(NaturalNews) Low levels of vitamin D increase your risk for developing diabetes and related medical conditions such as heart disease, research has shown.
Two studies into the link between vitamin D and diabetes were presented at the 2010 meeting of the Endocrine Society. In the first, researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine reviewed medical information on 124 adults between the ages of 36 and 89 who had been treated for type 2 diabetes at a special endocrine outpatient facility between 2003 and 2008. They found that more than 90 percent of the patients had low enough blood levels of vitamin D to be classified as either insufficient or deficient.
Such a widespread degree of vitamin insufficiency is particularly troubling among a population seeing medical specialists, since all patients needed to be seen by their primary care physicians to even obtain a referral to the special clinic.
The researchers noted that only 6 percent of the study participants were taking a vitamin D supplement when they visited the clinic. They also found that patients with the lowest levels of vitamin D also had the highest levels of blood sugar.
"This finding supports an active role of vitamin D in the development of type 2 diabetes," researcher Dr. Esther Krug said. "Since primary care providers diagnose and treat most patients with type 2 diabetes, screening and vitamin D supplementation as part of routine primary care may improve health outcomes of this highly prevalent condition."
Vitamin D and metabolic syndrome
The second study linked vitamin D not to diabetes directly, but to a cluster of diabetic and cardiovascular risk factors known as metabolic syndrome. Symptoms of metabolic syndrome include central obesity, high cholesterol and trigylcerides, high fasting blood sugar, high blood pressure, and low levels of HDL ("good" cholesterol).
The researchers found that among 1,300 white Dutch adults over the age of 65, nearly 50 percent had vitamin D deficiency and 37 percent had metabolic syndrome. Those with lower vitamin D blood levels were significantly more likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome.
"Because the metabolic syndrome increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, an adequate vitamin D level in the body might be important in the prevention of these diseases," researcher Marelise Eekhoff said.
A connection between vitamin D and metabolic syndrome was further supported by a study conducted by researchers from Shandong University Affiliated Jinan Central Hospital in China and published in Nutrition Journal in 2012. The researchers examined 601 non-diabetic adults of average age 50, about one-quarter of them women. They found that lower levels of vitamin D were associated with higher body mass index (a measure of obesity, and a diabetes risk factor), waist circumference, fasting blood sugar, trigylcerides and LDL ("bad") cholesterol. Low vitamin D levels were also associated with higher levels of fasting insulin, possibly indicating the beginnings of insulin insensitivity and pre-diabetes.
Indeed, in a review of more than 40 separate studies, published in Dermatoendocrinology in 2012, researchers concluded that long-term vitamin D replenishment might reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.