A vitamin D supplement every day can help keep diabetes away, a study suggests.
In a meta-analysis of 17 studies, Tufts University researchers found that pre-diabetics could reduce their likelihood of developing the potentially-crippling condition by 15 percent.
The ‘sunshine vitamin’, which is absorbed by the skin through the sun, is known to increase a person’s glucose tolerance and their blood’s sensitivity to insulin.
Officials estimate that 100million people across the US and UK have pre-diabetes — someone with unhealthy high blood sugar that is not high enough to be considered diabetic.
Vitamin D has many uses in the body, and not getting enough every day has been linked to brittle bones, a bad mood, and numb fingers.
Researchers found that over a four-year span, pre-diabetics who regularly used vitamin D supplements (dotted line) were 15 percent less likely to have their condition convert into diabetes than those who did not (solid line)
‘Vitamin D in people with prediabetes was beneficial in decreasing risk for diabetes and increasing the likelihood of regression to normal glucose regulation, with no offsetting safety signals,’ researchers wrote.
In an analysis published Monday in the American College of Physicians Journal, researchers from the Boston-area school found vitamin D supplements could help stave off diabetes.
They analyzed two other meta-analysis, which in turn included 17 studies between them. A total of 38,780 participants were included across all of the research. Within that group, 4,190 were pre-diabetic.
The studies in question looked at vitamin D’s use in preventing other injury and illnesses, such as bone fractures.
Each of them also included information on patients’ blood sugar as ancillary data, and the Tufts team gathered it for their major study.
They found that pre-diabetics who used a vitamin D supplement were 15 percent less likely to develop diabetes over the next four years.
Vitamin D is crucial to the body’s metabolizing of calcium and is long known to be great for bone health. Emerging research shows it can also help the body regulate blood sugar, making it a valuable tool for pre-diabetics. It is primarily absorbed by the skin through the sun, but supplements can help a person get their daily dose too (file photo)
Weight-related conditions such as obesity, diabetes and pre-diabetes have reached crisis levels in the US.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 70 percent of Americans are overweight, and 40 percent are obese.
Being too fat is one of the leading risk factors for type 2 diabetes and a host of other serious medical conditions.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when a person’s body either does not produce enough insulin or their blood begins to resist insulin because of a constant high blood sugar.
Unlike type 1 diabetes, a person cannot be born with the condition. In most cases, type 2 diabetes is caused by poor diet and exercise.
The CDC reports 40million Americans suffer from diabetes, with more than 90 percent having type 2.
While diabetes is not curable, some people with high blood sugar can still turn things around.
Pre-diabetes is a condition that occurs when a person suffers an unhealthy resting blood sugar, but not so high that it can be classified as diabetes.
An estimated 90million Americans are prediabetic, according to CDC. UK officials report 7million pre-diabetics across the pond. While many of these people will develop diabetes, they still have time to reverse course.
Diet and exercise are the usual tips for preventing the next stage from developing, but scientists believe they have found a new tool for preventing the disease.
Because the studies were looking at other factors, none gave an explanation as to why the vitamin helped combat high blood sugar.
But, experts have long suspected vitamin D could be a treatment to prevent diabetes.
The vitamin is most often associated with bone health, as it is needed by the body to process calcium and build a strong skeleton.
Vitamin D plays a crucial role in the body’s process of releasing insulin, which processes the sugar in the blood and allows it to be used for energy.
Calcium also helps stimulate insulin production in the body, which can also help fight diabetes.
There is also the fact that vitamin D is absorbed primarily while outdoors, and a person who spends more time doing active, outside activities is more likely to have healthy blood sugar.
While the sun is a great source of vitamin D, getting enough sun each day can be tough for the majority of Americans that spend 40 or more hours a week working indoors.
Vitamin D deficiency is primarily known to be a problem during winter, when people spend even more time indoors and bundle up heavily when trekking outside. This is where the supplements can help.
Experts warn that vitamin D supplements come with some downsides, though.
Taking too much vitamin D can lead to calcium deposits forming in the body, harming the function of organs like the heart and kidneys.