More vitamin D may contribute to better blood sugar regulation in type 2 diabetes. Eggs are a good source of vitamin D, but in the winter period it may be a good idea to take a high-dosed supplement.
Vitamin D is important for our bones and immune defense, and it keeps us protected against inflammation, cancer, and other diseases. However, diabetics have difficulty with maintaining their vitamin D levels. This is partly due to the fact that they have impaired renal function, but also because they are often overweight. A team of researchers from Iowa, the United States, have discovered that rats on an egg-based diet had higher concentrations of vitamin D in their blood. Also, blood sugar improvements were observed in the egg-consuming rats, who also gained less weight. The question is, how many eggs may we humans consume on a daily basis, and are there other ways diabetics can get sufficient vitamin D?
Eggs contain the form of vitamin D, which is found in our blood
There are two different forms of vitamin D, both of which are derived from cholesterol. Vegetable vitamin D sources contain D2, animal sources contain D3, and since the beginning of time we humans have especially synthesized vitamin D in our skin in response to sunlight exposure. The different types of vitamin D must first be activated in the liver and converted into 25-hydroxyvitamin D3, and into another form in the kidneys. Because of this, compromised liver and kidney function may have a negative influence on the body's ability to utilize vitamin D
The Iowa scientists were therefore primarily interested in 25-hydroxyvitamin D3, which is measured in the blood, and which reflects the body's vitamin D status.
Vitamin D from sun exposure, dietary sources, or supplements must get converted into 25-hydroxyvitamin D3, something which diabetics apparently have difficulty with. Consequently, the team of researchers fed eggs to the diabetic rats, as this specific food source has the highest natural content of active 25-hydroxyvitamin D3.
Convincing results with regard to blood sugar and triglycerides
The study results were significant. The rats that were given an egg-based diet had a 50 per cent reduction in their blood sugar levels, compared with the rats on a standard diet. The egg-fed rats also had 148 percent higher levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3. Finally, levels of triglycerides (a risk factor of cardiovascular disease) were 52 percent lower in the rats that consumed eggs. More research is needed in order to understand why vitamin D from eggs is utilized better. The scientists assume that it may have something to do with the other nutrients in eggs.
Eat the whole egg
Only the egg yolk contains 25-hydroxyvitamin D3. In fact, the yolk is the part of the egg that contains the most nutrition - including vitamin A, vitamin E, and lutein that have powerful antioxidant properties and protect both cholesterol and the cardiovascular system against free radicals. It is always best to eat the entire egg.
What science needs to discover next is the minimum number of eggs needed to be consumed by diabetics in order to improve their blood sugar etc. The above mentioned study was designed to ensure that the rats got enough eggs to meet their daily protein requirement. In humans, this would correspond to a daily intake of 17-18 eggs. Nonetheless, the scientists believe that humans would be able to obtain the same benefits with substantially fewer eggs. They also want to look into how fiber and other dietary components can help maintain the body's vitamin D status and improve diabetes symptoms.
An obvious combination
Experts disagree on how many eggs we humans should ideally consume. This is largely due to the fact that the egg yolk contains cholesterol, which is associated with atherosclerosis. However, cholesterol is an essential substance, and recent studies suggest that cholesterol is not dangerous unless free radicals oxidize it. Here, the egg yolk contributes by offering antioxidant protection.
Some years ago, a Danish physician wanted to look closer at the matter. He ended up eating eight eggs every single day, and his cholesterol levels did not increase. On the contrary.
Eating that many eggs every day is not exactly a balanced diet, needless to say, but it served a purpose. It showed that we can easily consume one or two eggs daily, possibly even more in omelets and other egg-based dishes as part of a balanced diet.
Nonetheless, it is difficult to get enough vitamin D from the diet alone, and during the winter period we humans are not able to synthesize vitamin D from sunlight. It is therefore a very good idea to supplement an otherwise balanced diet with vitamin D, until the time of year where the sun is high in the sky again and we no longer need supplements.
Because it is more difficult for diabetics to utilize vitamin D from supplements, and they often are overweight and therefore have increased needs for the nutrient, supplements with higher vitamin D content are better for this group.
Vitamin D, supplements, and absorption
Vitamin D is a lipid-soluble vitamin, which is why it is easier for us humans to utilize supplements with vitamin D dissolved in oil in capsules. Experts claim that it is safe to take daily doses of 38-100 micrograms of vitamin D, which is not more than what our skin normally synthesizes when we expose our entire body to 10-15 minutes of midday sun during the summer period.
Iowa State University: New promise for diabetics with vitamin D-deficiency. ScienceDaily. 2016
Steen Ahrenkiel: D-vitamin behov og mangel I Danmark. Biokemisk Forening 2009
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