Vitamin D and Diabetes

November 13/New Delhi/The Times of India -- Could lack of enough exposure to sunlight turning you a diabetic? In a first-of-its-kind study in India, doctors have found a clear link between Vitamin D deficiency and a spurt in blood sugar levels.

A team of doctors from Fortis Hospital in the Capital, headed by Dr Anoop Misra, conducted a study on 184 patients, who visited its OPDs. Among them, 92 were suffering from Type 2 diabetics, while the rest were found to be healthy.

The health parameters of both these groups -- matched for age, gender and body weight -- were compared.

Severe vitamin D deficiency was significantly more prevalent among diabetic patients (nearly 58%) than non-diabetic ones (33%). Interestingly, men with diabetes had more vitamin D deficiency than women. The mean age of subjects in the study was 52 years and mean body mass index of 28kg/m2 (read: obese), and patients were found to be mostly living in the Capital and NCR.

Misra said, "Diabetes is increasing in India and is traditionally ascribed to bad diets, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, genetic predisposition and stress. But now, we are getting strong data to suggest that Vitamin D deficiency could be an important cause of increased blood sugar among Indians." Vitamin D deficiency has all along been associated with bone deficiency, or osteoporosis.

"This important study paves way for further research. We'll now look at whether supplementation with vitamin D leads to improvement in blood sugar control among diabetic patients," he added.

Vitamin D is synthesized in skin with the help of sunlight. Around 30 minutes of exposure to sun (maximum portions of arms, neck and head) is recommended. Also, recommended daily intake of vitamin D -- 400-800 IU/day. However, some experts prescribe even higher dosages.

Dairy products, fortified cereals and oils, beans and legumes, nuts and fatty fish are considered to be rich sources of vitamin D. "Vitamin D deficiency leads to resistance to the action of insulin and increases blood sugar values, causing diabetes. It is widespread among Indians, particularly in urban areas," Misra explained.

Vitamin D and calcium are important for intra-cellular regulation of insulin secretion from pancreatic beta cells.

When Vitamin D levels are low, insulin secretion from beta cells fall, raising blood sugar levels.

An earlier study conducted in the Capital showed that supplementation of vitamin D lead to better secretion of insulin, helping glucose regulation.

From the November 15, 2010, Prepared Foods' Daily News
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