Importance Of Vitamin D For Diabetics
Category : Importance Of Vitamin D For Diabetics
Vitamin D is an important chemical in the body that helps transport calcium from digested food in the stomach to the blood stream, so it can keep bones strong.
There are two ways the body gets vitamin D,exposure to UV radiation and ingesting foods or supplements that contain vitamin D.
Studies have shown that people who have the lowest vitamin D levels in their blood are at an increased risk of developing diabetes.
The challenge for health care providers and nutrition researchers is to determine whether vitamin D deficiency actually causes or increases the incidence of certain diseases or whether, instead, low levels of vitamin D are simply coincidental given that the majority of the general population, regardless of disease, is likely to have insufficient levels of vitamin D.
In other words, do people who develop diabetes just happen to be deficient in vitamin D, or do low levels of vitamin D cause the disease?
Will supplementation with vitamin D prevent diseases, and can it be used to treat diseases such as diabetes?
In the past, the major source of vitamin D for humans was exposure to sunlight. One possible cause of the current widespread vitamin D deficiency is the lack of sunlight exposure. Another possible cause is a lack of dietary sources of vitamin D.
Since the industrial revolution, very few people get much sun exposure while working.
Other barriers to sunshine exposure include fear of skin cancer, which has led to an increased use of sunscreen, hats, and other sun barriers.
For some people, religious beliefs require that their skin be covered.
Environmental factors such as pollution and fewer hours of sun exposure during the winter also decrease vitamin D synthesis from sunlight exposure.
Additionally, aging skin and skin of darker color require longer exposure to sunlight to initiate vitamin D synthesis.
There is growing evidence that vitamin D deficiency could be a contributing factor in the development of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
Evidence indicates that vitamin D treatment improves glucose tolerance and insulin resistance.
Vitamin D deficiency leads to reduced insulin secretion.
Supplementation with vitamin D has been shown to restore insulin secretion in animals.
Furthermore, vitamin D plays an important part in the regulation of calcium.
Calcium helps to control the release of insulin, so alterations in calcium can have a negative effect on beta cell function, which may hinder normal insulin release.
Some scientists and doctors believe that if vitamin D helps proper insulin function, some of its effects might be because of calcium.
Importance of Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium is the most common mineral found in our bones and helps to give them strength and rigidity. Calcium is also particularly important at the time of menopause, because calcium absorption slows down, due to low levels of oestrogen.
A deficiency in Calcium can cause bones to become brittle on the inside and therefore they break very easily. On the outside a person looks perfectly fine. Every cell in our body, including those in the heart, nerves and muscles rely on calcium. Calcium is also necessary for your body to form blood clots.
Who is at risk of low vitamin D levels?
1. Babies who are just fed breast milk, consume little vitamin D3, especially if the mother is vitamin D3 deficient.
2. Senior citizen’s: Their ability to produce vitamin D3 in their skin from the sun, is reduced with age and they are less able to convert it into the Vitamin D hormone that the body needs.
3.Those who continuously wear sun block, moisturisers or make up that have sun block in them.
4.People who are obese as body fat has a tendency to hold onto vitamin D, so reducing its overall availability to the rest of the body.
5.Those with darker skin (e.g. Africans) do not absorb vitamin D3 from the sun, as easily as lighter skinned people.
6.Those who have: gastrointestinal disorders such as Coeliac Disease (Gluten/wheat sensitivity); Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis; or Primary Biliary cirrhosis and Type1 and Type 2 diabetics.
7. Those, who do not get the recommended daily amounts of Vitamin D3 from the sun or through food sources.
Vitamin D Requirements and Dietary Sources
Vitamin D is both a nutrient we eat and a hormone our bodies make. Few, so the biggest dietary sources of vitamin D are fortified foods and .
Good sources include dairy products and breakfast cereals (both of which are fortified with vitamin D), and fatty fish such as salmon and tuna.
For most people, the best way to get enough vitamin D is taking a supplement, but the level in most multivitamins (400 IU) is too low.
Vitamin D and Immune Function
Scientists have found that vitamin D is crucial to activating our immune defenses and that without sufficient intake of the vitamin – the killer cells of the immune system — T cells — will not be able to react to and fight off serious infections in the body.
The role of vitamin D in immune system health is not relegated only to T cell activity. Other aspects of immunity might also be affected by vitamin D status.
According to the Linus Pauling Institute, most cells of the immune system, including macrophages and dendritic cells, have a vitamin D receptor on their surface, indicating that these cells also respond to vitamin D.
Under some conditions, macrophages produce their own vitamin D.
