People with higher BMI experience less benefits, ‘diminished outcomes’

People with higher BMI experience less benefits, 'diminished outcomes'

Vitamin D might be metabolized differently in people with a higher body mass index, according to a new study from Boston researchers who found that the vitamin’s benefits may depend on someone’s body weight.

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital concluded that people with an elevated BMI had a “blunted response” to vitamin D supplementation — which the scientists said explains differences in outcomes, such as cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune disease.

The study released on Tuesday is a new analysis of data from the VITAL trial, a large nationwide clinical trial led by Brigham researchers that investigated whether taking vitamin D or marine omega-3 supplements could reduce the risk of developing cancer, heart disease, or stroke.

“The analysis of the original VITAL data found that vitamin D supplementation correlated with positive effects on several health outcomes, but only among people with a BMI under 25,” said Deirdre Tobias, an associate epidemiologist in Brigham’s Division of Preventive Medicine.

“There seems to be something different happening with vitamin D metabolism at higher body weights, and this study may help explain diminished outcomes of supplementation for individuals with an elevated BMI,” Tobias added.]

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient involved in many biological processes, most notably helping the body absorb minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. While some of the vitamin D that humans need is made in the body from sunlight, vitamin D deficiencies are often treated with supplementation.

Evidence from lab studies, epidemiologic research and clinical research has also suggested that vitamin D may play a role in the incidence and progression of cancer and cardiovascular disease — and it was this evidence that prompted the original VITAL trial.

The VITAL trial was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in 25,871 U.S. participants, which included men over the age of 50 and women over the age of 55. While the trial found little benefit of vitamin D supplementation for preventing cancer, heart attack, or stroke in the overall cohort, there was a statistical correlation between BMI and cancer incidence, cancer mortality, and autoimmune disease incidence.

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