Type 1 diabetes develops due to malfunctioning of the immune system. Mounting scientific evidence indicates that vitamin D plays a vital role in the normal functioning of the immune system and vitamin D deficiency can lead to the malfunctioning of the immune system. Consequently, your own immune system starts to attack and kill your own insulin producing cells in the pancreas, reacting as if they are invading viruses that must be destroyed. Once you are unable to produce insulin, you develop Type 1 diabetes.
Researchers have investigated the level of vitamin D in patients with Type 1 diabetes and found it to be low in the vast majority of these patients. Scientific evidence now exists to show that proper vitamin D supplementation can prevent Type 1 diabetes. Vitamin D is not a drug. There is no glory or huge profits in simply telling people to take enough vitamin D. In one such study called EURODIAB, researchers found vitamin D supplementation during infancy can significantly reduce the risk for developing Type 1 diabetes.
Life-style factors that are well known to cause Type 2 diabetes include obesity, old age and physical inactivity. It’s interesting to note that all of these factors also cause vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is important for normal glucose metabolism. In recent years, researchers have linked low vitamin D levels to insulin resistance and diabetes. Overcoming insulin resistance, in particular, could be a way to head off type 2 diabetes before it sets in. Over driving the beta cells by the use of sulphonylureas in the treatment of diabetes should a get a recall.
A large proportion of the population has low vitamin D levels, which are generally defined as a serum level of 25(OH)-vitamin D less than 20 or 30 ng/mL. Although sunlight stimulates skin production of vitamin D, many in modern society are dependent on ingestion of vitamin D in milk or supplements to maintain normal vitamin D levels, especially during the winter months, more true in European countries. For people working office jobs—or used to slathering on SPF 30 sunscreen to block the sun’s rays—sunlight isn’t always enough. It acts through several mechanisms on glucose metabolism:
1. Vitamin D directly acts on insulin producing cells in the pancreas to produce more insulin.
2. Vitamin D directly acts on the muscle and fat cells to improve insulin action by reducing insulin resistance.
3. Vitamin D indirectly improves insulin production and it’s action by improving the level of calcium inside the cells.
The researchers have found that people who had higher level of vitamin D were less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. Thus vitamin D appears to have a protective effect against the development of Type 2 diabetes. Intuitively, to tell vitamin D deficiency can lead to diabetes is at the time, far fetched though there are numerous scientific studies which indicate the same.
For people with diabetes, the latest research suggests macrophage, a type of cell activity can have an added drawback. Macrophages at work produce chemicals called cytokines, some of which serve as signals to other parts of the body. They can impair insulin action in the liver and muscle. Higher cytokines means more insulin resistance, a key factor in Type 2 diabetes.
Scientists are trying to look at whether vitamin D deficiency might be making macrophages more active—contributing to insulin resistance and inflammation in the process. When you have less vitamin D, the macrophages are in a more active state. When you give people vitamin D, these inflammatory reactions were found to be reduced. Initial results are found to be pretty remarkable since it is found that macrophages were less active when vitamin D levels went up.
The data from the present studies indicate that for people with insulin resistance, vitamin D can make a big difference. In another study from the U.S., researchers found that vitamin D and calcium supplementation were able to reduce progression from pre-diabetes to diabetes. This protective effect of vitamin D was similar in magnitude to other measures which have been shown to reduce the progression from pre-diabetes to diabetes, such as a weight reducing diet, intense exercise and use of the drug, metformin.
Evidence from interventional trials suggests that combined vitamin D and calcium supplementation may help prevent type 2 DM in only some populations at high risk for diabetes.
In summary, vitamin D has the potential to prevent Type 1 as well as Type 2 diabetes. It can also prevent the devastating complications of diabetes such as heart attacks and kidney failure. Unfortunately, most diabetics continue to be low in vitamin D;
So next time when your doctor says “ Your blood sugars are high…” , just ignore him;
Go for a walk in Sun……
I sometimes wish life could have been slightly simpler…….