Vitamin D May Reduce Diabetes Risk

Vitamin D May Reduce Diabetes Risk

Type 2 diabetes is on the rise: Over 30 million Americans now have the disease with nearly one-third of them undiagnosed. Another 90 million have prediabetes. Since type 2 diabetes is a powerful factor in hypertension, heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and a host of other medical problems, managing it, or avoiding it altogether, has become a focus of interest.

Learn new ways of mitigating your diabetes risk, including increasing your daily amount of vitamin D. 

What can I do to decrease type 2 diabetes risk?

You can do a lot to minimize your risk of type 2 diabetes:

  • Eat modest amounts of low glycemic load carbs instead of processed, high glycemic carbs.
  • Maintain an appropriate weight by making good food choices and exercising.
  • Eat carbs with resistant starch daily.
  • Use portion control, HIIT, and resistance training to minimize visceral fat.

The list could be extended almost indefinitely. However, you’d be missing an important element if you did not consider taking supplemental vitamin D3 or, better yet, increasing your sun exposure so you make more of the “sunshine vitamin” yourself.

What else should I know about Vitamin D?

Actually, even calling it a vitamin leads to all sorts of incorrect conclusions: “vitamin” D is really a fat-soluble hormone. As a result, vitamin D can regulate transcription of more than 3,000 genes. Furthermore, vitamin D receptors exist in almost every organ!

Population studies have yielded some tantalizing results; not only do individuals newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes have lower vitamin D blood levels, but in the undiagnosed those with the lowest levels of the sunshine vitamin have a greater risk of subsequently developing type 2 diabetes. 

There are two primary causes for type 2 diabetes and vitamin D is related to each:

  1. Pancreatic beta-islet cells, which produce insulin, fail to make sufficient amounts of the hormone because, without vitamin D, optimum transcriptional activation of the insulin gene does not occur.
  2. Insulin resistance makes the hormone’s target cells unable to use it even when insulin is present in sufficient quantities. Vitamin D regulates transcription of the gene coding for the insulin receptor, so when D3 blood levels are low, less insulin receptor is produced and target cells become insensitive to circulating insulin.

In addition, calcium plays a role in insulin secretion and D3 regulates calcium, so choose calcium rich foods and vitamin K2 if you supplement D3 to correct low levels.

How much vitamin D do I need and what’s the best way to get it?

The RDA for vitamin D is generally set at 600 IU, but medical research suggests that for optimum health, perhaps ten times as much is needed. It is possible to get the RDA for vitamin D through diet alone if you are very regularly consuming salmon or fortified milk, but you will never reach the optimum intake, which may be closer to 8,000-10,000 IU! You will need to spend time outdoors, at least 30 minutes a few times per week, without sunscreen, to absorb enough UVB radiation to make the desirable level of vitamin D, or use a good tanning bed regularly.

For those who cannot get that amount of sun exposure, supplementing with D3 is the only option. If you are serious about avoiding type 2 diabetes — and everyone should be! — vitamin D3 may be as important as exercising and eating a portion-controlled low glycemic load diet.

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