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|Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor|
Diabetics are at a higher risk for heart disease because high blood sugar damages blood vessels and can lead to blockage. A recent study from Iran suggests that vitamin D3 fortified yogurt drinks may help diabetics reduce the risk of heart disease as well as manage their blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
The researchers are based at the National Research Institute and Faculty of Nutrition and Food Technology as Shahid Behesti University of Medical Sciences in Tehran, Iran. The findings were published online ahead of print on November 24, 2011 in the journal BMC Medicine.
Participants in the study were split into two groups, with one group receiving a yogurt drink fortified with 500 IU of vitamin D3 and one group receiving a plain yogurt drink twice daily for 12 weeks.
At the onset and the conclusion of the study, the researchers measured the effects of vitamin D on glycemic status, cholesterol levels, and endothelial (blood vessel) biomarkers. Endothelial dysfunction is a precursor to heart disease.
They found that vitamin D3 intake improved fasting glucose, insulin resistance, cholesterol, and measures of endothelial function. Almost all of the participants were vitamin D deficient at the onset of the study. 95% of the participants who consumed the fortified drink were at normal levels by the conclusion of the study.
Vitamin D has been linked to a wide variety of health benefits, including reductions in skin cancer, reducing the risk of osteoporosis, improved cardiovascular health, and improving age related eye degeneration.
Dietary vitamin D can be found in milk, fortified cereals, fish, and eggs. Your body also processes vitamin D from the sun but as we age our bodies become less efficient at synthesizing vitamin D from sunlight. A high quality vitamin D supplement is a good option if you feel that you’re not getting enough through diet and sun.
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