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Avoid Diabetes With This Killer Vitamin!
It is becoming more and more widely acknowledged how important vitamin D is for maintaining optimal health. However, new research shows that this essential nutrient may be very beneficial for people at risk of developing diabetes. It turns out that vitamin D may help protect against insulin resistance. To understand what’s really going on here, a brief overview of vitamin D is necessary.
Understanding Vitamin D and Its Benefits
It’s actually somewhat of a misnomer to call vitamin D a “vitamin,” as it is actually a hormone. Vitamin D can be obtained through dietary sources and through exposure to sunlight, which causes the body to synthesize its own. It is essential for growing and maintaining strong bones and a healthy immune system. It also helps ward off depression, improve brain function, reduce blood pressure, and may even reduce the risk of cancer.
Despite the widely acknowledged importance of vitamin D, the majority of people around the world continue to be deficient. Living and working indoors and eating unhealthy diets have contributed to a global epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. People living with or at risk of developing diabetes may be worse off than most if they fail to get sufficient levels of vitamin D.
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The Relationship Between Vitamin D and Insulin
The level of vitamin D in your body can affect insulin sensitivity, and hence, glucose metabolism. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas, which regulates the levels of glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream. If the levels of insulin are too low, it can lead to serious health problems such as type 2 diabetes. The more common form of diabetes, type 2 is a condition in which people are actually resistant to their own insulin. People affected with type 2 diabetes usually have to get insulin from an external source, such as a medication, in order to maintain their blood sugar levels.
It turns out that there is a strong correlation between low vitamin D levels and significantly increased likelihood of developing pre-diabetes, diabetes or even metabolic syndrome. In a study involving 118 participants, those with low levels of vitamin D were more likely to have these conditions.
This raises the obvious question: If vitamin D deficiency is linked to an increased risk of developing diabetes, can getting more of this vitamin reduce the chances? One study from India suggests that may be the case.
Of the 170 participants with pre-diabetes who took part in the study, the researchers found that 125 of them were quite deficient in vitamin D (defined as a blood level of 30 nanograms per milliliter or less). The participants were divided into two groups, one of which received a calcium supplement, along with a mega dose of vitamin D – 60,000 international units (IU). The other group was given only the calcium supplement. Both groups were instructed to get 30 minutes of exercise daily, and to eat a “calorie-appropriate diet.”
The study found that the participants who received vitamin D experienced an 8 percent reduction in the risk of developing full blown diabetes for each unit increase in vitamin D they took in. Nearly twice as many participants in the group receiving vitamin D saw their blood sugar levels return to normal versus the control group.
The evidence is clear: increased vitamin D levels helps counteract insulin resistance and normalize blood sugar levels. This discovery will prove to be of potentially enormous benefit to people living with or at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
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How to Get More Vitamin D
The current recommended daily value of vitamin D by the Institute of Medicine is 600-800 IU. Considering how quickly your body can produce it from sunlight, as well as how beneficial high doses were in controlled studies, real health benefits occur at higher levels.
As mentioned above, the easiest way to get more vitamin D is to get more sun exposure. Contrary to what the skin care industry might tell you, going out in the sun without sunscreen will not immediately give you cancer. Obviously those with a fairer complexion should take more precautions, but the truth is that getting around 30 minutes of sun can produce 10,000 IU of vitamin D in your body.
Other sources of vitamin D are food or supplements. Many dairy products like milk, cheese, yogurt are fortified with vitamin D, and some include it naturally. Other sources include eggs and fatty fish.
Supplementation might be the easiest oral source of vitamin D. Remember that vitamin D is fat soluble, so if you use a supplement, take it with a meal that has plenty of fat in it. Supplements should be used responsibly; follow the directions, and do not attempt to replicate mega doses as in the Indian experiment mentioned here on your own. Everyone’s body is different, so speak to a doctor first about the proper level of vitamin D for your condition, especially if you have diabetes or prediabetes.