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Table of Contents
Year : 2014  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 89-93

Vitamin D and insulin resistance in postmenopausal Indian women

1 Apollo Centre for Obesity, Diabetes and Endocrinology, IP Apollo Hospital, Sarita Vihar, New Delhi, India
2 Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Medanta, The Medicity, Gurgaon, Haryana, India
3 Department of Endocrinology, Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India

Date of Web Publication6-Feb-2014

Correspondence Address:
Niti Agarwal
Apollo Centre for Obesity, Diabetes and Endocrinology, IP Apollo Hospital, Sarita Vihar, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2230-8210.126583

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Purpose: The purpose of this study is to investigate the association of the serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) level with markers of insulin resistance (IR) in postmenopausal Indian women. Materials and Methods: This was a cross-sectional study, conducted at a Tertiary Care Hospital in New Delhi, India. Seventy one postmenopausal women (mean age 56.3 ± 7.6 years) were enrolled. Exclusion criteria were known or newly detected diabetics, subjects with chronic renal failure, chronic liver disease or any other chronic inflammatory condition, chronic smokers and chronic alcoholics. Serum calcium (and albumin for calculating corrected calcium), phosphorus, alkaline phosphatase and 25-OHD were measured as parameters of calcium homeostasis. Fasting blood glucose (FBG), systolic and diastolic blood pressures, body mass index (BMI), fasting serum insulin, calculated glucose insulin ratio (GIR), and homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) were studied as parameters of IR. Data was then analyzed for statistical significance. Results: The mean serum 25-OHD level was 12.73 ± 7.63 ng/ml. The mean BMI was 27.78 ± 5.37 kg/m 2 . The mean calculated GIR was 13.14 ± 9.39 and HOMA-IR was 2.31 ± 1.70. Serum 25-OHD was inversely correlated with BMI (correlation coefficient −0.234, P value 0.050) and with HOMA-IR (correlation coefficient −0.237, P value 0.047). However, when 25-OHD was adjusted for BMI the correlation between 25-OHD and HOMA-IR lost its significance. No correlation was found between serum 25-OHD and any other parameters of IR studied. Conclusions: There is a significant negative linear correlation between 25-OHD and BMI. The significant negative linear correlation between 25-OHD and HOMA-IR was confounded by BMI. There is no correlation between 25-OHD and parameters of IR.

Keywords: Body mass index, homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance, postmenopausal women, 25-hydroxy vitamin D3

How to cite this article:
Agarwal N, Mithal A, Kaur P, Dhingra V, Godbole M M, Shukla M. Vitamin D and insulin resistance in postmenopausal Indian women. Indian J Endocr Metab 2014;18:89-93

How to cite this URL:
Agarwal N, Mithal A, Kaur P, Dhingra V, Godbole M M, Shukla M. Vitamin D and insulin resistance in postmenopausal Indian women. Indian J Endocr Metab [serial online] 2014 [cited 2021 Mar 1];18:89-93. Available from: https://www.ijem.in/text.asp?2014/18/1/89/126583

   Introduction Top

As early as 1989, Lind et al. [1] showed in a small cohort that there was a positive relationship between the tissue insulin sensitivity and the serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD). Later, several epidemiologic studies have suggested that 25-OHD status is inversely associated with metabolic syndrome in Western populations. [1],[2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8],[9] Nevertheless, evidence from the Asian population is limited. Because of ethnic differences in vitamin D metabolism and its nutritional status as indicated by previous studies, [2],[10] it is not clear whether the findings from Western populations could be extrapolated directly to Asian individuals.

This study was thus intended to evaluate the association of insulin resistance (IR) with vitamin D status in postmenopausal Indian women.

   Materials and Methods Top

We conducted a cross-sectional study at a Tertiary Care Hospital at New Delhi, India (Latitude 28°38'N and longitude 77°17'E).


Ethical Committee approval was sought from the institutional review board.

Study design

Selection and description of participants

A total of 71 postmenopausal women (mean age 56.3 ± 7.6 years) were enrolled. Subjects with chronic renal failure, chronic liver disease or any other chronic inflammatory condition, chronic smokers and chronic alcoholics were not included as they could potentially alter the IR. Subjects who were known diabetics or who were found to have fasting blood glucose (FBG) in the diabetic range were also excluded. Samples were drawn in the months of October or November. All subjects enrolled underwent detailed history and physical examination including body mass index (BMI) calculation. Serum calcium (and albumin for calculating corrected serum calcium), phosphorus, alkaline phosphatase and 25-OHD were measured as parameters of calcium homeostasis. FBG and fasting serum insulin were measured at induction. FBG, systolic and diastolic blood pressures, BMI, fasting serum insulin, calculated glucose insulin ratio (GIR) and homeostatic model of assessment of Insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) were studied as parameters of IR.

