High doses of vitamin D for prediabetic people can increase glucose metabolism, which in turn slows down the disease’s development.
The action of insulin in muscle tissue improved when vitamin D3 was given to newly diagnosed diabetes patients, the study found.
Researchers used a dosage of 5,000 IU per day over a 6-month period, which is about 5 to 10 times more than the recommended daily vitamin D intake.
There are different types of Vitamin D: the two major forms are vitamin D2 or ergocalciferol, and vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol.
According to a new CDC report, more than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes.
Prediabetes is linked to higher blood glucose levels than normal.
Prediabetes is a fast growing problem that, if not treated, can lead to type 2 diabetes in 5 years.
Type 2 diabetes can cause serious diseases including kidney failure, nerve damage, cardiovascular diseases and blindness.
People at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes can have low levels of vitamin D.
The effect of vitamin D in prediabetes or new diabetes patients was recently studied by Dr Claudia Gagnon and colleagues from Université Laval in Quebec.
They measured glucose metabolism and markers of insulin function before and after six months supplementation with vitamin D and found that insulin sensitivity was significantly improved.
High insulin sensitivity makes our cells use blood glucose more efficiently and so blood sugar will decrease in the body.
People who are not sensitive to insulin suffer from a condition called insulin resistance (IR), a factor that leads to type 2 diabetes.
Dr Gagnon says:
“The reason we saw improvements in glucose metabolism following vitamin D supplementation in those at high risk of diabetes, or with newly diagnosed diabetes, while other studies failed to demonstrate an effect in people with long-standing type 2 diabetes is unclear.
This could be due to the fact that improvements in metabolic function are harder to detect in those with longer-term disease or that a longer treatment time is needed to see the benefits.”
“Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes are a growing public health concern and although our results are promising, further studies are required to confirm our findings, to identify whether some people may benefit more from this intervention, and to evaluate the safety of high-dose vitamin D supplementation in the long term.
Until then I would suggest that current vitamin D supplementation recommendations be followed.”
About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.
The study was published in the European Journal of Endocrinology (Lemieux et al., 2019).