October 16, 2008

Vitamin D and Diabetes May be Linked

Research is snowballing pointing to deficient vitamin D levels as one factor contributing to the onset of both type 1 and 2 diabetes.

Vitamin D’s chief role is to promote the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, essential nutrients in the health of bones, teeth and muscles, like the heart. Vitamin D is in some foods, with the best bang being vitamin D fortified milk. But with children and adults drinking less milk, vitamin D intake has plummeted.

The other source of vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight. And due to the warnings about skin cancer, people use sunscreens and stay covered up. The result: less exposure to sun and the opportunity to make vitamin D. So, it’s no wonder an increasing number of children and adults have either deficient or insufficient vitamin D levels (checked by a specific blood test).

Particular to type 1 diabetes, researchers have shown a reduction in the incidence in children who were supplemented with vitamin D and/or in children who were exposed to the sun more. It’s known that Finnish children have a higher rate of type 1 diabetes than children living closer to the equator and the incidence of type 1 increases in the colder months.

These findings and others have just (10/13/08) been translated into a new vitamin D guideline from the American Academy of Pediatrics: 400 IU/day (from 200 IU) for infants, children and adolescents. The AAP suggests that adults should help children increase their intake of vitamin D from foods and consider the use of a vitamin D supplement to reach this recommended level. Read the new AAPguideline.

Particular to type 2 diabetes, data is accumulating to link deficient vitamin D as an independent factor in the increased incidence of metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Deficient vitamin D seems to damage the insulin making cells in the pancreas (beta cells) and impair the output of insulin.

Read more about the link between vitamin D and diabetes in a recently published e-zine on PRESENTDiabetes.com. Enjoy my other e-zines as well. Then learn more about taking a practical approach to eating healthy with diabetes by purchasing Diabetes Meal Planning Made Easy .