Could there be an Anti-Diabetes Vitamin?

Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they usually have prediabetes or impaired fasting blood glucose.  Prediabetes means that your blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes (over 100 mg/dL, but less than 126 mg/dL).  Without intervention, prediabetics are likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 10 years or less.  With intervention in the form of lifestyle changes (eating a balanced diet, proper physical activity, reaching/maintaining a healthy weight, etc.), prediabetics may be able to bring blood sugar levels back to a normal range and prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. 

Now, a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found a new potential type 2 diabetes-preventer for prediabetics; vitamin D3 supplementation.   In the study, a daily 2,000 IU (International Units) dose of vitamin D3 was associated with a 25% improvement in the functioning of beta cells in the pancreas.  According to the researchers, low levels of beta cell function in the pancreas predict the risk of diabetes.  The researchers feel that the results of their study suggest “that vitamin D may have a role in delaying the progression to clinical diabetes in adults at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes”.  

To better assess the potential role of vitamin D in relation to diabetes, more observational and randomized clinical trials need to be completed.  But, since low blood levels of vitamin D are associated with many other health issues like osteoporosis, cognitive impairement in older adults, increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and even cancer, it is worth asking your physician to measure your 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels.  If they are low, follow your physician’s advice for vitamin D supplementation.  If you have prediabetes, this may be another step that you can take to minimize the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Here is a link to an abstract of the study.

On a side note, many people are unaware that they have prediabetes.  Here are some risk factors for prediabetes and diabetes.  Talk to your physician about your risk factors and any concerns that you may have about them.

Risk Factors:

Being overweight or obese

Having a parent or sibling with diabetes

Having had gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds at birth

Having high blood pressure

Being sedentary

Being African-American, Asian-American, American Indian, a Pacific Islander or of Hispanic/Latino heritages

Karen McPartland, RD, CSSD

Princeton Longevity Center