Diabetes MellitusVitamin D

More research on vitamin D and diabetes

It has been observed that low levels of vitamin D and calcium are associated with higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

Now, researchers in Boston report an explanation underlying the relationship.

First, the details.

  • 92 adults at high risk of diabetes were randomly assigned to a treatment group for 16 weeks.
    • Cholecalciferol (a form of vitamin D, also called vitamin D3) 2000 IU once daily
    • Calcium carbonate 400 mg twice daily
    • Placebo
  • Pancreatic beta cell ability to secrete insulin was measured using a glucose-tolerance test.
  • Insulin response, insulin sensitivity, and measures of changes in blood levels of glucose were also measured.
  • Neither the patients nor researchers knew the treatment given — double blind.

The bottom line?

  • Participants had an A1c of 5.9%.
    • A1c test is used as a standard tool to determine blood sugar control for patients with diabetes.
    • Levels at or higher than 6.5% are diagnostic for diabetes.
  • Higher levels of vitamin D were associated with significantly improved insulin secretion.
  • A1c was not changed in either group.
  • There was no significant difference in any outcomes with calcium compared with no calcium.

The bottom line?

The value of this study is that it shows a logical progression from observation to analytical testing of a hypothesis. It has limited application to treatment at this time.

Accordingly, the authors concluded, “In adults at risk of type 2 diabetes, short-term supplementation with cholecalciferol improved beta cell function.”

7/19/11 20:42 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.