New studies have emerged that suggest that Vitamin D and calcium supplements in addition to diet and exercise may prevent type 2 diabetes in individuals who have prediabetes. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to prediabetes, defined as having blood glucose, or sugar, level that is too high but not high enough to be considered diabetes.
“Without healthy lifestyle changes, nothing works to prevent diabetes in at-risk individuals,” said the lead author, Deep Dutta, MD, DM, a research officer at the Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research and Seth Sukhlal Karnani Memorial Hospital in Calcutta, India. “However, our results are encouraging because the addition of vitamin D and calcium supplements is easy and low in cost.”
“If our results are confirmed in a large multicenter trial,” Dutta said, “vitamin D supplementation would provide us with a new tool in the armamentarium of diabetes prevention strategies.”
The study investigated 170 individuals with prediabetes who had not taken vitamin D supplements in the past 6 months. One hundred and twenty five people had vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency, which the researchers defined as having a vitamin D blood level of 30 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) or less. These 125 study subjects were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups which received ready-to-mix, powdered vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol, D-Rise sachets, USV Ltd., Mumbai, India) at a dose of 60,000 International Units (IU) once weekly for eight weeks and then monthly. They also received a daily 1,250-milligram calcium carbonate tablet.
The second group received 57 subjects with calcium supplements only. Both groups were advised to eat a healthy, calorie-appropriate diet and to engage in brisk exercise for 30 minutes each day.
The research findings revealed that at the end of the study, those who received vitamin D supplementation had much higher vitamin D levels in the blood and lower fasting blood glucose levels compared with the other group. Every unit (1 ng/mL) increase in vitamin D in the body was associated with a 5.4 percent increased chance of reversal to normal blood sugar levels.
A second study revealing the impact of Vitamin D was presented at a study at the joint meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society, ICE/ENDO 2014 in Chicago. The researchers in this case directly administered Vitamin D to the hypothalamus of rats. The rats treated in this manner ate less food and lost 24 percent of their weight despite not changing the way they burned calories, study data showed.
“Vitamin D deficiency occurs often in obese people and in patients with Type 2 diabetes, yet no one understands if it contributes to these diseases,” said Stephanie Sisley, MD, the study’s principal investigator and an assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston. “Our results suggest that vitamin D may play a role in the onset of both obesity and Type 2 diabetes by its action in the brain.”
“The brain is the master regulator of weight,” Sisley said. A region of the brain called the hypothalamus controls both weight and glucose, and has vitamin D receptors there.
“Vitamin D is never going to be the silver bullet for weight loss, but it may work in combination with strategies we know work, like diet and exercise,” Sisley commented.
She said more research is necessary to determine if obesity alters vitamin D transport into the brain or its action in the brain.
Endocrine Society. “Vitamin D can lower weight, blood sugar via the brain, study finds
Endocrine Society. “Raising low vitamin D levels lowers risk of prediabetes progressing to diabetes