People at high risk of developing diabetes may benefit from consuming Vitamin D. According to WebMD, Tufts Medical Center physician Anastassios Pittas says in a recent study, "For every 5 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) increase in vitamin D levels, the risk of developing diabetes dropped by 8%." Although the results of this study are encouraging, Dr. Pittas acknowledges that other studies are needed to determine if vitamin D supplementation can indeed ward off diabetes. In addition to the diabetes study, other studies have shown that high levels of vitamin D in the blood stream can stave off certain cancers, boost immune function and improve mood.
The American Diabetes Association reports that an Australian study found that individuals whose blood revealed lower than the recommended vitamin D amounts had a dramatic 57% increase in the development of diabetes mellitus, or type 2 diabetes. Although the study is provocative, the American Diabetes Association is not recommending that persons at high risk for developing diabetes, nor diabetics themselves, start consuming vitamin D supplements without first consulting their physicians.
ClinicalTrials.gov, a website sponsored by the U.S National Institutes of Health is undergoing clinical trials to determine if vitamin D supplementation can prevent type 2 diabetes in individuals who are at risk for developing the condition. According to their website, ClinicalTrials.gov reports that "There are indications that Vitamin D is of importance in glucose metabolism, and that supplementation with vitamin D may increase both insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity." Persons involved in the clinical trial will receive an annual glucose tolerance test, and the endpoint of the study will be if subjects develop type 2 diabetes. The study began in March of 2008, and the estimated completion date of the study is March 2016.
Although the benefits of vitamin D supplementation have been touted for years, taking too much can cause vitamin D toxicity. Although rare, too much vitamin D can cause kidney failure and may even worsen heart disease. In addition, those suffering from autoimmune conditions such as lupus might experience an exacerbation in their symptoms when too much vitamin D is introduced to the system. As previously reported, people should not begin taking vitamin D supplements until they have reviewed the risks and benefits with their health care providers, as vitamin D can interact negatively with certain medications or health conditions. Too much circulating vitamin D can cause an excess production of calcium, which can contribute to substantial damage to soft tissues, kidneys and bones.
Gina Pisano is a registered nurse with over 20 years experience in various clinical settings, such as emergency room nursing, labor & delivery, surgical services, intensive care, geriatrics, pediatrics and general medicine.
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