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.”