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A recent study has shown that vitamin D can positively contribute to reducing the risk of individuals developing certain medical conditions – not least of all, type 1 diabetes.
Not long ago, vitamin D was only known to strengthen bones, but thanks to continued research data has started to show that nearly every tissue and cell type in the body has receptors for vitamin D. As a result of this research, doctors ‘prescribed’ that people should take in higher doses of the vitamin in order for the body to function optimally. Unless your body is at its optimal levels, you are at increased risk of disorders such as heart disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and diabetes.
In fact, even if you have your blood tested today and your blood sugar is discovered to be at a normal level, a vitamin D deficiency makes you around 91% more likely to progress to insulin resistance or ‘pre-diabetes’ which more than doubles your risk for progressing to an active state of type 2 diabetes.
Vitamin D receptors develop in a wide range of brain tissue early on within foetal development, and humans continue to process vitamin D in their bodies throughout their life span. Most of us require additional amounts from our diet (foods like tuna, salmon, and cheese are rich in vitamin D), the sun or from other supplements to maintain adequate levels. Once vitamin D has been ingested into the diet or produced in the skin, the liver and kidneys then convert it to d3, its most active ‘hormone’ form and the form of the vitamin which most boosts the immune system and its functions.
People with diabetes (both types 1 and 2) have lower levels of vitamin D than the rest of the general population. The close connection between vitamin D and diabetes is down to the vitamin D receptors within the pancreas and its insulin-producing cells, the liver, fat and any muscle tissue – all of which dictate the levels of glucose that is carried within your blood.
Similar to humans, diabetic lab studies carried out on animals have found that the diabetes has also resulted in decreased levels of insulin and vitamin D receptors within the brain. Higher levels of inflammation, DNA damage, and increased levels of body fat lead scientists to believe that having lower levels of vitamin D within your body is ultimately detrimental to its function. Tests also showed that those with diabetes and therefore with reduced vitamin D levels performed poorly on memory and cognitive tests (Alzheimer’s is often referred to as the diabetes of the brain) but after supplementing the test subjects with a daily dose of the vitamin, their functions all increased to near-normal levels.
Having vitamin D supplemented into a diet can also benefit those with both types of diabetes. A study revealed that diabetics who were receiving 1,000IU per day of vitamin D within a yoghurt saw significantly reduced differences in fasting blood sugar, insulin resistance, waist circumference and BMI levels compared with levels of diabetic participants receiving no vitamin D.