The link between type 1 diabetes and vitamin D deficiency

Low vitamin D levels are often seen in patients with type 1 diabetes, and new research suggests this deficiency occurs at an early age in children with the blood sugar condition.

Scientists from the Institute of Diabetes Research and the Helmholtz Zentrum München, a member of the German Center for Diabetes Research, studied how vitamin D deficiency occurs during the early stages of type 1 diabetes. They wanted to determine whether or not this particular deficiency would influence the progression of the autoimmune disorder in children who had multiple diabetes-specific islet autoantibodies.

Deficiency already exists

The researchers found that children who hadn't developed type 1 diabetes yet but who had high amounts of positive autoantibodies in their blood had lower vitamin D levels than kids without the autoantibodies. The study included 108 children who were tested positive for islet autoantibodies and 406 children without autoantibodies.

The progression of diabetes didn't seem to be influenced by vitamin D levels. A few children in the study developed diabetes quickly, but this was independent of their vitamin D levels, the researchers said.

Vitamin D is an important building block for bone health, allowing the body to utilize calcium properly. Recent research suggests that most American adults are deficient in vitamin D, and, according to functional medicine expert Dr. Mark Hyman, the problem has been linked to cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and other autoimmune disorders.

Given the findings, physicians might need to consider a vitamin D supplement for children in the early stages of type 1 diabetes, the researchers said.

"Vitamin D deficiency precedes the onset of type 1 diabetes," they wrote. "This may be a consequence of an immune response. In the case of pre-diabetic children, we must therefore be mindful of the risk of vitamin D deficiency and consider recommending vitamin D supplementation at an early stage of type 1 diabetes."

Source: Science Daily
Photo credit: foto76/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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