In addition, a study published in the June 2011 issue of “Infection and Immunity” found that treating gum cells from the human mouth with vitamin D caused them to produce an antibacterial protein that kills the bacteria that causes tooth decay.
Vitamin D has been used (unknowingly) to treat infections such as tuberculosis before the advent of effective antibiotics.
Tuberculosis patients were sent to sanatoriums where treatment included exposure to sunlight which was thought to directly kill the tuberculosis.
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Cod liver oil, a rich source of vitamin D has also been employed as a treatment for tuberculosis as well as for general increased protection from infections.
There is increasing evidence linking vitamin D deficiency and autoimmune diseases including multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), diabetes mellitus (DM), inflammatory bowel disease and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
You may find it surprising that vitamin D is so important for your health, especially if you’re still under the impression that it’s mostly a nutrient for your bones.
Most people also think that vitamin D is really a vitamin, but in reality, the active form of vitamin D is one of the most potent hormones in your body, and regulates more genes and bodily functions than any other hormone yet discovered.
Vitamin D is produced as a pro-hormone in your skin after sunlight exposure, and is then converted to the potent hormone form.
Without this hormone, you could die, and indeed, many do die from vitamin D deficiency-related causes.
Vitamin D has a remarkable role to play in your health, influencing nearly 3,000 of your 25,000 genes, and playing a critical role in your immune response — a role far superior to the synthetic (and often harmful) immune responses that vaccines elicit.
Vitamin D could rightly be described as a “miracle nutrient” for your immune system, as it enables your body to produce well over 200 antimicrobial peptides, which are indispensable in fighting off a wide range of infections.
A Japanese study showed that school children taking vitamin D3 supplements were 58 percent less likely to catch influenza A.
That’s a higher effectiveness than any flu vaccine can claim, and doesn’t come with a barrage of potentially devastating side effects!
And there are numerous studies like these, showing the superior effectiveness of natural strategies like vitamin D in the prevention of disease.
Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Vitamin D
The only way to know for sure if you’re vitamin D deficient is via blood testing. However, there are some signs and symptoms to be aware of as well.
Testing For Vitamin D
Having blood tests to measure the amount of vitamin D in your blood is the only way to know if you’re getting enough vitamin D or not. The blood test you need is called a 25(OH)D blood test.
You can get a blood test at your doctors or you can do an in-home test or get a test at a laboratory. All of these methods of testing should give you accurate results.
Prevention Of Vitamin D Deficiency
1. Sun exposure
Sun exposure is the best natural source of vitamin D. When ultra violet (UV) radiation touches the skin vitamin D is made. However, a number of things affect this process including age, skin type, where you are in the world and the time of year.
During the summer months spending a few minutes in the sun is the best way for your body to produce vitamin D. It is unlikely that your skin will make vitamin D in the winter months. But, the body can store enough to last between 30 – 60 days.
Because UV exposure is also linked to skin cancer getting a balance between safe sun exposure and vitamin D production is important.
You don’t need to spend hours in the sun to produce enough vitamin D. Extra time outdoors doesn’t equal more vitamin D, but it does increase skin cancer risk.
The World Health Organisation advice is to get 5 to 15 minutes of casual sun exposure to hands, face and arms two to three times a week during the summer months.
In this way sun exposure as you go about your daily life really makes a difference.
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IMPORTANT POINTS TO REMEMBER
A.Never let your skin redden or burn to get vitamin D
B.Take extra care if you have fair skin because you are more at risk of sunburn
C.Never use a sunbed to increase your vitamin D levels
D.It is important to protect your skin to reduce skin cancer risk.
2. Eating a healthy balanced diet
Choosing foods that contain vitamin D is an important part of maintaining a healthy vitamin D level. The best foods to help with this are:
Cod liver oil
Oily fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel and fresh tuna
Other foods with small amounts of vitamin D include:
Breakfast cereals that have added vitamin D – look at the ingredients to check the level
Milk with added vitamin D
Margarines and butter
3. Taking a daily vitamin D supplement
Taking a daily vitamin D supplement is another way to meet your vitamin D needs.
However, it is always a good idea to talk to your doctor before taking a supplement.
It is also recommended that all babies from birth to 12 months are given a vitamin D supplement.
To find out more about this speak with your doctor.
With sun exposure and eating a healthy diet you can get much of the vitamin D your body needs. But, make sure that you do not increase your risk of skin cancer through over exposure to UV radiation.
If you don’t know your vitamin D levels, or you have never had your vitamin D levels tested, I urge you to consider doing so very soon, as simply assuming your levels are in the healthy range is quite risky.
Vitamin D deficiency is at epidemic proportions in many regions around the world today, largely because people do not spend enough time in the sun to facilitate this important process of vitamin D production.
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