Vitamin D Status and Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Because insulin is the hormone necessary for allowing sugar to enter cells to produce energy, type 1 diabetics must use insulin injections to manage blood sugar levels. Doctors believe that various factors contribute to type 1 diabetes, including genetics, environmental triggers, as well as exposure to certain viruses. A new study examined whether low levels of maternal concentrations of vitamin D during pregnancy played a role in the development of type 1 diabetes in offspring.
In the study, researchers examined maternal serum concentrations of 25-hydroxy-vitamin D (25-OH D) during pregnancy and found that the odds of developing type 1 diabetes were 2 times higher for the offspring of women with the lowest levels of 25-OH D compared with the offspring of women with levels above the upper quartile. These results suggest that enhancing maternal 25-OH D status during pregnancy may help to prevent type 1 diabetes in offspring.
As we continue to learn more and more of all of the very important roles that vitamin D plays in the body, it is critical that everyone has their vitamin D level checked on a regular basis. Beyond calcium absorption and bone growth, vitamin D is involved in the modulation of cell growth (proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis), neuromuscular and immune function (autoimmunity, cancer, as well as colds/flu), and the reduction of inflammation.
Most Americans, including adults and children, are deficient in vitamin D. Certain risk factors contribute to a vitamin D deficiency, such as older age, lack of sunlight, darker skin color, being overweight, and having a chronic illness. You can easily have your status checked through a simple blood test (25-hydroxy-vitamin D serum test). Optimal ranges are between 50-70 ng/ml. It is important to know your vitamin D level so that you can supplement appropriately. In general, adults (including pregnant women) are recommended to take between 2,000 to 5,000 IU daily and infants/children are to take 1000 IU daily. If you are very deficient, sometimes it is necessary to initially take high doses for several months before taking a maintenance dose. Talk with your doctor or a nutritionist to see what is best for you. Vitamin D is one of the easiest supplements to take and is available in many forms, including liquid drops, tablets, chewable tablets, and small softgels. I recommend taking the D3 form for best absorption.
Study: “Maternal Serum Levels of 25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D During Pregnancy and Risk of Type 1 Diabetes in the Offspring,” Sørensen IM, Joner G, et al, Diabetes, 2011 Nov 28; [Epub ahead of print]. (Address: Department of Pediatrics, Oslo University Hospital Ullevål, Oslo, Norway. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ).
Article written by Margo Gladding, MS, CNS, LDN for Ellicott City Pharmacy.