Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Vitamin D, Its Influence on Diabetes and High Blood Sugar Levels

Vitamin D, Its Influence on Diabetes and High Blood Sugar Levels

We read more frequently these days about the benefits of Vitamin D and the need to increase our intake of this nutrient, long known as the sunshine vitamin. Recent research discoveries show that Vitamin D has a more far-reaching effect in our health than was earlier believed, where it is known for its role in regulating the absorption and the use of calcium to help in building bones and teeth. A vitamin D deficiency is the main cause of the bone disease called rickets in infants and children and causes similar effect in adults.

For vitamin D, the current recommendation described as an adequate intake by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) of the Institute of Medicine, ranges from 200 to 600 IU depending on age. From birth to 50 years it is 200 International Units (IU), it increases to 400 IU when over 50 years and to 600 IU for people 70 years and older.

Many doctors consider those amounts too low and recent research seems to confirm that opinion. The March 2010 issue of Endocrine News featured a cover article on vitamin D in which it quotes Bruce W. Hollis, Ph.D., professor at the Medical University of South Carolina as saying that the lack of vitamin D is responsible for an incredible array of diseases, and that the recommended RDA allowances do not match what is really needed. Dr. Hollis says that he personally takes 4000 IU daily.

There is an independent group of experts, the Vitamin D Council, that discusses and publicizes the need for higher levels of the vitamin, which they describe as being in a class by itself targeting over 2000 genes that can affect health conditions in humans. Insufficient levels of the vitamin have been linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, many cancers, depression, multiple sclerosis, and other chronic diseases, bone anomalies.

For those with diabetes and higher than normal blood sugar levels the recent findings are of great interest, and should perhaps prompt them to have vitamin D levels checked, which could be done at the same time as checking blood sugar levels with the HbA1C test that is carried out every 3 or 4 months or so.

It has been speculated that diabetes may create an extra demand on the body’s supplies of vitamin D. Research in the UK in a review of 28 existing studies involving 100,000 people and vitamin D levels, reported that the study suggested a link between lower risk of type-2 diabetes and heart disease when higher levels of vitamin D are present, but these results cannot confirm or otherwise that the increased vitamin D is responsible for the reduced risk of type-2 and heart disease.

In research at the University of Copenhagen reported last month, March 2010, it was summarized that vitamin D is crucial in the activation of immune system defenses and without sufficient amounts of vitamin D, the immune system’s cells will not be able to fight serious infections that occur in the body.

Perhaps everyone, but especially those who have the problem of higher than normal blood sugar levels, should become more familiar with vitamin D and whether it may possibly help in managing diabetes.

Diabetes associations do not advocate increased vitamin D intake

The American Diabetes Association and the Canadian Diabetes Association take a more cautious stance and are not advocating increasing intake levels of vitamin D above the current recommended levels.

The American Diabetes Association, states that more studies are needed to determine whether increased intakes of vitamin D, and calcium, are effective in preventing diabetes and related complications. In their position statement, not mentioning vitamin D specifically, it says “There is no clear evidence of benefit from vitamin or mineral supplementation in people with diabetes (compared with the general population) who do not have underlying deficiencies.”

1 comment:

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