Vitamin D, Diabetes, and Other Blood Sugar Disorders

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New research discoveries into vitamin D and its role in human health could be of special interest to a large number of those North Americans who have the disease called diabetes, a serious and incurable condition that is characterized by the presence of higher than normal blood sugar levels throughout the body.

Discoveries recently announced by scientists at the University of Copenhagen report that Vitamin D plays a critical role in activating the body’s immune system defenses and unless enough vitamin D is available to the T cells, also called killer cells in describing their capacity to kill invading infections, the T cells are not able to fight off the serious infections as they are programmed to do.

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Diabetes and Vitamin D
It has been conjectured that diabetes may create an increased requirement for vitamin D and that a deficiency in the vitamin may lead to a decrease in insulin production, typical of type-1 and type-2 diabetes. Insulin is an essential hormone needed to assist the acceptance of blood sugars by the cells of the body.

If that is really the case, then the conclusion must be that those suffering from diabetes could be helped by obtaining higher intakes of vitamin D than they currently do. There are several other diseases caused or worsened by a lack of Vitamin D, is it possible that diabetes should be added to that list?

It is well known that deficiencies in vitamin D cause the bone disease called rickets in young children. Rickets was first identified as a vitamin D deficiency in the 1920s and scientists soon found a way to synthesize the vitamin and then add it to everyday food items such as breakfast cereals and milk. Those fortified food products and many others are still the most relied upon sources of vitamin D for growing children, adults, and the elderly. But it is not known how much Vitamin D is really needed for total good health. There is no official Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) as there is for many other nutrients. There is only a suggested amount, referred to as “Adequate Intake” that is used because there isn’t enough data to confirm what is actually the correct amount and thereby set a fixed and final value.

Recent research shows higher intake of Vitamin D is effective
It would appear from recent research, including that of the University of Copenhagen that there are several reasons pointing to a need to raise the daily vitamin D requirement substantially from the current daily Adequate Intake amount of 200 International Units (IU) for everyone aged from newborn to 50 years of age, 400 IU for those 50 years old up to 70, and 600 IU for those of 70 years and older.

In the March 2010 issue of Endocrine News, a professional publication for practicing clinicians, researchers, and scientists in the field, a featured article on vitamin D expressed some frustration with government authorities who stick to the current Adequate Intake amounts. According to professor Bruce W. Hollis of the Medical University of South Carolina, “The lack of vitamin D is responsible for an incredible array of diseases.” He further states that insufficient levels of the vitamin are linked to several types of cancers, cardiovascular disorders, multiple sclerosis, autoimmunity and other chronic diseases including diabetes. Dr. Hollis takes 4000 IU daily.

Other scientists have suggested that 5000 IU is an appropriate daily intake for those at high risk of vitamin D deficiency to prevent bone diseases in all ages.

Perhaps it is time to discuss this issue with your doctor
For the diabetic population, those who are already diabetic and those who have prediabetes, also a condition of higher than normal blood sugar levels that often develops to full diabetes, I would suggest that in light of the foregoing described research and scientific opinion it would be worthwhile to discuss the matter fully with your doctor.

I do have higher than normal blood sugar levels and for me, and others like me, the constant battle to control the condition does spoil the quality of life. I will be discussing this with my doctor who I hope is up to date and informed on the matter.

But The American Diabetes Association does not advocate higher intake levels
The American Diabetes Association is takes a cautious view, not advocating any increase in vitamin D intake above the current recommended levels.

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In a Research Summary, the American Diabetes Association, states that more studies are needed to determine whether more calcium and vitamin D is able to prevent diabetes and its complications. Their position statement 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.”

Author’s Comment:

I am long-time diabetic writing on the subject of diabetes. For more information on other diabetes topics please visit my websites: Normal Blood Sugar Levels [] and also Diabetic Menu Guide []. Worth a visit, check it out!

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