Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a variety of roles in our bodies from boosting our immune system, helps control blood sugar, and keeps our bones and muscles healthy. Vitamin D is different from other vitamins because most foods are a poor source of vitamin D. The main source of vitamin D for our bodies is the sun, as our skin can make most of the vitamin D it needs. But, since many people spend so much time indoors these days, vitamin D deficiency is growing. This may mean trouble for diabetics as vitamin D deficiency has been linked to insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes.
Insulin resistance is when the body’s cells stop responding to the action of insulin, a signaling hormone that tells the cells when glucose is available. Researchers from Tufts University conducted an extensive review in 2007 of all the published studies related to vitamin D and the development of Type 2 Diabetes. Most studies show a consistent connection between vitamin D deficiency and the occurrence of Type 2 Diabetes.
Combined with calcium, vitamin D may actually play a role in preventing diabetes and improving insulin sensitivity. Getting vitamin D levels checked and improved if needed may be an important step in the prevention of diabetes. What if you already have diabetes? Data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination survey found that vitamin D levels were lower in diabetics and those who were more at risk for cardiovascular and kidney disease.
Here are a couple things to do if you are concerned about your vitamin D levels:
- Check your levels – The Vitamin D Council recommends a serum vitamin D level of at least 50 ng/mL. If your levels are too low, a doctor may prescribe a high dose prescription vitamin D. Or you may want to take a supplement of at least 1000 IU.
- Get outside! – Just 10-15 minutes of direct sunlight can give you all the vitamin D you need. Being out in the sun to get your vitamin D, also gives you a great excuse to exercise, which will definitely improve your blood sugar.