Vitamins are substances found in food, or in the case of vitamin D, in sunshine. Their purpose is to help maintain different bodily functions. Vitamin D helps strengthen bones, vitamin A maintains eye health, vitamin C supports the immune system and B vitamins help the body produce protein. KidsHealth reports that you can get all of the vitamins you need from your diet. By not eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other healthy foods, you could be depriving yourself of essential vitamins.
Vitamins are especially crucial for growing children. In America, 70 percent of kids are not getting enough vitamin D, according to a 2009 CNN article. Worldwide, 250 million children don’t get enough vitamin A. In 2008, researchers from McGill University Health Center in California found that insufficient vitamin D nourishment can cause weight gain in pubescent girls. In a 2011 study of children between the ages of 8 and 18, researchers from University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that low levels of vitamin D are associated with a higher body mass index.
Vitamin deficiency has been found in nearly a third of U.S. senior citizens over the age of 75, according to the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. At this age, vitamin deficiency can occur from failure to eat a variety of foods and an inability to absorb micronutrients. The vitamins senior citizens are most at risk for deficiency include B12, folate and vitamin D, all of which, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements, can cause loss of appetite and weight loss. But weight gain for senior citizens is not uncommon. A study published in the “Archives of Internal Medicine” in 1991 found that menopausal women gain an average of 6 to 9 lbs. Of the women studied, 20 percent gained more than 9 lbs. Menopause generally begins and ends between ages 45 and 55. A 1997 study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” found that men tend to gain the most weight in their 50s, and while they lose weight and muscle mass with age, they tend to gain the weight around the waistline.
It might not be a vitamin deficiency that prevents you from dropping those extra pounds, but rather an existing weight problem that causes your body to essentially hoard fat-soluble vitamins and prevent absorption. In 2009, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that excess body fat can absorb and hold onto vitamin D, preventing the body from getting the micronutrient. Low levels of vitamin D can also interfere with a hormone that sends a signal to your brain whenever you’re full, which can cause overeating.
An overall vitamin deficiency might not cause weight gain on its own, but it can lead to health problems that have been linked to weight gain. The Mayo Clinic reports that low levels of B-12, B-6 and folate -- vitamins that play a role in mood and brain chemical production -- could be linked to depression, which has been known to interfere with daily activities, including exercise, and can also lead to overeating and excessive alcohol use, all of which can cause weight gain. People who don’t eat healthy, vitamin-rich foods also tend to consume more processed, high-calorie foods that have been linked to overweight and obesity.
- KidsHealth; "Vitamins"; January 2011
- MedlinePlus: Vitamins
- “Archives of Internal Medicine”; "Weight Gain at the Time of Menopause"; "R.R. Wing"; January 1991
- Berkeley Lab; "Middle-Age Weight Gain: Men Unlikely to Outrun it"; Jeffery Kahn; April 1997
- CNN Health; "Vitamin D Deficiency Common in U.S. Children"; August 2009
- EurekAlert; "Lack of Vitamin D Causes Weight Gain and Stunts Growth in Girls"; December 2008
- Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.