(Natural News) Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is important for the health of various organs and plays a role in many biological processes. This essential nutrient can be obtained either through sun exposure or by eating excellent food sources, such as fatty fish, cheese, and egg yolks. Today, vitamin D supplementation is used to prevent various diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, Hashimoto’s disease, and hypertension. Vitamin D is also used to help eliminate depression symptoms.
To add to the list of this vitamin’s health benefits, researchers from Iran recently reported that vitamin D can improve glycemic control. Through their meta-analysis of previous studies, they found that vitamin D supplementation can effectively reduce fasting blood glucose levels, insulin levels, and insulin resistance, among others.
Vitamin D can be used to prevent diabetes and reduce the risk of heart disease
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death around the world. This chronic condition is closely linked to other serious diseases, such as obesity and diabetes. In fact, some of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, namely, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, and chronic inflammation, are associated with both conditions.
Vitamin D deficiency is common in patients who suffer from weight problems, high blood pressure, and even mental disorders like depression. Results of clinical trials suggest that vitamin D supplementation can alleviate some of their symptoms, so the researchers hypothesized that the same approach can be used to reduce the risk of heart disease.
For their meta-analysis, the researchers included eight different trials involving 305 patients in the intervention group and 325 patients in the placebo group. After pooling relevant data from the studies, they found that vitamin D administration brought significant reduction in the fasting glucose, insulin concentrations, and insulin resistance of the participants. It also increased their insulin sensitivity and blood concentrations of good cholesterol (HDL).
Additionally, vitamin D supplementation dramatically reduced the C-reactive protein (CRP) levels of the patients. CRP is a product of the liver that’s used as a blood test marker for inflammation. Chronic inflammation is one of the leading contributors to the development of Type 2 diabetes and its complications. Hence, the positive effects of vitamin D on blood glucose levels, insulin resistance, and inflammation suggest that the vitamin can be used for the treatment of diabetes.
Based on these results, the researchers concluded that vitamin D supplementation can be used to improve glycemic control, increase HDL levels, and decrease CRP levels in patients with heart disease. Although it did not affect triglyceride or bad cholesterol (LDL) levels, vitamin D can still be used for the management of diabetes and CVD.
Other health benefits associated with vitamin D
Despite its popularity as a vitamin, vitamin D is not really a vitamin but a hormone. Once produced in the skin or obtained from food, vitamin D is converted into its more active form by the liver and kidneys. The active hormone form of vitamin D called calcitriol then helps the gut absorb more calcium from food and prevents the loss of calcium from the kidneys.
The roles played by vitamin D inside the body are crucial and varied. Vitamin D is needed for:
- The development of strong bones in children and adults
- Supporting the immune system and the nervous system
- The regulation of insulin levels
- The maintenance of lung function and heart health
- Influencing the expression of certain genes
- Regulating cell growth and cell communication
When it comes to health, vitamin D offers the following benefits:
- Enhances immunity against the flu
- Ensures a healthy pregnancy
- Helps prevent asthma
- Improves the mood
- Reduces the risk of diabetes
- Slows down cancer progression
- Strengthens and maintains healthy bones
Vitamin D can be easily obtained from common food sources. You can also help your body produce it by soaking up some sun before 10 in the morning. As a last resort, vitamin D can be taken in capsule form. Prevent vitamin D deficiency and lower your risk of diabetes and heart disease by ensuring you get sufficient amounts of vitamin D every day.