A recent study published in the May issue of ‘Journal of Adolescent Health’s’ released some concerning news related to obese adolescents and low levels of vitamin D. It found that these adolescents typically suffer from vitamin D deficiency. This deficiency is related to the development of osteoporosis and so these findings are especially alarming since they have been discovered in relatively young people. Vitamin D is created by exposure to the sun. Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include depression, chronic fatigue, diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis and heart disease.
Therefore, having enough vitamin D is crucial to a person’s well-being, whether male or female. This study, conducted in Providence, RI found that vitamin D deficiency was discovered pretty much across the boards and was almost evenly distributed between both the male and female subjects studied with the males showing somewhat higher vitamin D deficiencies than the females. Lack of vitamin D poses serious health consequences over the long term and is therefore something for which all physicians should screen.
The researchers treated each of these individuals with a regimen of vitamin D supplements and retested them following treatment. They discovered that only about 28% of the participants in the study had achieved normal vitamin D levels. The researchers speculated that the teens’ bodies may not have shown much response to treatment because vitamin D is sequestered in fat. It suggested that physicians should begin to carefully monitor their obese patients for vitamin D deficiency in order to ward off some of the long-term complications that a lack of vitamin D causes.
This is a serious health concern because approximately 16% of adolescents in the United Kingdom are obese. They are at risk for a wide range of potential health problems, including some cancers. Obesity in teens has been linked to a lack of vigorous exercise and the researchers were unclear if a lack of outdoor sun exposure which would follow for teens who do not participate in outdoor sporting activities, was also causing the vitamin D deficiency they discovered.
Many teens nowadays are vegetarians and this type of diet can also contribute to a lack of vitamin D because vitamin D is founding fish oil, egg yolks, fish, beef liver, some cheese, and some types of grain all of which might be lacking in a teen’s vegetarian diet.
Considering the serious health problems that vitamin D deficiency causes, these finding should raise the flag of concern amongst health care providers around the world. With the obesity rates of teenagers on the rise every year, this is indeed a cause for great concern. Teens are routinely being diagnosed with problems more frequently only seen in older adults such as Type I Diabetes which is also a serious health problem.
Teens who show a lack of vitamin D should be encouraged to engage in more outdoor activities, including sports, and to consume more vitamin D rich foods. Physicians should consider referring them to a nutritionist for guidance on how to add vitamin D rich foods to their diets.