Vitamin D supplements taken in early life prevent type 1 diabetes

October 26, 2009

A new study published in the Nov 3, 2009 issue of the journal Lancet suggests that vitamin D deficiency raises risk of type 1 diabetes, and supplementation of this sunshine vitamin may reduce the risk.

Vitamin D deficiency has already been linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. A recent new trial showed that taking 4000 IU of vitamin D daily improved insulin sensitivity and insulin resistance in South Asian women.

The current study found that vitamin D supplementation was associated with a reduced frequency of type 1 diabetes.

For the study, Hyppönen E (and colleagues) from the Institute of Child Health in London examined data on vitamin D supplementation and suspected rickets from children of 12,055 pregnant women in Oulu and Lapland in Northern Finland who were due to give birth in 1966.

The researchers found children who regularly received vitamin D supplementation were 88% less likely to have type 1 diabetes, while those who took vitamin D irregularly were 84 % less likely to have the disease, compared to those who did not receive any supplementation, whatsoever.

In comparison, those who took 2,000 IU per day were 78 percent less likely to have type 1 diabetes than those who regularly took lower than the recommended daily allowancet.

Children who were suspected of having rickets, caused by vitamin D deficiency, were three times as likely to suffer type 1diabetes for the first year of life, compared to those appeared to be rickets-free.

Infants exclusively breastfed are at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency. Children under the age of 2.5 years can take 1,000 per day, Dr. John Cannell, vitamin D expert and director of the Vitamin D Council, says on its website.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a wide spectrum of diseases including at least 17 types of cancers.

A recent trial conducted by Dr. Bruce Hollis and Dr. Carol Wagner of the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston showed that women who took 4,000 IU of vitamin D during pregnancy can reduce risk of premature birth.

The researchers also found Women taking high doses of vitamin D reduced their risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, and preeclampsia; babies getting the most vitamin D after birth were less likely to experience colds and eczema.

Type 1 diabetes is a health condition in which the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to properly handle blood sugar.

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