Vitamin D deficiency is an issue in people with and without diabetes. Research has repeatedly found a clear association between low vitamin D levels in patients with insulin resistance and a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as shown in this study from Canada.
A new study suggests that vitamin D supplementation prior to diagnosis, or soon after, can help the body retain the ability to respond better on a cellular level to insulin, which counters the hallmark of type 2 diabetes — insulin resistance. Scientists also found that vitamin D supplementation allows the beta cells in the pancreas that make insulin stay healthy and functional.
Beta cells play a central role in insulin secretion. Gradual beta cell dysfunction is the biggest culprit of type 2 diabetes for approximately 60 percent of people diagnosed, according to a study published in Diabetes Care.
This would suggest that the remaining 40 percent could potentially reverse the condition through significant lifestyle changes including nutrition, exercise, and maintaining a healthy body weight.
Typically, as type 2 diabetes progresses, patients will need to begin using insulin due to gradually significant beta cell loss. This means that the oral medications for diabetes that encourage the body to produce more insulin are no longer helpful, making injections the only option.
It is also believed that vitamin D improves insulin sensitivity by activating other receptors that help regulate the metabolism of fatty acids within muscle and body fat.
While the results of the study are promising, researchers warn that patients with diabetes should always check with their doctor prior to supplementing with vitamin D. Get your levels tested and from there make a plan with your doctor.