Vitamin D may halt diabetes in its tracks

Millions of U.S. adults have prediabetes and don’t know it because most are asymptomatic. In fact, prediabetes has become one of the most important health topics of preventative medicine in recent years. That’s because progression from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes isn’t inevitable. Lifestyle changes and one important vitamin may stop it in its tracks.

Lifestyle changes, of course, center around diet for anyone looking to better manage their blood sugar. Some supplements can also help keep insulin resistance at bay.

But what about a simple vitamin that you know best for strong bones?

Researchers have discovered Vitamin D3 supplementation produces powerful blood sugar benefits for patients at high risk of diabetes or with newly diagnosed diabetes…  

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Vitamin D3 may keep a diabetes diagnosis away

A new study, led by Patricia Lemieux and her colleagues, conducted a single-center, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving 96 patients who were pre-diabetic or with newly-diagnosed diabetes. These participants were assigned randomly to either six months of daily 5,000 IU vitamin D3 or placebo.

The researchers found that patients supplementing vitamin D3 for six months, versus placebo, experienced beneficial effects on peripheral insulin sensitivity (mean change, 0.92 versus -0.03) and disposition index (mean change, 267.0 versus -55.5).

The increase in peripheral insulin sensitivity is a big deal. When insulin sensitivity is higher, the body is able to use blood glucose — or blood sugar — more effectively.

While previous studies failed to demonstrate a positive effect between vitamin D supplementation and long-standing type 2 diabetes is unclear. But the researchers have a theory…

A co-author commented, “This could be due to the fact improvements in metabolic function are harder to detect in those with a longer-term disease or that a longer treatment time is needed to see the benefit.”

So, the key appears to be getting your vitamin D3 supplementation up before prediabetes has time to evolve to full-blown disease.

Not the first time vitamin D found to affect insulin sensitivity

A Canadian study has also validated a clear association between low vitamin D levels in patients with insulin resistance and a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

That study demonstrated that when supplementation is given prior to diagnosis or soon after, the body responds better on the cellular level to insulin. When this occurs the beta cells in the pancreas, which play a central role in insulin secretion can stay healthy and functional.

In another study, Catherine Peterson, a researcher and associate professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri, saw decreased insulin levels and better glucose control with vitamin D3 supplementation with obese patients.

Said Peterson, “By increasing vitamin D intake alone, we got a response that was nearly as powerful as what we have seen using a prescription drug. We saw a decrease in insulin levels, which means better glucose control, despite no changes in body weight, dietary intake or physical activity.”

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Getting your vitamin D

It’s important to get your vitamin D levels tested if you’re a higher risk of developing diabetes.

Some foods are rich in vitamin D — like salmon, tuna, eggs and fortified foods, like milk. But the easiest way to bump up levels is through supplementation. Talk to your doctor about that. He may consider higher levels to get your base up. It’s been shown safe to supplement 4,000 to 5,000 IUs daily.

Related: Health and Science Experts Plead: Increase vitamin D during the pandemic

Rethinking your diet to reduce the risk of diabetes doesn’t mean you have to give up all the foods you love. One of the first rules is eating less of them while cutting down on simple carbohydrates like sugar.

Here are some dietary tips to help with healthy blood sugar levels

  • Whole grains deliver serious diabetes protection. Consider foods like brown rice, whole-grain cereal, oatmeal or quinoa.
  • Eat healthy proteins, like eggs, lean cuts of meats, fish, dried beans and peas, tofu.
  • Load up on non-starchy vegetables and legumes to help you feel full.
  • Cut out sugary drinks and ultra-processed snacks.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation.

A combination of keeping your vitamin D levels at an optimal level and cutting down the amount of simple carbohydrates can help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.

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Vitamin D Supplementation Beneficial for Glucose Metabolism — Physician’s Weekly

Effects of 6-month vitamin D supplementation on insulin sensitivity and secretion: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial — European Journal of Endocrinology

The right diet for prediabetes — Healthline

Association of Vitamin D with insulin resistance and beta-cell dysfunction in subjects at risk for type 2 diabetes — National Library of Medicine (Pub

Tracey G. Ingram, AuD

By Tracey G. Ingram, AuD

Tracey G. Ingram is a former Occupational Therapist, and presently a writer and Doctor of Audiology with more than 20 years of experience. She enjoys living a healthy lifestyle and feels health is a complete state of physical, mental and social wellbeing. She practices intermittent fasting, Pilates, yoga, hiking and daily meditation. She loves to share her experiences with nutrition, supplements and eating organic foods to help others improve their health.