There is a lot of talk about vitamin D in the diabetes world – could it really help prevent type 2 diabetes? Does a vitamin D deficiency lead to complications? Researchers at Scientific Sessions are asking the same questions and have presented their findings over the last few days.
First of all, could vitamin D help prevent type 2 diabetes? One study looked at the data compiled from the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) and found that the more vitamin D a person has in their system, the lower their risk for developing type 2 diabetes, even after researchers adjusted for differences in lifestyle interventions and other risk factors for type 2 diabetes. The researchers recommend conducting more research into whether vitamin D supplements reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes.
Another study found that higher levels of vitamin D predicted better beta cell function (the cells that produce insulin) and better glucose control during a glucose tolerance test. This supports the idea that vitamin D may play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes – but again, research needs to be conducted to see if vitamin D supplements are similarly effective.
And what about a link between vitamin D deficiency and diabetes-related complications? One study looked at youth with type 1 diabetes and the connection between vitamin D deficiency and microvascular complications, including eye problems. They found that those who were deficient in vitamin D were twice as likely to have eye problems – although they’re still not quite sure why.