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Vitamin D Deficiency in Early Childhood May Increase Risk of Type-1 Diabetes

Type-1 diabetes is caused when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys beta cells in the pancreas called islet tissue. A recent study found a link between vitamin D deficiency in infancy and childhood and a higher risk of developing type 1 diabetes.

Participants in the study included 8,676 children who were screened and recruited in the US, Finland, Germany, and Sweden in 2004. The children had clinic visits every three months, starting between three and 48 months of age, during which blood samples were drawn in order to determine vitamin D levels and the presences of islet autoimmunity. Islet autoimmunity is a precursor to type-1 diabetes.

The researchers found that 376 children developed islet autoimmunity. They compared those children to 1,041 who did not. After examining the data, they found that vitamin D levels in infancy and childhood were lower in the children who developed islet autoimmunity, when compared with those who did not.

The researchers noted that the study did not look at whether vitamin D intervention may have an effect on the risk of developing islet autoimmunity.

Researchers from the Colorado School of Public Health at CU’s Anschutz Medical Center conducted the study. It was published in the November 2017 issue of Diabetes.

Previous studies have associated vitamin D with improved lipid profiles in diabetics, lower risk of asthma and allergies in children, reducing the risk of skin damage, reducing the risk of osteoporosis, combating diabetes, lower risk of cognitive decline, and improving age-related macular degeneration.

Vitamin D can be found in milk, fortified cereals, fish, and eggs. Your body also processes vitamin D from the sun but it becomes harder for our bodies to process it as we age. A high-quality vitamin D supplement is always a good option if you feel that you’re not getting enough through diet and sun.

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