Sun bathing and vitamin D supplements may be feasible and affordable approaches to improve or even prevent metabolic syndromes which pose a risk of diabetes and heart disease, a new study has claimed.
It is well known that a diet high in fat can trigger a metabolic syndrome. Scientists have now discovered that vitamin D deficiency is necessary for this syndrome to progress in mice, with underlying disturbances in gut bacteria.
“Based on this study, we believe that keeping vitamin D levels high, either through sun exposure, diet or supplementation, is beneficial for prevention and treatment of metabolic syndrome,” said Stephen Pandol from Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in the US.
Metabolic syndrome affects nearly a quarter of the world’s adult population, and it is defined by a group of risk factors that put you on the road to diabetes and heart disease.
The characteristic symptoms include obesity around the waistline and at least two of the following: high blood sugar levels, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Sufferers usually also have excess fat in their liver.
The main cause of metabolic syndrome appears to be a diet high in fat or carbohydrate. However, observational studies have also linked metabolic syndrome to vitamin D deficiency, which affects 30-60 per cent of the world’s population.
Researchers made important advances in understanding the causative role of vitamin D in this syndrome. “A sufficient dietary vitamin D supplement can partially but significantly antagonise metabolic syndrome caused by high fat diet in mice. These are amounts equivalent to the dietary
recommendations for humans,” said Pandol.
More specifically, they have shown that a high fat diet affects the balance between good and bad bacteria in the gut. This induces modest fatty liver and slightly raises blood sugar levels in mice.
Remarkably, an insufficient supply of vitamin D aggravates the imbalance in gut flora, contributing to full-scale fatty liver and metabolic syndrome. The study appears in the journal Frontiers in Physiology.