Can Vitamin D – specifically D3 (cholecalciferol) prevent or delay type 2 diabetes in adults aged 30 or older with prediabetes? The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is setting out to find out. In NIH’s multi-year D2d study they will include about 2,500 people with prediabetes who have blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes.
The NIH announced last week that they are donating millions of dollars to fund research that will investigate whether vitamin D supplements can effectively prevent Type 2 diabetes. The Vitamin D and Type 2 Diabetes study – also known as D2d – will involve more than 20 health centers across the United States.
“This study aims to definitively answer the question: Can vitamin D reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes?” said Myrlene Staten, M.D., D2d project officer at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of NIH. “Vitamin D use has risen sharply in the U.S. in the last 15 years, since it has been suggested as a remedy for a variety of conditions, including prevention of type 2 diabetes. But we need rigorous testing to determine if vitamin D will help prevent diabetes. That’s what D2d will do.”
There is definitely a relationship between vitamin D and diabetes. Numerous scientific studies have found that patients with Type D diabetes are often deficient in vitamin D. One such remarkable study looked at the level of vitamin D, prevalence of insulin resistance and risk for Type 2 diabetes in the U.S. population. Researchers concluded that people with a low level of vitamin D were at high risk for the development of insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes.
There is also research suggesting that young people who have higher vitamin D levels decreased their chances of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life compared to people who had lower vitamin D levels. Studies have also shown that vitamin D supplements can help some symptoms of Type 2 diabetes.
The NIH D2d is the first study to directly examine if a daily dose of 4,000 International Units (IUs) of vitamin D — greater than a typical adult intake of 600-800 IUs a day, but within limits deemed appropriate for clinical research by the Institute of Medicine — helps keep people with prediabetes from getting type 2 diabetes. Based on observations from earlier studies, researchers speculate that vitamin D could reduce the diabetes risk by 25 percent. The study will also examine if sex, age or race affect the potential of vitamin D to reduce diabetes risk.
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