with positive effects on several health outcomes, but only among people with a BMI under 25.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient involved in many biological processes, most notably helping our body absorb minerals, such as calcium and magnesium.
While some of the vitamin D we need is made in the body from sunlight, vitamin D deficiencies are often treated with supplementation.
Evidence has also suggested that vitamin D may play a role in the prevention of cancer and heart disease.
In the current study, the team analyzed data from 16,515 participants from the original trial as well as 2,742 with a follow-up blood sample taken after two years.
The researchers measured the levels of total and free vitamin D, as well as many other novel biomarkers for vitamin D, such as its metabolites, calcium, and parathyroid hormone, which helps the body utilize vitamin D.
They found that vitamin D supplementation increased most of the biomarkers linked to vitamin D metabolism in people, regardless of their weight.
However, these increases were much smaller in people with high BMIs.
This may help explain why there are seeing 30–40% reductions in cancer deaths, autoimmune diseases, and other outcomes with vitamin D supplementation among those with lower BMIs but minimal benefit in those with higher BMIs.
The study suggests it may be possible to achieve benefits across the population with more personalized dosing of vitamin D.
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The study was conducted by Deirdre K. Tobias et al and published in JAMA Network Open.
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