Many experts believe that vitamin D is possibly the single most important vitamin for women with Type 2 diabetes, and especially for women who have gestational diabetes.
Vitamin D helps the parathyroid glands regulate the flow of calcium, and it is the flow of calcium into the insulin producing beta cells of the pancreas that triggers the release of insulin. Calcium goes in, insulin goes out, and blood sugar levels are then brought back down to normal. But how, other than by taking a blood test, can women with Type 2 diabetes recognize vitamin D deficiency?
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Here are some common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency:
- you find it easier to control your blood sugar levels during the summer, or when you spend a lot of time outdoors, whether you are exercising or not
- you always get colds and flu during cold, rainy weather, never during cold, sunny weather
- you just can’t lose weight, or so it seems, on a healthy plant foods diet
That last indicator of deficiency is due to the importance of this nutrient in regulating the maturation of fat cells. When you don’t have enough vitamin D in your circulation, ‘baby’ fat cells quickly mature into fully functioning fat cells, just waiting to fill themselves up. And if you take either of the two diabetes drugs that also transform baby fat cells into fully functioning fat cells, Actos or Avandia (also known as pioglitazone and rosiglitazone), you will have fat waiting for your first dietary indiscretion to greedily grow around your belly.
The very best way to know whether you have a vitamin D deficiency, of course, is to have a blood test. ‘Normal’ vitamin D levels are given to interpretation, but all the authorities agree that 40 to 100 ng/ml is adequate.
If you have high vitamin D levels, you don’t want to take supplemental vitamin D. You don’t want too much calcium flowing into your bloodstream; this can have some really nasty effects on blood pressure and heart rhythm. But if you have inadequate vitamin D, you can benefit from taking up to 5,000 IU a day of vitamin D supplements, or by getting about 30 minutes of sun exposure every day. At least you hands and face should be exposed, and you can’t absorb the sunshine your skin needs to make the vitamin if you are wearing sun block. Just 30 minutes in the sun, however, helps your body make up to 10,000 IU of vitamin D.
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Beverleigh Piepers RN… the Diabetes Detective.
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