An increase in vitamin D levels may reduce your risk of developing Type 1 diabetes

SAN DIEGO – A six-year study led by UC San Diego School of Medicine researchers found a correlation between vitamin D3 serum levels and the subsequent incidence of Type 1 diabetes, university officials announced on Nov. 15. 

The study used samples from millions of blood serum specimens frozen by the Department of Defense Serum Registry for disease surveillance, according to the university. Researchers thawed and analyzed 1,000 samples from healthy people who later developed Type 1 diabetes and 1,000 healthy control samples from blood drawn on or near the same date, but from those who did not develop the disease. 

By comparing the serum concentrations of the predominant circulating form of vitamin D – 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) – investigators were able to determine the optimal serum level needed to lower an individual’s risk for developing Type 1 diabetes, according to university officials. The results suggest a preventative role for vitamin D3. 

“Previous studies proposed the existence of an association between vitamin D deficiency and risk of and Type 1 diabetes, but this is the first time that the theory has been tested in a way that provides the dose-response relationship,” Dr. Cedric Garland of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine said. 

Garland suggested although there were a few conditions that influenced vitamin D metabolism, for most people, 4,000 IU per day of vitamin D3 would be needed to achieve the effective levels and urged those interested to ask their health care provider to measure their serum 25(OH)D before increasing vitamin D3 intake. 

Along with Garland, the study’s co-authors included Edward Gorham, Sharif Mohr and Dr. Heather Hofflich from UC San Diego School of Medicine and the Naval Health Research Center; Alina Burgi and Kenneth Zeng of the Naval Health Research Center; and Dr. Camillo Ricordi of the University of Miami Diabetes Research Institute. 

The research was supported by a congressional allocation to the Diabetes Research Institute of the University of Miami through the Naval Health Research Center, San Diego. It will appear in the December issue of Diabetologia. 

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