Diabetes is a growing epidemic, with a recent report announcing that 366 million people worldwide are diabetic. Therefore, it is important to find ways to prevent developing diabetes in the first place. Fortunately a new study may have found a key tool in diabetes prevention. When you think of vitamin D, you may think its effects on bone health, but this recent research shows that having adequate vitamin D intake could help you to prevent developing Type 2 diabetes.
Insulin is a hormone that is produced by your pancreas and helps control your blood sugar level. Lack of insulin in your body, in addition to the cells not responding well to insulin present (insulin resistance) occurs in Type 2 diabetes, which is the most common form of diabetes. Previous research showed that people who develop type 2 diabetes tend to have low levels of vitamin D and calcium in the body. In this study, however, researchers looked to see what happens when those who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes received supplementation of vitamin D and calcium to increase their levels in their bodies.
When the participants were given supplements of vitamin D, calcium, and placebo, those that received vitamin D supplementation with or without calcium had improved insulin secretion and sensitivity and their blood glucose levels increased less. Calcium also increased insulin secretion, but overall vitamin D’s benefits were more significant.
Risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include being overweight and having high blood sugar levels. Longer-term studies are needed to see if vitamin D supplementation is safe and effective way to help prevent development of type 2 diabetes for those at risk.
In the meantime, try to include more vitamin D in your diet by adding these foods:
- Cod liver oil
- Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna
- Orange juice and other products fortified with vitamin D
- Milk and dairy products