Vitamin D: The Anti-Diabetes Vitamin?
Could vitamin D be the anti-diabetes vitamin, improving insulin resistance and sensitivity? According to a recent university study, it may be true.
If you’re concerned about diabetes, you’re certainly not alone. According to the National Institute of Health, more than 20 million Americans are currently affected by the condition, and more than 40 millions Americans have pre-diabetes, also known as early type 2 diabetes. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes involve either or both insufficient insulin production and resistance to the insulin produced; type 1 diabetes is an unpreventable congenital condition, whereas type 2 diabetes is usually developed as the result of a physically inactive lifestyle and/or being overweight. Diabetes causes many physical complications, and can lead to kidney, eye, and nervous system diseases, and is known to increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
What gives vitamin D the potential to be the anti-diabetes vitamin? According to a recent study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, taking vitamin D supplements may help improve improve insulin resistance and sensitivity. The study was conducted by researchers at Auckland, Australia’s Massey University, and found that increasing vitamin D levels in the blood of 42 insulin-resistant women dramatically improved their insulin sensitivity.
The controlled, double-blind study lasted six months, and involved 81 women, ranging in age from 23 – 68. 42 of the women were given 4000 IU of vitamin D daily, while 39 were given a placebo. While the vitamin D supplements didn’t result in increased insulin production, they did have the effect of making the women drastically more sensitive to the insulin they were already producing. The researchers concluded that taking a 4000 IU dose of vitamin D daily over the course of six months can help us use the insulin we produce more effectively, significantly reducing our risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
This research seems to indicate vitamin D does, in fact, have serious potential as an anti-diabetes vitamin. However, taking vitamin D is just one piece of the diabetes prevention and control puzzle. Maintaining a healthy weight, eating nutritious foods, and living an active lifestyle which includes plenty of exercise are of tantamount importance when it comes to preventing and controlling the disease.
Vitamin D can’t get you off the couch, but research has shown that when you do exercise, it may help your muscles perform better. A study conducted at England’s University of Manchester showed that adolescent girls with sufficient vitamin D levels outperformed those with vitamin D deficiencies on a wide range of tests designed to measure muscle power and force. Their findings suggest that vitamin d may help your muscles function at their best, and good muscle function can make exercise even more beneficial for your body.
If you have or are at risk for developing diabetes, vitamin D may be an important part of the picture on several levels. Discuss vitamin D and any other supplements you’re taking with your doctor, and follow his or her recommendations on controlling or preventing diabetes.