A team of researchers from North Carolina State University recently published the findings of a study in which they observed how vitamin D affects growth. The study findings indicate that Vitamin D deficiency can cause stunted growth and obesity in zebrafish.
The researchers used post-juvenile zebrafish in the study, where they divided them into three groups. One group was fed with a diet deficient in Vitamin D, the second group was fed with a diet rich in vitamin D, and the third group was the control group. They ran the diets for four months, which allowed them to observe the impact of the vitamin on zebrafish growth.
During the study, the key points of focus were vitamin D, cholesterol, lipid, triglyceride, and bone density levels. The researchers also observed the metabolic pathways linked to growth promotion, fat production, mobilization, and storage. The study results show that Vitamin D is linked to critical processes such as metabolic equilibrium or homeostasis.
The research findings
Scientists observed that the vitamin D-deficient zebrafish were 50% smaller than those in the control group and the vitamin D-rich diets. The ones that were vitamin D-deficient zebrafish also had more fat reserves than their counterparts.
“The vitamin D deficient zebrafish exhibited both hypertrophy and hyperplasia—an increase in both the size and number of fat cells,” stated Dr. Seth Kullman, the lead investigator in the study.
Dr. Kullman further noted that the higher cholesterol and triglycerides vitamin D deficient zebrafish are characteristics of metabolic imbalance, which is also known to cause cardio-metabolic disease. The fact that vitamin D deficient fish also had stunted growth shows that Vitamin D is important in converting energy into growth as opposed to fat storage.
After the initial observations, the scientists switched the Vitamin D deficient zebrafish to a vitamin D enriched diet. They observed that the fish started to utilize their fat reserves and continued to grow, but they never reached the fish’s size that started with a vitamin D diet. This observation is important because it highlights the need to ensure that infants receive as much Vitamin D as possible for optimal growth.