Vitamin D helps the body make insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar. In one new study, scientists tested the link between vitamin D levels and type 1 diabetes, a condition where the body does not produce enough insulin.
Researchers measured vitamin D levels in 128 children, aged one to 18, with type 1 diabetes and found that three in four were low or deficient in vitamin D, and that the levels declined with age. Doctors noted that instead of drinking milk, teens often drink soda, reducing vitamin D and calcium intake and weakening their bones.
In a diabetes risk analysis, researchers reviewed several studies covering 6,500 infants, one in five of whom had type 1 diabetes. Compared to babies who did not take vitamin D, babies who had a vitamin D supplement were 29 percent less likely to develop type 1 diabetes. The more vitamin D infants had, the less likely they were to have type 1 diabetes.
In a blood sugar study, doctors followed 524 non-diabetic men and women, aged 40 to 69, for 10 years and found that those with higher blood levels of vitamin D at the start of the study were more likely to avoid chronic high blood sugar and maintain normal insulin activity than those with lower vitamin D. Vitamin D levels were higher in men than women and highest in late summer in both.
In a type 2 diabetes analysis, researchers examined vitamin D levels in 1,400 men and women, aged 40 to 74. Over the next 22 years, men with the highest initial vitamin D levels were 72 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than were men with the lowest vitamin D levels.
In a diabetic pain study, doctors noted that vitamin D is often low in type 2 diabetes. For three months, 51 type 2 diabetics with nerve pain took an average 2,000 IU dose of vitamin D per day. By the end of the study, pain had declined by 40 to 50 percent, improving from “distressing” to “mild,” according to doctors.
Reference: The Journal of Pediatrics; 2009, Vol. 154, No. 1, 132-4.