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Vitamin D Deficiency May Contribute to Diabetes

Having low levels of vitamin D increases the risk of developing type 11, or adult on-set, diabetes according to a new study.

Researchers evaluated men and women aged 40-74. The participants completed health examination surveys over a period of 22 years, during which time 412 developed diabetes. Vitamin D status in those with diabetes was compared to vitamin D status in 986 equivalent healthy people. The men had a higher average vitamin D status than the women; men with the highest vitamin D status were 72% less likely to develop diabetes than those with the lowest vitamin D status. This effect was independent of smoking, body mass index, physical activity, and education, all factors which influence the risk of developing diabetes.

Vitamin D and diabetes

Type 11 diabetes is becoming increasingly prevalent; the condition is associated with being overweight and an excess consumption of carbohydrates such as white rice, crisps and breakfast cereals that result in a rapid influx of sugar into blood and a corresponding production of large amounts of insulin to control the blood sugar. Diabetes develops when cells become resistant to the action of insulin and a state of continuous hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) results.

Vitamin D is known as the "sunshine vitamin" as it is synthesised in the skin upon exposure to ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation from sunlight; it is a fat soluble vitamin most famous for its role in preventing rickets in children. It is vital in its role as the main regulator of calcium absorption, without vitamin D calcium is not utilised efficiently and bone formation fails. Recent evidence however suggests that the role of vitamin D is far more complex and vital than maintaining calcium levels. More than 50 genes in tissues throughout the body are known to be regulated by 1,25(OH)2D, the active form of vitamin D. Just 15 minutes of sun exposure (without sun protection cream) 3 times a week will provide your body the vitamin D it needs; vitamin D is also found in oily fish such as sardines and in egg yolks. The elderly and those with insufficient sun exposure are advised to supplement with 5μg daily.

The evidence continues to grow on the extraordinary benefits of the "sunshine vitamin"- the perfect excuse to book that two weeks in the sun.


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