Technical information

Peripheral venous blood was drawn in the fasting state without a tourniquet. Serum calcium, albumin, phosphorus, alkaline phosphatase, blood glucose and serum insulin were measured using automated analyzer at an accredited local laboratory. Samples for 25-OHD were stored at −20°C and were transported to a central academic laboratory after 3 months for analysis. All samples were evaluated in duplicate and mean of the values taken for statistical analysis. 25-OHD was measured using DiaSorin Inc, Stillwater, MN 55082-0285, kit, manufactured in USA and imported by collaborating academic institute, normal range 9.3-37.9 ng/ml. The sensitivity of this assay is 1.5 ng/ml, within-run coefficient of variation (CV) is 10.5% and the total imprecision CV is 8.2% at 22.7 ng/ml.

Statistical methods

Data was analyzed for the statistical significance using Pearson's correlation, considering it significant at the P < 0.05.

   Results Top

The mean ± standard deviation (SD) levels of the parameters studied are shown in [Table 1]. In the study cohort, only 5.6% subjects (4/71) had normal 25-OHD level (taken as being >30 ng/ml) and 7.0% (5/71) had vitamin D insufficiency (25-OHD levels between 20 and 30 ng/ml) while 87.3% (62/71) were vitamin D deficient (<20 ng/ml). [11]
Table 1: Mean±SD of the various parameters studied

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Interestingly, more than 81% (58/71) of the study subjects were overweight (BMI ≥23 kg/m²) according to the WHO criteria for Asians. [12] Four were pre-obese (BMI 23-24.9 kg/m²), 31 had obesity grade I (BMI 25-29.9 kg/m²), 23 had obesity grade II (BMI >30 kg/m²).

25-OHD was found to have significant negative linear correlation with BMI [correlation coefficient −0.234 and P value 00.050, [Figure 1] and HOMA-IR [correlation coefficient −0.237 and P value 0.047, [Figure 2]. When the correlation was studied after removal of one outlier value of HOMA-IR and adjustment of 25-OHD for BMI, this significant correlation was lost.
Figure 1: Correlation between 25-hydroxyvitamin D and body mass index

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Figure 2: Correlation between 25-hydroxyvitamin D and homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance

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25-OHD was not found to be correlated with any of the other parameters of IR studied including GIR.

   Discussion Top

Key findings

The very high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency (87.3%) is consistent with previous reports of very prevalent vitamin D deficiency in India. [13],[14],[15],[16],[17],[18],[19] 25-OHD was not found to have significant correlation with parameters of IR.

Strengths and limitations

Our study demonstrated point prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and its association with obesity in postmenopausal women. However, it was limited by the small number of subjects. The parameters studied were limited due to logistic constraints. Also, only patients who were known diabetics or who were diagnosed as having diabetes on the basis of FBG were excluded. The cohort could have included individuals with impaired glucose tolerance with possible abnormalities in insulin secretion.

Interpretation and implications and future research directions

The fact that in our study, more than 81% (58/71) of the study subjects were overweight (BMI ≥25 kg/m 2 ) probably reflects that menopause is associated with metabolic changes contributing to increased cardiovascular risk. Weight gain frequently occurs in perimenopausal women not receiving hormone replacement therapy. This is mainly attributed to an increase in body fat, which is concentrated in the abdomen (android) rather than peripherally (gynoid). Increased BMI tends to reduce the insulin sensitivity and increase systolic blood pressure. [20],[21]

In our study, 25-OHD did not correlate significantly with any of the other parameters of IR studied including. The initial significant correlation between 25-OHD and HOMA-IR was probably because it is a fat soluble vitamin and obesity was a confounder. This correlation was lost after adjustment for BMI.

The current literature supports an inverse relationship between 25-OHD and components of the metabolic syndrome, including high blood glucose concentration, IR, dyslipidemia, elevated blood pressure, abdominal obesity [22] and a positive correlation with insulin sensitivity with a negative effect of hypovitaminosis D on β-cell function. [2] In a study conducted among the Hispanic and African Americans as part of the Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis family study, vitamin D levels were inversely associated with baseline BMI and adipose tissue (subcutaneous and visceral) in both the populations. [23] In a similar study, BMI was found to be negatively related to 25-OHD, the prevalence of 25-OHD deficiency (defined by the authors as 25-OHD <8.8 ng/ml) increased from 8.8% in subjects with BMI <30 kg/m² to 15.0% in subjects with BMI >30 kg/m². [9] This relationship between 25-OHD and percentage body fat (measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) persisted significantly after adjusting for race, age, season and dietary vitamin D intake. [8]

