Vitamin D Deficiency Increases Risk for Type-1 Diabetes

April 22, 2018

Both type-1 and type-2 diabetes are growing issues in America. While type-2 is associated with lifestyle factors, type-1, an autoimmune disease, is generally thought to be less preventable. However, with rates rising by 3-5% every year worldwide, researchers are searching for factors that can decrease risk. The fact that the disease occurrence is increasing suggests there's a preventable cause. And researchers may have found it.

Researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health have uncovered an interesting connection between vitamin D and a process called islet autoimmunity. While their focus was in children, the implications are for everyone. When a person has islet autoimmunity, immune system antibodies attack the pancreas' islet cells that are responsible for making insulin. As you can imagine, this is a major contributor to type-1 diabetes.

Because vitamin D helps to regulate the immune system and autoimmune processes, the researchers began looking for a connection between this vitamin and islet autoimmunity. For their study, the researchers looked at data from over 1,400 children participating in The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young (TEDDY) study. This is a research effort aimed at identifying risk and protective factors for children with a higher risk of type-1 diabetes.

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The children participating in the TEDDY study have blood drawn every three to six months starting from infancy. So the researchers were able to evaluate their vitamin D levels as well as their islet autoimmunity over time. For this study, they compared 376 children who developed islet immunity to 1,041 who didn't. They also looked specifically at a variant in the vitamin D receptor gene and found that for the children with this variant who developed islet autoimmunity, their vitamin D levels were lower in infancy and childhood. Higher vitamin D levels were associated with a decreased risk of developing islet autoimmunity.

So far, this study only shows a correlation, not a causation, but the researchers are planning further studies to determine whether vitamin D treatment can help prevent type-1 diabetes from developing. Given that type-1 diabetes risk increases the further north you get from the equator, this is likely a promising area to investigate.

We already know that taking vitamin D daily is great for preventing a number of health conditions. Taking it to help avoid diabetes is just one more reason everyone should be taking this vitamin. While most adults won't contract type-1 diabetes, we're finding more and more adults who have the disease. So it's vital you protect yourself against all forms of diabetes. And vitamin D can help. You can order high quality vitamin D by following this link.

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Norris JM, Lee H, Frederiksen B, Erlund I, Uusitalo U, Yang J, Lernmark A, Simell O, Toppari J, Rewers M, Ziegler A-G, She J-X, Onengut-Gumuscu S, Chen W-M, Rich SS, Sundvall J, Akolkar B, Krischer J, Virtanen SM, Hagopian W. Plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration and risk of islet autoimmunity. Diabetes, October 2017 DOI: 10.2337/db17-0802.

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