In February, a study suggested that vitamin D deficiency is linked more closely to diabetes than obesity. Researchers found a direct correlation between low vitamin D levels and glucose metabolism. In March, research in mice suggested the vitamin plays a major role in preventing the inflammation that leads to type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis.
“The finding that vitamin D helps regulate glucose metabolism may explain previous epidemiological studies identifying an increased risk of diabetes in patients with vitamin D deficiency,” senior investigator Carlos Bernal-Mizrachi, MD, associate professor of medicine and of cell biology and physiology said in a university release. “In our study, inactivation of the vitamin D receptor induced diabetes and atherosclerosis, so normalizing vitamin D levels may have the opposite effect.”
Inadequate vitamin D also turned immune cells into transporters of fat, according to Bernal-Mizrachi.
This may help researchers better understand how diabetes and atherosclerosis are linked and provide new possibilities for therapy.
The researchers are now conducting clinical studies in people who have type 2 diabetes, treating them with vitamin D to see whether it can prevent some of the complications of diabetes and inflammation in humans, as well as mice.