Your body needs vitamin D—the essential sunshine vitamin—because it helps you absorb calcium for strong bones. But new research shows that this hard-to-get nutrient gets even more difficult to produce with a bigger waistline.

Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency is prevalent all over the world. One review from the International Journal of Health Sciences calls it an “epidemic.”




According to the author, over one billion people worldwide don’t get enough vitamin D, and that fact can lead to some significant health effects.

However, the problem may heighten when a person is overweight.

According to a preliminary study, people who carry excess belly fat have an increased risk for low vitamin D levels. The study based its findings on data from the Netherlands Epidemiology of Obesity study, reports HealthDay News.

Overall, both obese men and women with higher levels of belly fat showed an increased risk for deficiency.

However, men also increased their risk when they had higher total body fat. Women increased their risk when they had more fat around the liver.

What If You Don’t Get Enough Vitamin D?

Having this lower amount of vitamin D doesn’t do the body any good. People with a deficiency can’t absorb enough calcium into the bones, causing the bones to get thin and brittle.

A deficiency can also affect cell growth, amount of inflammation in the body and the immune system says the National Institutes for Health.

The study above cannot prove a cause/effect correlation between vitamin D and obesity just yet. HealthDay News reports that it was merely observational and has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

READ: Depressed? How Diet Affects Mood

However, author Rachida Rafiq says the study shows a strong relationship, so overweight people may want to get their levels checked.

Again, a concern is warranted because many people are lacking in this vital nutrient anyway. One easy way to get more vitamin D in your body is regular outside activity. If you can, aim for a midday walk to soak in more of the sun.

However, depending on where you live, outdoor activity may not be sufficient, especially in winter months. In that case, consider a vitamin D supplement. Your doctor will be able to help determine the correct amount.

Vitamin D is an important nutrient not easily obtained through food alone. People are often deficient due to insufficient diet and lack of outdoor exercise. Plus, new research suggests that obesity may factor into these deficiencies as well.

The findings from this study were presented at a meeting of the European Society of Endocrinology last week.