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Vitamin D lowers your risk of overweight and diabetes

– and many people are deficient of the nutrient

Vitamin D lowers your risk of overweight and diabetesOverweight is a growing problem, bringing in its wake problems like type 2 diabetes that is spreading like a bushfire. Many people lead a hopeless battle against overweight, unaware that it is their insulin resistance that gets in the way. This is when cells have difficulty with absorbing sugar from the bloodstream. Now, a new Brazilian study has demonstrated that vitamin D increases insulin sensitivity, thereby lowering the risk of overweight and type 2 diabetes. Still, according to existing science, it is not possible to get enough vitamin D without sufficient exposure to sunlight. At our latitude, it is necessary to take a vitamin D supplement throughout the entire winter period.

A new Brazilian study suggests that vitamin D may increase insulin sensitivity, thereby helping to lower blood sugar levels and the risk of type 2 diabetes. To better understand the underlying mechanism, you need to know how the body metabolizes its carbohydrates, especially those we get from grain, bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, corn, fruit and sugar.
Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose that is absorbed as blood sugar in the bloodstream. In response to this, the pancreas produces insulin that works by helping the blood sugar into the cells. If the diet you eat is too rich in carbohydrate, however, especially the refined carbs that you get from white flour, French fries, white sugar, and juice, it burdens the pancreas, eventually causing what is known as insulin resistance. This is a condition where the cellular uptake of glucose is inadequate and is a problem that can easily turn into a vicious cycle. Carbohydrates from the food we eat are not metabolized properly, so instead of giving us a feeling a satiety, they leave the bloodstream without being processed and are stored as harmful fat, typically around the vital organs, which can cause us to develop a pot belly or an apple-shaped body with too much visceral fat. Meanwhile, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes goes up, leading to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, infections, poor wound healing, stroke, and premature death.

Under normal circumstances, the brain and nervous system burn glucose for fuel, whereas our muscles, heart, and other tissues also use fat and protein.


Lack of vitamin D is related to insulin resistance and elevated blood sugar levels

The new Brazilian study included 680 women aged 35-74 years. The purpose of the study was to evaluate a possible link between vitamin D deficiency and elevated blood sugar caused by insulin resistance.
It turned out that 24 (3.5%) of the interviewed women took vitamin D supplements and that had a positive effect on their blood sugar. The same was the case with the women, who made sure to get plenty of sunshine on a daily basis. The study generally showed that lack of vitamin D is related to insulin resistance and elevated blood sugar.
It also suggested that many people living in the southern hemisphere lack vitamin D because they avoid the sun.

  • The sun is our primary source of vitamin D
  • Too much indoor activity, overuse of sun factor cream, being dark-skinned, ageing, wearing a veil, and the dark winter period are factors that can easily cause a vitamin D deficiency.



How vitamin D regulates insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels

Most cells in the body have vitamin D receptors (VDR). Vitamin D is considered a lipid-soluble hormone. The new Brazilian study and several earlier studies indicate that vitamin D has several mechanisms that may explain its effect on blood sugar levels, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes.
Science knows that the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas have vitamin D receptors, and it is assumed that vitamin D is necessary to enable pro-insulin (a precursor of insulin) to be converted into insulin. Vitamin D receptors have also been spotted in the hypothalamus of the brain. This part of the brain controls our appetite and metabolism, and according to Stephanie Sisley, who is a scientist, the hypothalamus is also highly important for our blood sugar levels and our ability to manage our weight.

We need vitamin D to help us make proper insulin.


Lack of vitamin D in the blood can increase the risk of diabetes by 500 percent

Blood levels of vitamin D are measured as 25-hydroxyvitamin D, and scientist have not yet managed to establish the optimal blood levels of vitamin D with regard to insulin sensitivity and blood sugar. Scientists at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Seoul National University in the US may have come one step closer with a new study. The researchers studied data from 903 healthy men, who had their vitamin D levels and fasting blood sugar measured in connection with medical consultations in the period 1997-1999. The researchers followed the men until 2009 and took new blood samples to measure their blood levels of vitamin D and fasting blood sugar.
It turned out that the men who had vitamin D levels below 30 ng/mL were up to five times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared to the men who had levels above 50 ng/mL. In other words, the higher the blood levels of vitamin D, the lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

It is believed that the actual need for vitamin D depends on age, skin type, BMI, genes, how well the body activates the nutrient, and many other facts, yet the theory is widely debated.


Supplements and upper safe blood level limit

As mentioned, the sun is our primary source of vitamin D, but at the northern latitudes, it does not sit sufficiently high in the sky for us to be able to synthesize the vitamin. According to the American scientist, Professor Cedric F. Garland, it is necessary during the winter period to take 50-75 micrograms of vitamin D daily in order to reach blood levels of 30 ng/mL. This is far beyond the RI level (reference intake), and it is also much more than you get from a regular vitamin pill. Professor Garland claims that it is safe to take high doses of vitamin D, but blood levels above 1125 ng/mL may cause nausea, constipation, weight loss, arrythmia, and kidney damage.

Did you know that the trace element chromium is also useful for insulin sensitivity?


The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Vitamin D could lower the risk of developing diabetes. ScienceDaily 2019

Scott LaFee. Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Greater Risk of Diabetes. UC San Diego Health. April 2018

Plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin concentration and risk of type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes. 12-year cohort study. PLoS One 2018

Eneida Boteon Schmitt et al. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with metabolic syndrome in postmenopausal women. Maturitas 2018

Iowa State University: New promise for diabetics with vitamin D-deficiency. ScienceDaily. 2016

Vitamin D might be key to syndrome affecting half of women aged 50 or plus: Research with postmenopausal women, found a 57.8 percent rate of metabolic syndrome among women presenting

Vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency. -- ScienceDaily

Iowa State University: New promise for diabetics with vitamin D-deficiency. ScienceDaily. 2016

Pernille Lund. Sådan får du styr på dit blodsukker. Ny Videnskab 2013

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