Science Update

New study demonstrates the effect of vitamin D supplementation on insulin sensitivity and secretion

Type II diabetes affects more than 30 million individuals, with the youth accounting for 20% to 50% of new onset diabetes cases.

Previous research has demonstrated low levels of vitamin D associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes; however, some studies have shown no effect on metabolic function. These studies were limited in scope, as some had few participants while others included individuals with normal levels of vitamin D or had a long-standing disease.

According to a new study published in July, researchers demonstrated that vitamin D supplementation may help slow the progression of diabetes by increasing peripheral insulin sensitivity and β-cell function in newly diagnosed diabetes patients.

This randomized, placebo controlled trial included individuals at high risk of type II diabetes or newly diagnosed with diabetes. Vitamin D supplementation was given at 5,000 IU daily for six months. Markers of insulin function and glucose metabolism, including an oral glucose tolerance test, HbA1c, and anthropometry, were taking at baseline and at six months.

Although only 46% of the individuals had low vitamin D levels at the beginning of the study, vitamin D supplementation significantly improved the action of insulin in muscle tissue of participants after six months.

While this study demonstrates the benefits of vitamin D supplementation, it is essential to combine vitamin D with vitamin K in order to optimize the level of each vitamin and prevent against arterial calcification. Also, it is important to maintain optimal levels of all the fat soluble vitamins, as more and more research demonstrates their intricate interrelationships with other nutrients. There is no evidence for an ideal ratio between D and K1 or K2; however, we need to optimize each vitamin. It is also important to note there is no toxicity of vitamin K.

All chronic conditions are multifactorial and vitamin D is often just a small part of the picture. It is important to look deeper and address other common deficiencies such as magnesium, vitamin C, glycine, and essential fatty acids. Other nutrients that can help therapeutically include inositol and tocotrienols. Many of these nutrients play a synergist role with one another and it is important to have adequate levels for optimal function.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Lemieux P, Weisnagel JS, et al. Effects of 6-month vitamin D supplementation on insulin sensitivity and secretion: a randomized, placebo controlled trial.