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Deficiency of This Vitamin Worsens Metabolic Disease

Metabolic Disease

Metabolic syndrome is the name given to a group of symptoms that increase your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help reduce your risk.


A diet high in fat is one trigger for metabolic syndrome, as it contributes in many ways – potential weight gain, especially in the abdominal area, and increasing cholesterol levels, a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. But your diet is more than just fat or carbs or protein – ensuring sufficient amounts of essential vitamins and minerals are also important.

New research suggests that a deficiency in Vitamin D may contribute to metabolic syndrome. Professor Stephen Pandol at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center says a high fat diet affects the balance between good and bad bacteria in the gut. Not having enough vitamin D can further aggravate this imbalance in gut flora which contributes to fatty liver.

Vitamin D deficiency decreases the production of defensins, anti-microbial molecules which are essential for healthy gut flora maintenance.

"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," says Professor Pandol.

The five conditions described below are metabolic risk factors. You can have any one of these risk factors by itself, but they tend to occur together. You must have at least three metabolic risk factors to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.

• A large waistline (abdominal obesity). Excess fat in the stomach area is a greater risk factor for heart disease than excess fat in other parts of the body, such as on the hips.

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• A high triglyceride level (or you're on medicine to treat high triglycerides). Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood.

• A low HDL cholesterol level (or you're on medicine to treat low HDL cholesterol). HDL sometimes is called "good" cholesterol. This is because it helps remove cholesterol from your arteries. A low HDL cholesterol level raises your risk for heart disease.

• High blood pressure (or you're on medicine to treat high blood pressure). Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage your heart and lead to plaque buildup.

• High fasting blood sugar (or you're on medicine to treat high blood sugar). Mildly high blood sugar may be an early sign of diabetes.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in very few foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. It is also produced endogenously when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis.

Journal Reference:
Stephen J. Pandol, Yuan-Ping Han, et al. Vitamin D Signaling through Induction of Paneth Cell Defensins Maintains Gut Microbiota and Improves Metabolic Disorders and Hepatic Steatosis in Animal Models. Frontiers in Physiology, 2016; 7 DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2016.00498

Additional Resource:
National Institutes of Health: National Heart, Lung and blood Institute
National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements

Photo Credit:
By Lykaestria at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,