Vitamin D for Diabetes

Vitamin D, previously shown to benefit cancer, osteoporosis and heart disease, appears to prevent or delay the inception of diabetes, and to alleviate its symptoms among those already afflicted with it, according to a recent review of various studies.     “Vitamin D has widespread benefits for our health and certain chronic diseases in particular,” said Sue Penckofer, review co-author and a professor at Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. “This article [in the journal Diabetes Educator ] further substantiates the role of this nutrient in the prevention and management of glucose intolerance and diabetes.”

Previous research suggests that vitamin D has a key role to play in insulin sensitivity and secretion. So it’s far from surprising that many of the 23 million diabetics in America have low vitamin D levels. A deficiency of vitamin D comes partly from lack of exposure to sunlight, which is especially a problem during the winter months, and from poor nutrition, which is rampant among diabetics.
In one study examined by the reviewers, scientists found that, among 3,000 people with type 1 diabetes, those who took vitamin D supplements had diminished disease symptoms. Other studies of patients with type 2 diabetes had similar results.

“Management of vitamin D deficiency may be a simple and cost-effective method to improve blood sugar control and prevent the serious complications associated with diabetes,” said Joanne Kouba, study co-author and clinical assistant professor of dietetics at Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing.
The best way to get to an optimal blood vitamin D level, the reviewers said, would be through a combination of consuming vitamin D in the diet, exposure to sunlight, and taking vitamin D2 or D3 supplements.
“People at risk for diabetes should be screened for low vitamin D levels,” said Mary Ann Emanuele, study co-author and professor of medicine at Loyola University Health System. “This will allow health care professionals to identify a nutrient deficiency early on and intervene to improve the long-term health of these individuals.”


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