A new study has found that people with low levels of vitamin D are more likely to have diabetes, irrespective of their body weight.
Vitamin D helps the body in the absorption of calcium and maintains bone and muscle health. The skin produces this vitamin naturally after exposure to sunlight. People also absorb smaller amounts of vitamin D through foods, such as milk fortified with vitamin D. More than 1 billion people worldwide are estimated to have deficient levels of vitamin D due to limited exposure to sun.
Study author Mercedes Clemente-Postigo said, "The major strength of this study is that it compares vitamin D levels in people at a wide range of weights (from lean to morbidly obese subjects) while taking whether they had diabetes into account." Researchers studied about 150 people, who were classified by their body-mass index (BMI) as well as whether they had diabetes, prediabetes or no glycemic disorders. They measured levels of vitamin D in the participants' blood streams and vitamin D receptor gene expression in adipose tissue.
The study revealed that obese subjects who did not have glucose metabolism disorders had higher levels of vitamin D than diabetic subjects. Also, lean subjects with diabetes or another glucose metabolism disorder were more likely to have low levels of vitamin D. Researchers found that vitamin D levels were directly correlated with glucose levels, but not with BMI.
Study author Manuel Macas-Gonzlez said, "Our findings indicate that vitamin D is associated more closely with glucose metabolism than obesity. The study suggests that vitamin D deficiency and obesity interact synergistically to heighten the risk of diabetes and other metabolic disorders. The average person may be able to reduce their risk by maintaining a healthy diet and getting enough outdoor activity."
The study is published in the Endocrine Society's 'Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism'.