benefits of vitamin d for diabetes
Written by Dr. César Giral

Recent research suggests that taking vitamin D for diabetes can be helpful for individuals with this condition. In general, it is known that a diet naturally rich in essential nutrients can help prevent many diseases and illnesses. Fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains are not only source of valuable vitamins, but also a key provider of nutrients such as antioxidants (substances that prevent inflammation and processes related to cell damage and aging), dietary fiber and minerals essential for biochemical processes to develop in the cells.

With the exception of vitamin D, most supplements are useful only in certain circumstances where they are required as an “extra”. For example during pregnancy and certain other conditions of deficiency generated by chronic diseases. Otherwise, with a balanced diet these supplements are not necessary.

Vitamin D is essential for the health and strength of bones since it helps calcium absorption. It is also necessary for muscular, neurological and immune function. In adults, it helps protect against osteoporosis and osteomalacia, thus avoiding the possibility of fractures and musculoskeletal pain.

Good news is that our body is capable of producing vitamin D when we expose our skin to the sun. The primary source is cholesterol, which once synthesized it is activated in the kidneys. 15 minutes under the sun is enough to get the daily amount we need. However, there is a special condition in older or dark-skinned individuals, since their skin is not as efficient in producing vitamin D, therefore requiring a greater exposure or consumption of nutritional supplements.

People who are overweight or obese are also likely to suffer from the deficiency, because vitamin D consumption is “trapped” in fat tissue and does not fulfill its biological role.

We can know our vitamin D levels with simple laboratory tests. The manner in which the blood levels is measured is by quantifying the levels of a form of vitamin D known as 25-hydroxy vitamin D. Levels below 30 nmol/L are considered deficient for health in general, therefore needing additional supplementation.

There has been much scientific interest in the study of vitamin D. Mainly, because its absence has been linked to health problems such as diabetes, hypertension, and autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, bone diseases and some types of cancer (colon, prostate and breast).

Vitamin D and Diabetes

There are scientific studies that show an interesting relationship between vitamin D and diabetes. Among the findings there are:

  1. Studies suggest that children who regularly receive Vitamin D supplements have a lower risk of developing diabetes type I.
  2. People with type II diabetes and low levels of vitamin D have a higher risk of death due to heart disease.
  3. People without diabetes with low levels of vitamin D have an increased risk of developing type II diabetes, as they get older.
  4. There is evidence that in people with type II diabetes, vitamin D may decrease insulin resistance, increase insulin sensitivity of tissues and thus helping to control blood sugar levels.

Still, more studies need to be done to be able to really categorize the relation between vitamin D and its benefits towards diabetes.

Note: This article is for educational and informational purposes only. Talk to your doctor regarding issues regarding nutritional supplements and the most appropriate way of taking them. Always seek medical advice for any question about a change in your condition or treatment.


About the author

Dr. César Giral


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