Diabetes in the dark

Looks like vitamin D is making headlines again. And in these darkest days of the year, I can’t think of a better time to share the latest news about the sunshine vitamin.

According to a recent study, D deficiency is linked to impaired insulin action–a major discovery in the fight against diabetes.

In this study, subjects with type 2 diabetes supplemented with 2,000 IU of oral vitamin D3 daily for 18 months.

After this treatment period, researchers noted significant improvements in the subjects’ lipid profile. (Namely, favorable changes in ratios of “good” to “bad” cholesterol.) There was also a notable improvement in pancreatic beta cell function–that is, the cells that secrete insulin.

These results were particularly pronounced among the diabetic women, which the scientists believe relates to differences in hormone profiles and fat distribution.

Of course, the most fascinating part of this research for me is that we are finally starting to explore how vitamin D actually works. Results suggest that it may actually promote HDL formation, lower blood pressure, and increase insulin sensitivity.

But regardless of the mechanism, the takeaway here is obvious: Dealing with vitamin D deficiency may turn out to be a vital cardioprotective intervention.

And since most of us are D deficient, recommending regular D3 supplementation for everyone (which, for the record, I do) could have a wide-reaching impact.

This is especially true when you consider how low the dosage used here was–only 2,000 IU, which is my minimum recommendation. (But still five times the current–and laughably low–RDA of 400 IU.)

Clearly, vitamin D isn’t just for people with brittle bones. And it’s about time conventional medicine started recognizing that fact.

Personally, I knew vitamin D was capable of many things–boosting immunity and protecting against cancer, to name a couple. But even I had no idea that it affected insulin activity.

Hand in hand with blood sugar, keeping insulin levels in check is crucial to good health. And luckily, this hormone is easily controlled through proper diet (like my New Hamptons Health Miracle), supplementation, and of course, our good friend exercise.

Unfortunately, hundreds of millions of Americans will not get the message until it’s too late. And with vitamin D deficiency reaching epidemic levels in this country, the need for awareness is higher than ever.

So do yourself a favor and don’t forget to take your D3–at least 2,000 IU every day, throughout the winter season and beyond. Because it’s not just your pancreas that stands to benefit from this strategy…

“Vitamin D supplementation as an adjuvant therapy for patients with T2DM: an 18-month prospective interventional study.” Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2012 Jul 18;11(1):85. doi: 10.1186/1475-2840-11-85.