Some of such data comes from Asian population. In a study conducted among middle aged and elderly Chinese adults, 25-OHD was negatively associated with fasting insulin and HOMA-IR and the associations were stronger among overweight and obese subjects. [5]

However, all the available literature is not in unison. Data from the Women's Health Study suggested that neither total nor supplemental vitamin D was significantly associated with metabolic syndrome. Dietary vitamin D was inversely associated with the prevalence of metabolic syndrome, but was not independent of total calcium intake. Strong relations between intakes of dairy products and metabolic syndrome were also observed. [24] Similarly, contradicting results were found from data from the Rancho Bernardo study. [6] Neither Parathormone (PTH) in women nor 25-OHD levels in either sex were related to the metabolic syndrome. There was a significant trend of increasing adjusted odds for metabolic syndrome with increasing PTH concentrations. 25-OHD levels are significantly inversely associated with blood pressure in Hispanic and African Americans. However, this association was not significant after adjustment for BMI. [6]

It is interesting to note however that supplementation with vitamin D improves insulin sensitivity as observed in some studies. However, some studies also showed that supplementation with calcium and/or vitamin D did not reduce the risk of developing diabetes nor reduced blood pressure or the risk of developing hypertension. [24],[25]

Obesity is associated with alterations in the vitamin D physiology as seen from our and some previous studies. [5] There is not enough data to establish a cause and effect relationship between obesity and vitamin D levels or IR and vitamin D. Lower levels of serum 25-OHD in obese individuals may be secondary to an alteration in tissue distribution resulting from an increase in adipose mass. Vitamin D being fat soluble gets accumulated in the adipose tissue and less is bioavailable for action at other sites. Therefore, it is difficult to conclude that the serum levels of 25-OHD actually reflect the true circulating levels in the obese. Also, morbidly obese individuals are expected to need higher doses of vitamin D supplementation than the general population. Further studies will be required in this direction. Furthermore, it needs to be established whether it is the dietary calcium and/or vitamin D or its total circulating level, which is affected as seen in some studies. [4]

It is believed that other important factors determining serum 25-OHD vitamin D level are race and ethnicity. In this regard, there is a higher prevalence of hypovitaminosis D in ethnic populations such as African-Americans, Hispanics, etc., who are at greater risk of IR, obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases than Caucasians. [26] National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III data did not show any significant association between 25-OHD and IR (homeostasis model of assessment for IR) in African-Americans, but showed significant association in Caucasians and Hispanic-Americans. [26]

Given the fact that 25-OHD levels are related to vitamin D polymorphism, [27] it may be postulated that the differences among race and ethnicity and variability of results may be due to Vitamin D receptor polymorphism.

   Conclusion Top

Data from our study suggest that the correlations between 25-OHD and HOMA-IR are secondary to increased adiposity.

