Research, originating from the Well Cornell Medical College in New York, specifies that vitamin A deficiency is a potential culprit of type 2 diabetes. Tyoe 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for 90-95% of all diagnosed cases and is characterized by insulin resistance, where insulin producing pancreatic cells do not function effectively.
Vitamin A is available in two forms; known as retinol and beta-carotene respectively. Retinol is present in meat, poultry, fish and dairy products, while beta-carotene is found in many fruits and vegetables. Vitamin A aids cell growth and contributes to a healthy immune system and vision.
The study used mice models to investigate the impact of vitamin A on beta cell production. One group of mice had been genetically modified to be unable to store dietary vitamin A, while the other group was able to store the vitamin from foods as normal.
The research findings revealed that mice who were unable to store vitamin An experienced beta cell death, meaning these mice were unable to produce insulin. When vitamin A was removed from the diets of healthy mice, the researchers found this led to significant beta cell loss, resulting in reduced insulin production and increased blood glucose levels.
The study scientists specify that their findings are an important criteria for future research as the metabolic mechanism of how vitamin A deficiency causes the death of pancreatic beta cells still needs to be clarified.
Vitamin A deficiency causes hyperglycemia and loss of pancreatic β-cell mass, Lorraine Gudas, et al., The Journal of Biological Chemistry , doi: 10.1074/jbc.M114.616763, published online 1 December 2014.