Vitamin D is known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and maintain bone, joint, and muscle health. The skin naturally produces this vitamin after exposure to sunlight. Many people have are inside too much with office jobs, and when they are outside they slather on sunscreen, which significantly diminishes the sunlight exposure on the skin. Researchers say more than one billion people worldwide have low vitamin D levels due to limited exposure to sunlight.
In recent years, researchers have linked low vitamin D levels to insulin resistance and diabetes. Overcoming insulin resistancy, in particular, could be a way to head off type 2 diabetes before it sets in. Vitamin D is believed to help improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin, and thus reduce the risk of insulin resistance. Some scientists also believe this vitamin may help regulate the production of insulin in the pancreas.
Researchers are interested in whether vitamin D helps your body manage sugar in your blood. Additionally, they are interested in vitamin D’s role in regulating calcium, which also helps manage your blood sugar levels.
There is some research showing that young people who have higher vitamin D levels decreased their chances of developing type 2 diabetes later in life compared to people who had lower vitamin D levels. Studies have also shown that vitamin D supplements can help some symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
Remember though, taking vitamin D is not a prevention method of type 2 diabetes, nor is it a replacement of regularly prescribed medication.
A study conducted in Spain and published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism concluded that vitamin D levels were more closely linked to blood sugar levels than BMI. However, what the study was unable to determine was whether or not Vitamin D played a role in causing diabetes or other disorders that affect the metabolism of glucose. The study was only designed to find an association between these factors.
So to help in determining a direct link between vitamin D deficiency and type 2 diabetes, another study was required.
Currently, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Research (NIDDK) is the primary sponsor of a large study in the United States.
The Vitamin D and Type 2 diabetes (D2d) study is a large multi-center clinical trial conducted in twenty cities around the United States. The D2d study will enroll approximately 2,400 participants who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Participants are randomly assigned to receive either vitamin D or placebo and be followed for up to 4 years for development of diabetes. The D2d study is expected to define the role of vitamin D supplementation in modifying diabetes risk in people at risk for the disease.
The goal of D2d study is to determine whether vitamin D supplementation is safe and effective in delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes in people at risk for the disease and to gain a better understanding of how vitamin D affects glucose metabolism.