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Vitamin D3 Linked to Diabetes Prevention

Vitamin D3 may offer hope for pre-diabetics. A team of researchers from Tufts and Harvard have linked vitamin D supplementation with better functioning of the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.

The findings were published in the August 2011 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The 92 participants in the study had an average age of 57 and an average BMI of 32 kg/m2. They were split into three groups and given either 2000 IU of vitamin D3 with or without calcium or 800 mg of calcium carbonate daily over the course of 16 weeks.

At the study’s conclusion, beta-cell function (as measured by insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity) showed a 26% improvement in the vitamin D group. In comparison, the group taking only calcium carbonate showed a 14% decline in beta-cell function. Within the vitamin D group, there appeared to be no differences between those taking calcium and those taking solely vitamin D.

Low levels of beta cell function in the pancreas predict the risk of diabetes. The findings of this study suggest that vitamin D3 may play a role in delaying the progression from pre-diabetes to type-2 diabetes.

Vitamin D is well known for its many health benefits, most notably in regard to bone health. Vitamin D has also been shown to support the immune system, normal muscle function, healthy teeth and gums, cardiovascular health, improved eye health, skin cancer prevention, and reduction in age-related mental decline.

It is important to remember that getting your daily dose of vitamin D is difficult through sunshine alone, especially as we age and our skin becomes less efficient at synthesizing the vitamin. For this reason it may be beneficial to add more vitamin D fortified foods to your diet such as dairy and cereals.

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