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A large percentage of the population would benefit from higher levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D plays an essential role in the prevention of some 20 common cancers, the prevention of bone problems, modulation of neuromuscular and immune function, reduction of inflammation, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes. Vitamin D also seems to improve infertility, weight control and memory.
 

The D story

Vitamin D and Diabetes

The number of diseases and conditions that seem to be linked in some way to vitamin D is both alarming and overwhelming. Luckily, there is a lot of research happening out there to figure a lot of this out. Vitamin D research is still in an early enough stage that much of it is still just discovering the various things that vitamin D is associated with in some way. The scientists call that a correlation, but in many cases (right now it feels like most cases) we still don’t know the nature of the relationship in enough detail to talk about causation. For example, in this article we’re going to go over some of the studies that show a pretty clear correlation or link between low vitamin D levels and people who suffer from diabetes. But what we don’t know yet is if vitamin D deficiency/insufficiency is a cause of diabetes, a result of diabetes, or has some other form of relationship to it.

Australian Children and Adolescents with Type 1 Diabetes Have Lower Vitamin D Levels than Non-Diabetics. This one is important because whereas this correlation has been shown in studies in northern latitudes where sunshine is less available, this study confirmed that there are lower vitamin D levels among diabetic children even in an environmental where there is plenty of available sunshine. The average level for the diabetic children was 31.5 ng/ml (78.7 nmol/l) while the non-diabetics averaged 36.6 ng/ml (91.4 nmol/l). It is interesting to note that the average vitamin D level of diabetic children bordered on insufficient (if defined as 21-29 ng/ml). These were averages, but there were no “wildcards” in terms of outliers.

Australian Diabetic Pregnant Women Have Lower Vitamin D Levels than Non-Diabetid Pregnant Women. This study showed that among pregnant women with pre-existing or gestational diabetes, 81.2% had sufficient vitamin D, 11.9% were insufficient, and 6.9% were deficient. While those figures aren’t especially alarming, it is significant to note that amongst the population of pregnant women in general for the area studied, 93.1% have sufficient levels of vitamin D.

Saudi Arabian Adult Diabetics More Likely to Have Lower Vitamin D Levels than Non-Diabetics. This is another one that’s important in terms of showing the link between vitamin D and diabetes even in a sun-rich environment. Both groups had real deficiency problems, but the diabetics definitely had it worse, with an average level of 11.3 ng/ml (28.1 nmol/l) versus the non-diabetics at 13.4 ng/ml (33.4 nmol/l). These levels are extremely low compared the ones mentioned in the first study above. The way the researchers characterized these deficient levels was as follows: In the diabetic adults, 66.7% were mildly, 31.7% moderately and 3.3% severely vitamin D deficient as compared with 41.7% (mildly), 31.7% (moderately), and 5% (severely) in the non-diabetics.

The links are there, but more research is needed to reveal the nature of the relationship between vitamin D and diabetes.

Sources for Further Reading:

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