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Featured Profile: Catherine Peterson

Catherine Peterson

University of Missouri nutrition researcher Dr. Catherine Peterson discovered that not all vitamin D needs are created equal.

Vitamin D does a lot for the human body. It keeps bones strong, helps muscles move and fights off bacteria and viruses. But according to the National Institutes of Health, vitamin D deficiency is common in Americans – especially in overweight and obese adolescents.

Peterson and a group of MU researchers found that obese adolescents face an increased risk for deficiency because they tend to absorb vitamin D in their fat stores, which prevents it from being utilized in their blood. When obese adolescents received a high daily dose of vitamin D3, their vitamin D status was greatly improved.

The team also found that the vitamin D supplement lowered the amount of insulin in the adolescents’ blood.  This discovery is particularly exciting since overweight and obese adolescents are at increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

“For clinicians, the main message from this research is to check the vitamin D status of their obese patients, because they’re likely to have insufficient amounts,” says Peterson.  “Adding vitamin D supplements to their diets may be an effective addition to treating obesity and its associated insulin resistance.”

Catherine Peterson is an associate professor and director of undergraduate studies for Nutrition and Exercise Physiology. She was given the Distinguished Teaching Award by the College of Human Environmental Sciences in 2014.

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Related Initiative(s):
One Health/One Medicine