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Vitamin D deficiency a bigger problem in obese teens

Afp/Relaxnews / November 8, 2011

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(Relaxnews) - Obese teenagers need significantly more vitamin D than their leaner counterparts, say researchers in a new US study which suggests that current recommended guidelines are sorely insufficient.

According to the National Institutes of Health in the US, while vitamin D deficiency is common in Americans, this is especially true of overweight and obese adolescents.

And in a study released last week, researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia say that teenagers who are obese need a daily dose of at least 4,000 IUs (International Units) to meet dietary requirements -- that’s nearly seven times more than the current daily recommended intake of 600 IUs, as set out in guidelines by the Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences.

"If obese adolescents only consumed the recommended 600 IUs, they would be in trouble," said study author Catherine Peterson in a statement. "It takes 4,000 IUs to raise their vitamin D status within a sufficient range...This indicates that physicians need to carefully evaluate the vitamin D status in their overweight and obese patients."

Obese adolescents absorb vitamin D in their fat stores, preventing it from being utilized in the blood and are about half as efficient as their leaner counterparts at metabolizing their benefits, researchers explain.

After giving a group of obese teens either a placebo or vitamin D3 supplements of 4,000 IU/day for six months, scientists found that while the amount may be the maximum level set by the IOM, it was safe and effective at improving teens’ vitamin D status.

Meanwhile, to help consumers meet their nutritional needs, retailers have been coming out with vitamin D-fortified products like milk and orange juice for years. In a study published earlier this year in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists said that baked goods like bread could also provide a good opportunity to carry vitamin D and fill the continuing nutritional gap.

Bread made with vitamin D2-rich yeast was shown to be as beneficial in lab experiments as vitamin D3 which is found in sunshine and foods like canned salmon, sardines and cheese, scientists said.

Vitamin D enables the body to absorb calcium and is essential for maintaining strong bones.

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