By: Brenda Neugent
The National Institutes of Health is investing millions of dollars in new research to determine if vitamin D supplements play a role in preventing type 2 diabetes.
More than 20 health centers across the United States will participate in the study, which will include 2,500 volunteers with pre-diabetes, or blood glucose levels that are higher than normal.
“This study aims to definitively answer the question: Can vitamin D reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes?” Dr. Myrlene Staten of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases said in an interview with Medical Daily.
Through a series of clinical trials – in which half of the participants will receive a daily dose of vitamin D while the other half receives a placebo – the study aims to identify the qualities of vitamin D that could prevent or delay the onset of diabetes.
Previous studies have suggested that vitamin D could be one vitamin supplement you want in your arsenal to help keep diabetes at bay.
Research conducted by the Naval Health Research Center and the University of California San Diego and released in 2012 found that those with lower levels of vitamin D were at a higher of developing insulin-dependent diabetes than those with higher levels.
A study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston echoed those results, based on pooled data from 21 different studies with more than 75,000 participants. Researchers also found that those who had higher levels of vitamin D in their blood were less likely to have type 2 diabetes.
“Vitamin D use has risen sharply in the U.S. in the last 15 years, since it has been suggested as a remedy for a variety of conditions, including prevention of type 2 diabetes,” Staten said. “But we need rigorous testing to determine if vitamin D will help prevent diabetes. That’s what [this study] will do.”
While vitamin D is found in a few foods – fatty fish such as tuna, salmon and mackerel, as well as fish liver oil, beef liver, cheese and egg yolks – it is most often acquired through exposure to the sun. It is also available through fortified foods like milk and orange juice or through supplements.