   References Top

1.Lind L, Pollare T, Hvarfner A, Lithell H, Sørensen OH, Ljunghall S. Long-term treatment with active vitamin D (alphacalcidol) in middle-aged men with impaired glucose tolerance. Effects on insulin secretion and sensitivity, glucose tolerance and blood pressure. Diabetes Res 1989;11:141-7.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Chiu KC, Chu A, Go VL, Saad MF. Hypovitaminosis D is associated with insulin resistance and beta cell dysfunction. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;79:820-5.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Forouhi NG, Luan J, Cooper A, Boucher BJ, Wareham NJ. Baseline serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D is predictive of future glycemic status and insulin resistance: The medical research council Ely prospective study 1990-2000. Diabetes 2008;57:2619-25.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Liu S, Song Y, Ford ES, Manson JE, Buring JE, Ridker PM. Dietary calcium, vitamin D, and the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in middle-aged and older U.S. women. Diabetes Care 2005;28:2926-32.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Lu L, Yu Z, Pan A, Hu FB, Franco OH, Li H, et al. Plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration and metabolic syndrome among middle-aged and elderly Chinese individuals. Diabetes Care 2009;32:1278-83.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Reis JP, von Mühlen D, Kritz-Silverstein D, Wingard DL, Barrett-Connor E. Vitamin D, parathyroid hormone levels, and the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in community-dwelling older adults. Diabetes Care 2007;30:1549-55.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Schmitz KJ, Skinner HG, Bautista LE, Fingerlin TE, Langefeld CD, Hicks PJ, et al. Association of 25-hydroxyvitamin D with blood pressure in predominantly 25-hydroxyvitamin D deficient Hispanic and African Americans. Am J Hypertens 2009;22:867-70.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Arunabh S, Pollack S, Yeh J, Aloia JF. Body fat content and 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels in healthy women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2003;88:157-61.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Bischof MG, Heinze G, Vierhapper H. Vitamin D status and its relation to age and body mass index. Horm Res 2006;66:211-5.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Margolis KL, Ray RM, Van Horn L, Manson JE, Allison MA, Black HR, et al. Effect of calcium and vitamin D supplementation on blood pressure: The women's health initiative randomized trial. Hypertension 2008;52:847-55.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Dawson-Hughes B, Mithal A, Bonjour JP, Boonen S, Burckhardt P, Fuleihan GE, et al. IOF position statement: Vitamin D recommendations for older adults. Osteoporos Int 2010;21:1151-4.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Steering Committee of the Western Pacific Region of the World Health Organization, the International Association for the Study of Obesity, the International Obesity Task Force: The Asia-Pacific perspective: redefining obesity and its treatment. February 2000. Published by Health Communications Australia Pty Limited on behalf of the Steering Committee. Available at http://www.vepachedu.org/TSJ/BMI-Guidelines.pdf. Downloaded on 26.07.2012.  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Harinarayan CV. Prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in postmenopausal south Indian women. Osteoporos Int 2005;16:397-402.  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Harinarayan CV, Ramalakshmi T, Prasad UV, Sudhakar D. Vitamin D status in Andhra Pradesh: A population based study. Indian J Med Res 2008;127:211-8.  Back to cited text no. 14
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15.Sahu M, Bhatia V, Aggarwal A, Rawat V, Saxena P, Pandey A, et al. Vitamin D deficiency in rural girls and pregnant women despite abundant sunshine in northern India. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf) 2009;70:680-4.  Back to cited text no. 15
16.Goswami R, Kochupillai N, Gupta N, Goswami D, Singh N, Dudha A. Presence of 25(OH) D deficiency in a rural North Indian village despite abundant sunshine. J Assoc Physicians India 2008;56:755-7.  Back to cited text no. 16
17.Goswami R, Marwaha RK, Gupta N, Tandon N, Sreenivas V, Tomar N, et al. Prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and its relationship with thyroid autoimmunity in Asian Indians: A community-based survey. Br J Nutr 2009;102:382-6.  Back to cited text no. 17
18.Malhotra N, Mithal A, Gupta S, Shukla M, Godbole M. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on bone health parameters of healthy young Indian women. Arch Osteoporos 2009;4:47-53.  Back to cited text no. 18
19.Tandon N, Marwaha RK, Kalra S, Gupta N, Dudha A, Kochupillai N. Bone mineral parameters in healthy young Indian adults with optimal vitamin D availability. Natl Med J India 2003;16:298-302.  Back to cited text no. 19
20.Gambacciani M, Ciaponi M, Cappagli B, De Simone L, Orlandi R, Genazzani AR. Prospective evaluation of body weight and body fat distribution in early postmenopausal women with and without hormonal replacement therapy. Maturitas 2001;39:125-32.  Back to cited text no. 20
21.Matthews KA, Meilahn E, Kuller LH, Kelsey SF, Caggiula AW, Wing RR. Menopause and risk factors for coronary heart disease. N Engl J Med 1989;321:641-6.  Back to cited text no. 21
22.Martini LA, Wood RJ. Vitamin D status and the metabolic syndrome. Nutr Rev 2006;64:479-86.  Back to cited text no. 22
23.Young KA, Engelman CD, Langefeld CD, Hairston KG, Haffner SM, Bryer-Ash M, et al. Association of plasma vitamin D levels with adiposity in Hispanic and African Americans. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2009;94:3306-13.  Back to cited text no. 23
24.de Boer IH, Tinker LF, Connelly S, Curb JD, Howard BV, Kestenbaum B, et al. Calcium plus vitamin D supplementation and the risk of incident diabetes in the women's health initiative. Diabetes Care 2008;31:701-7.  Back to cited text no. 24
25.Pan WH, Wang CY, Li LA, Kao LS, Yeh SH. No significant effect of calcium and vitamin D supplementation on blood pressure and calcium metabolism in elderly Chinese. Chin J Physiol 1993;36:85-94.  Back to cited text no. 25
26.Scragg R, Sowers M, Bell C, Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D, diabetes, and ethnicity in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Diabetes Care 2004;27:2813-8.  Back to cited text no. 26
27.Wehr E, Trummer O, Giuliani A, Gruber HJ, Pieber TR, Obermayer-Pietsch B. Vitamin D-associated polymorphisms are related to insulin resistance and vitamin D deficiency in polycystic ovary syndrome. Eur J Endocrinol 2011;164:741-9.  Back to cited text no. 27


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]

  [Table 1]

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