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Diabetes and vitamin D

Diabetes is a condition that arises due to a body's difficulty in managing sugar in the right manner. If not managed properly, one can develop symptoms like eyesight issues, skin conditions, circulation problem and high blood pressure.

Do you know what is the role of vitamin D in diabetes?

Many researchers are interested in whether Vitamin D helps the body manage sugar in blood. They also believe that vitamin D's role is towards managing calcium that ultimately helps in managing sugar.Young people who have higher Vitamin D levels have a decreased chance of developing T2D in later life as compared to those who have had low Vitamin D levels.

Here there lies a conflict because studies show that vitamin D supplements can help some symptoms of T2D. However, we can’t fully say that supplementing people with high risks of developing diabetes can actually reduce the risk. Vitamin D supplements are unlikely to harm you or make your symptoms worse, but they won’t help preventing diabetes. Lets us look at a greater understanding of how vitamin D and diabetes are related.

What is Vitamin D?

It is a fat soluble vitamin that plays various important roles in the body- helps in maintaining the health of bones, teeth and joints, as well as assisting the immune system functions.

This under-rated vitamin is found in certain foods but is also produced by the body in response to exposure to the sun. Once the sun’s ultraviolet rays are in contact with the body, it converts a cholesterol derivative into Vitamin D. It is known that every cell and tissue within the body has a vitamin D protein receptor.

What if there is Vitamin D deficiency?

There are various signs of vitamin D deficiency like - Bone pain, Muscle weakness, Depression, Weakened immune system, Obesity, High BP, Psoriasis, Osteoporosis, Chronic fatigue, Alzheimer’s diseases, Cancer, Type 2 diabetes

Vitamin D and diabetes

Vitamin D deficiency and diabetes have a major characteristic in common- they are both pandemic, ie widespread. Vitamin D is believed to help improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin, which is the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels, thus reducing the risk of insulin resistance which is a precursor to Type 2 diabetes. Some researchers believe the vitamin may help in regulating the production of insulin in the pancreas. The ideal range of VitaminD levels should be between 20-56 ng/ml (50-140 nmol/l)*, with anything below 20 ng/ml considered deficient.

However, it is now known that raising the amount of vitamin D in your body to around 60-80 ng/ml can help keep blood glucose levels under control, which is vital for people with diabetes.

Notethe correct level of vitamin D varies from person to person. The only way to be sure that your vitamin D levels are where they should be is to request a 25-hydroxyvitamin D, or 25(OH)D, blood test from your GP. Ideally your blood level of 25 OH D should be 60ng/ml.

Vitamin D as an aid to diabetes

Yes, Vitamin D helps in glycemic control, but what are the other factors involved in maintaining healthy Vitamin D levels? How can they help with diabetes? Lets read below.

Regulate appetite:It helps with increasing the levels of the hormone leptin. This hormone controls body fat storage and triggers the sensation of fullness thus lowering hunger levels.

Reducing belly fat:With an increase in Vitamin D, cortisol can be lowered, which is known to be a stress hormone produced in the adrenal glands. It helps in the body’s response to stress and regulation of blood pressure. Higher levels can lead to increased abdominal fat which is directly linked to diabetes.

Help in weight loss: Vitamin D helps to reduce parathyroid levels which promote weight loss and reduce the risk of obesity that is a major factor of Type 2 diabetes.

The different types of Vitamin D

There are majorly two types- D2 and D3. While D2 is synthetic, D3 is non-synthetic.

D2 is known as ergocalciferol, having a short shelf life. D3, also known as cholecalciferol is produced by the body due to the exposure to sun.

D3 is more effective than D2, and in a place like India where there is ample supply of UVB rays, one can consistently help with maintaining its levels.

What all to look out for while buying supplements?

The packaging that mention ‘good source of vitamin D’ or ‘fortified with Vitamin D’ in their labels usually contain the massively inferior quality of Vitamin D. Therefore, when looking for Vitamin D rich foods or supplements, see for the ‘type’ of the vitamin each product contains.

Where to buy supplements?

Vitamin D drops are available at most pharmacies, and markets. Multivitamins provide a daily dose of around 400(IU) but there are some which offer 1000-5000 IU per day. The outdoors are a great source of the Vitamin so make sure to sun bathe as many times as comfortable. Note- Consult with doctor before intaking extra Vitamin D to make sure its safe and wont interact with the standard diabetes medication.

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