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New research shows Vitamin D insufficiency is linked to increased body fat, decreased muscle strength—and a range of disorders.

The study by Dr. Richard Kremer, co-director of the Musculoskeletal Axis of the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, and co-investigator Dr. Vincente Gilsanz, head of musculoskeletal imaging at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles of the University of Southern California, is the first to show a clear link between Vitamin D levels and the accumulation of fat in muscle tissue—a factor in muscle strength and overall health.

Scientists already knew that Vitamin D is essential for muscle strength, according to a McGill University Health Centre
press release, and studies in the elderly have showed bedridden patients quickly gain strength when given Vitamin D.

“Because[Vitamin D] it is linked to increased body fat, it may affect many different parts of the body,” said Kremer. “Abnormal levels of Vitamin D are associated with a whole spectrum of diseases, including cancer, osteoporosis and diabetes, as well as cardiovascular and autoimmune disorders.”

The study results are “especially surprising,” the press release noted, because the study subjects were all healthy young women living in California. who could logically be expected to benefit from good diet, outdoor activities and ample exposure to sunshine (the trigger that causes the body to produce Vitamin D).

“We are not yet sure what is causing Vitamin D insufficiency in this group,” said Dr. Kremer, who is also Professor of Medicine at McGill University.

The study was published in the March 2010 Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

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