Vitamin D can improve heart health in people with type 2 diabetes

Diabetic? Get more vitamin D
I know I discuss vitamin D a lot. But really, you just can’t get away from it.

There’s an overwhelming amount of research out there now–all of it showing just how much good the sunshine vitamin can do for you. And the latest addition to this body of evidence is no exception.

A recent study showed that taking 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily for one year can significantly improve heart health in people with type 2 diabetes.

Being familiar with my recommendations, you might already recognize this as a pretty low dose. But the study was performed in Tel Aviv, which gets a lot more sun exposure than most parts of the United States. As a result, this population needs to rely on D supplements a lot less.

Still, since diabetics everywhere tend to have lower levels of D and higher risk of heart disease, this is a pretty major finding all the same.

But it’s not the first of its kind. Just last year, a different study revealed that people with metabolic syndrome are less likely to die of heart disease if they also have optimal levels of vitamin D.

These results appeared in the journal Diabetes Care. And they linked D levels of 75 nmol/L and higher to a 66 percent lower risk of heart disease death. (That’s compared to people with a severe vitamin D deficiency.)

This little detail is important to remember when you’re getting your levels of D tested. In all likelihood, your doctor will look at the reference range from the lab and think your vitamin D level is adequate, just because it falls above 30.

But there are adequate levels and there are optimal levels. I always shoot for optimal. And as the available research demonstrates, you should too.

Before I move on, though, I’d like to include an interesting side note to this newest study.

Researchers also noted increases in levels of adiponectin over the 12 months of vitamin D supplementation. But they didn’t observe these changes in the placebo group.

If you subscribe to my monthly newsletter, you might already understand the significance of this finding. I’ve discussed the importance of adiponectin in detail on a couple of occasions in past issues.

Adiponectin is a hormone that originates in your fatty tissue. It plays a vital role in regulating insulin function and inflammation.

A lean body ensures an abundance of adiponectin. This maximizes your muscles’ ability to convert carbs into energy, increases metabolism and fat burning, and takes the edge off of your appetite.

But as your weight climbs, adiponectin release dips. And this, in turn, contributes to the higher risk of insulin resistance, diabetes, and heart disease that accompanies obesity.

So what does that mean? Well, this additional finding suggests that vitamin D’s ability to influence adiponectin levels may be the key to its cardiovascular benefits–and to its established role in weight management, too.

There are just so many things we don’t know yet. Only time–and more research–will tell.

But now that nutrition is being taken seriously in the scientific community? Hang on to your hats, everyone… because the future’s looking bright.

“Effect of high doses of vitamin D on arterial properties, adiponectin, leptin and glucose homeostasis in type 2 diabetic patients.” Clin Nutr. 2013 Feb 27. pii: S0261-5614(13)00047-2. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2013.01.020. [Epub ahead of print]