It is a fact that a high fat diet can cause metabolic syndrome, which is a set of symptoms that are risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. Scientists have now revealed that vitamin D deficiency is required for this syndrome to develop in mice, along with underlying disturbances in gut bacteria.
Once these findings are confirmed in humans, sun bathing and vitamin D supplements may be possible preventive strategies and inexpensive approaches can help prevent or even treat metabolic syndrome.
The study was conducted by Professor Stephen Pandol, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, USA, in collaboration with Yuan-Ping Han’s research group at Sichuan University, China. Professor Stephen Pandol explains that, “According to this study, we consider that maintaining vitamin D levels high, either through exposure to sunlight, diet or supplementation, is helpful to prevent and treat metabolic syndrome.”
Nearly a quarter of the world’s adult population is affected by metabolic syndrome, and it is known as a set of risk factors that leads to diabetes and heart disease. Typical symptoms include obesity, increased waistline and at least two of the following: high blood sugar levels, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. People with metabolic syndrome commonly have excess fat in their liver.
High fat or carbohydrate diet appears to be the major cause of metabolic syndrome. But observational studies have also connected metabolic syndrome to vitamin D deficiency. About 30 to 60% of the global population is affected by this deficiency.
The study made significant progress in understanding the connection between vitamin D and metabolic syndrome. Pandol mentioned, An adequate dietary vitamin D supplement can partly but considerably provoke metabolic syndrome caused by high fat diet in mice. These are amounts equal to the human dietary recommendations.
In particular, the study has shown that a high fat diet influences the balance between good and bad bacteria in the gut. This stimulates modest fatty liver and raises blood sugar levels to a little amount in mice. Notably, an inadequate supply of vitamin D worsens the imbalance in gut flora, which eventually leads to fatty liver and, in turn, results in metabolic syndrome.
Vitamin D deficiency and defensins
Vitamin D deficiency reduces the production of anti-microbila molecules called defensins which are required to keep healthy gut flora. An oral supply of synthetic defensin could recover gut bacteria imbalance, reduce blood sugar levels and improve fatty liver, as expected.
Summing up, a high fat diet alone is not sufficient enough to cause metabolic syndrome but it is required for the condition to occur in combination with vitamin D deficiency. Therefore, vitamin D supplementation relieves metabolic syndrome in mice. Further research would be needed to confirm findings in humans.
“Some studies have described that vitamin D supplementation may not treat metabolic disorders in humans. However, these studies are highly based on long-term surveys, which may be hindered by improper compliance and inadequate dosage,” says Hans.
He stays optimistic that the results of their study can be verified in humans. “We are setting up a clinical study to verify the connection of vitamin D deficiency with the disruption of gut bacteria, and its relationship with metabolic syndrome,” describes Han.
We hope that his study provides beneficial results so that treating metabolic syndrome will be easier and affordable. For more interesting insights on medical research, visit our site and subscribe to our newsletter.