January 2, 2012

Could a vitamin D deficiency be a factor for Type 1 diabetes?

by

The saying a penny of prevention is worth a pound of cure may be true in this case. A pediatric endocrinologist in Canada believes that that high doses of vitamin D could prevent children from getting t.ype 1 diabetes.

The number of type 1 diabetes diagnoses are increasing. The interesting fact is that northern countries, further away from the equator, are growing at a faster rate than those with more sunlight. One theory is that there’s a direct relationship between an insufficiency of vitamin D and the onset of Type 1 diabetes.

To support this theory – Finland has one of the highest documented rates of type 1 diabetes. Back in 2001, Finish researchers had published a study on vitamin D supplementation and Type 1 diabetes rates in a group of babies who were followed for three decades.

“Dietary vitamin D supplementation is associated with reduced risk of type 1 diabetes. Ensuring adequate vitamin D supplementation for infants could help to reverse the increasing trend in the incidence of type 1 diabetes.” It is this kind of finding, more than a decade ago, that leaves me scratching my head. If something could have been done to prevent you or your child from developing type 1 diabetes – what’s the incentive to NOT share this information?

Here’s the good news: a study to show the effects of vitamin D supplementation in babies at high risk for developing type 1 diabetes has been proposed. The immune system and the insulin-secreting beta cells in the diabetic pancreas have receptors for vitamin D. It is the hope of the researchers to show that supplementation with the vitamin will help prevent the development of type 1 diabetes.

Before clinical results can be published for this study, one researcher advised, “I would suggest avoiding vitamin D deficiency at a young age. At present, that means just taking the regular [amounts] that are being advised by your national guidelines.”

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