Can Vitamin D Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes in Obese Kids?Lizzie Heiselt
I hope I’m not saying anything too controversial when I mention that we, as a nation, are raising a bunch of fat kids. It’s true and it’s sad. We’re setting a bad example for our children and we’re setting them up for a lifetime of health problems.
Did you know that our children may be the first generation whose life expectancy is shorter than their parents’?
Did you know that overweight and obese children worry more and suffer more psychological problems than their normal weight peers?
Shall I list the many diseases and cancers that are associated with carrying around too much weight? There are a lot of them . . . . (Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, stroke, heart disease, osteoarthritis, breast cancer, liver cancer, colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, to name a few.)
Or maybe I should cut to the good news, the news that there is something, something very small, that can at least help out some of these children a little bit. And that is this: Make sure these kids receive enough vitamin D. It can decrease their risk of developing diabetes.
Researchers at the University of Missouri found that adding a vitamin D supplement to the diet of obese kids had nearly as great an impact on their bodies’ ability to process insulin as prescription drugs did. “We saw a decrease in insulin levels, which means better glucose control, despite no changes in body weight, dietary intake or physical activity,” said Catherine Peterson, an associate professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at MU. Obese kids are especially prone to being vitamin D deficient because they have more fat. The vitamin D, rather than being processed and used by their bodies to build healthy bones, muscles, and nerves, just gets stored in their fat tissue. Obese kids need more vitamin D to get the same benefits as normal weight kids.
And while it is great news that a such a small thing can have an impact on the health of our children, it’s even better news is that vitamin D is easily accessible. It’s available through supplements, fortified food like milk and cereals, or by adding oily fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, or bluefish to their diet. However, an even easier source of vitamin D is both readily available, abundant supply, and free: the sun. Simply taking a short (5-10 minute) walk outside a few times a week in the summer, unprotected from the sun’s rays, can stock vitamin D stores for an entire year, says vitamin D expert Dr. Michael Holick of Boston University.
Amazing, right? And not only do those short walks help stock our kids with vitamin D to help them manage their blood sugar levels and grow strongbodies, it gets them outside and moving around, another great way to help them manage their health.
Let’s hear it for vitamin D!