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Vitamin D Supplementation can Slow Progression of Early Diabetes
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Vitamin D Supplementation can Slow Progression of Early Diabetes

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Highlights:
  • High dose vitamin D supplementation can slow down the progression of prediabetes as well as newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes by improving glucose metabolism
  • Type 2 diabetes is widely prevalent globally and can lead to serious complications including nerve damage, heart and kidney disease and blindness if left untreated
  • Further research is needed to find if genetic or other medical factors could influence whether different people respond differently to vitamin D supplementation and to determine the safety of high dose vitamin D supplementation long term

High dose vitamin D supplementation can slow down the progression of prediabetes as well as newly diagnosed diabetes, reveals a recent study from Université Laval in Quebec. The findings of the study appear in the European Journal of Endocrinology.

Benefits of Vitamin D Supplementation in Early Diabetes Patients

Although low vitamin D levels have been linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, earlier studies have not found any improvement in metabolic function. Whether vitamin D supplementation is useful in patients with newly diagnosed diabetes or prediabetes, particularly in persons with low vitamin D levels still remains unclear.

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Vitamin D Supplementation can Slow Progression of Early Diabetes

The current study was undertaken by Dr Claudia Gagnon, and colleagues from Université Laval in Quebec to find the effect of vitamin D supplementation on glucose metabolism in persons with prediabetes or new diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
  • Markers of glucose metabolism and insulin activity were estimated at the start of the study and once again following high-dose vitamin D supplementation (approximately 5-10 times the standard dose) for six months
  • Study participants (46%) who were found to have low vitamin D levels at the beginning of the study, showed marked improvement in insulin in action on muscle tissue after six months of vitamin D supplementation
Thus, the findings of the study suggest that high dose vitamin D supplementation can retard progression of prediabetes and newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes by improving glucose metabolism.

Reasons Why Previous Studies Showed No Benefit with Vitamin D Supplementation

  • Previous studies may have included fewer participants or persons with normal vitamin D levels at the start of the study or the participants might have been suffering from long-standing diabetes
  • Metabolic improvement is difficult to measure in persons with long-standing disease or longer duration of vitamin D supplementation may be required to notice visible improvement
Dr. Gagnon said, "The reason we saw improvements in glucose metabolism following vitamin D supplementation in those at high risk of diabetes, or with newly diagnosed diabetes, while other studies failed to demonstrate an effect in people with long-standing type 2 diabetes is unclear. This could be due to the fact that improvements in metabolic function are harder to detect in those with a longer-term disease or that longer treatment time is needed to see the benefits."

Future Plans

  • Further research is needed to find if genetic or other medical factors could influence whether various people respond differently to vitamin D supplementation and whether improvement in glucose metabolism is sustained in the long term
  • More studies are also needed to validate the findings of the current study and find out the effect of long term high dose vitamin D supplementation
In summary, the current study finds that high dose vitamin D supplementation is beneficial in slowing down the progression of early diabetes, but the authors caution that until future studies evaluate the safety of long term high dose vitamin D supplementation, current guidelines of vitamin D supplementation should be followed.

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