Diabetes is a common cause of death and disability in the United States. According to the 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 29.1 million adults in the U.S. (9.3% of the population) are diabetic. Up to 86 million adults (one third of the population) have pre-diabetes, the condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal.
Everybody knows that being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for diabetes. However, a study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism points out that people with low levels of Vitamin D are more likely to develop diabetes, regardless of how much they weigh. Conducted by researchers at the Universidad de Málaga in Spain, the study suggests that vitamin D deficiency and obesity act together to increase the risk of diabetes and other metabolic disorders.
The researchers analyzed vitamin D biomarkers in about 118 participants at the University Hospital Virgen de la Victoria in Malaga and 30 participants at the Hospital Universitari Dr. Josep Trueta in Girona, Spain. Their blood sugar level was also evaluated. They were classified on the basis of their body mass index (BMI) and whether they had diabetes, prediabetes or no glycemic disorders. After comparison and analysis, the researchers found that
- Obese people who did not have diabetes or any glucose metabolism disorder had higher levels of Vitamin D than those with diabetes
- People who were thin and who had diabetes or a glucose metabolism disorder were more likely to have low levels of vitamin D.
These findings led the researchers to conclude that Vitamin D levels are directly linked to glucose levels, but not to BMI (Body Mass Index).
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and both these nutrients are very important for bone and muscle strength. Regular exposure to sunlight allows the skin to naturally produce this vitamin. In addition, we get vitamin D from the food we eat. The message of this study is quite clear – get enough sunshine through outdoor activity and add calcium-rich foods to your diet. People who do not get enough sunshine through outdoor activity should consult with their physician about possibly taking a Vitamin D supplement.