Diabetes MellitusElderlyMetabolic SyndromeVitamin D

Importance of vitamin D screening and supplementation in diabetes

During the Endocrine Society’s Annual Meeting, Researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Sinai Hospital, in Baltimore, Maryland, reported an association between vitamin D deficiency and type 2 diabetes.

First, the details.

  • The medical records of 124 patients with type 2 diabetes were reviewed.
    • Patients’ age ranged from 36 to 89 years.
  • All patients had a single measurement of their 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels as part of their evaluation at the clinic.
  • The researchers divided the patients into 4 groups based on vitamin D blood level.

And, the results.

  • 91% of patients had either vitamin D deficiency (blood level below 15 ng/dL) or insufficiency (15 to 31 ng/dL).
  • Only about 6% of patients were taking vitamin D supplements at their first visit to the diabetes clinic.
  • Lower blood levels of vitamin D were associated with higher their A1c values–a measure of blood sugar control over the past several months (lower is generally better).
  • Compared with whites, blacks had a higher average A1c and lower average vitamin D levels.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “Since primary care providers diagnose and treat most patients with type 2 diabetes, screening and vitamin D supplementation as part of routine primary care may improve health outcomes of this highly prevalent condition.”

These results support findings published last year by researchers from China and the UK who concluded, “Vitamin D deficiency is common in the middle-aged and elderly Chinese and low 25(OH)D level is significantly associated with increased risk of having the metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance.”

Metabolic syndrome is a combination of medical disorders that increase the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

There seems to be no end to the contributions of vitamin D to health. Considering all the research that’s been published in the past 2 years, one wonders why more healthcare professional don’t include vitamin D blood levels as part of each patient’s initial laboratory screening.

6/22/10 14:25 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.