June 05, 2008
Vitamin D Might Cut Type I Diabetes Risk

Vitamin D appears to play an important role in the immune system. In a recent post about rheumatoid arthritis risk factors I mentioned that vitamin D appears to cut the risk of getting that terrible auto-immune disorder. Well, now comes a report from vitamin D researcher Cedric Garland of USCD about how type I auto-immune diabetes occurs at the highest rates where people get less sunshine and therefore get less vitamin D synthesized in their skin.

Sun exposure and vitamin D levels may play a strong role in risk of type 1 diabetes in children, according to new findings by researchers at the Moores Cancer Center at University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. This association comes on the heels of similar research findings by this same group regarding vitamin D levels and several major cancers.

In this new study, the researchers found that populations living at or near the equator, where there is abundant sunshine (and ultraviolet B irradiance) have low incidence rates of type 1 diabetes. Conversely, populations at higher latitudes, where available sunlight is scarcer, have higher incidence rates. These findings add new support to the concept of a role of vitamin D in reducing risk of this disease.

Ultraviolet B (UVB) exposure triggers photosynthesis of vitamin D3 in the skin. This form of vitamin D also is available through diet and supplements.

"This is the first study, to our knowledge, to show that higher serum levels of vitamin D are associated with reduced incidence rates of type 1 diabetes worldwide," said Cedric F. Garland, Dr. P.H., professor of Family and Preventive Medicine in the UCSD School of Medicine, and member of the Moores UCSD Cancer Center.

The study is published June 5 in the online version of the scientific journal Diabetologia.

Do I even need to mention that vitamin D seems to also cut the risk of the killer auto-immune disorder Multiple Sclerosis? Want to avoid auto-immune disorders, cut your risk of cancer, and probably reduce your incidence of infectious diseases? Vitamin D delivers many benefits.

My Australian and Kiwi readers (and Chileans and Argentineans) are coming up on their shortest day of the year and they ought to be thinking about vitamin D supplementation. Northern hemisphere denizens who stay indoors the vast bulk of the time ought to consider vitamin D supplementation during the summer as well.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 June 05 08:55 PM  Nutrition Immune Disorders

Jake said at June 6, 2008 10:08 AM:

Don't take your Vitamin D level or your dosage for granted. You must have your level tested.

I am recovering from prostate cancer so I wanted to make sure my 25(OH)D Vitamin D level was above 70. I was taking 3000 units a day before my first test. My level tested to be 22.
(more proof that low levels of Vitamin D causes prostate cancer.)

The doctor upped my dose to 6000 units. 60 days later my test results were 24. I am now taking 10,000 units a day and hoping for the best.

Tatarize said at June 7, 2008 6:06 AM:

Uncontrolled cell growth causes cancer and whatever it takes to cause such cell growth. Vitamin D has shown rather remarkable cancer and illness fighting powers but that's a far cry from claiming that low vitamin D *CAUSES* it.

ajacksonian said at June 7, 2008 11:15 AM:

Having come off of an NIH study, one of the side things they were looking at was Vitamin D in Type I diabetics, although the study, itself, was the use of a hormone that non one really knows how it works but is safe for Type II folks.

One of the things that isn't known about Vit. D is that it is a weak immuno-suppressant, so that may be part of the low sunlight Type I link as seen in the northern climes. As Type I is (as far as we can tell right now although it has proven to be one of the trickiest conditions to figure out) an autoimmune disease, getting sunlight and/or Vit. D just might be enough to keep the immune system from getting at the insulin producing cells for awhile. What *causes* your immune system to do that in the first place? Ahhhhh.... that is why it is one of the hardest disorders to pin down, now, isn't it? If it were simple it would have been cured by now.

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