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Deficient in vitamin D? You are more likely to get diabetes

Published on:28 November 2020, 16:01pm IST
Vitamin D is considered critical for the healthy functioning of the body, and keeps several illnesses at bay, including type 2 diabetes.
Geetika Sachdev
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Vitamin D and diabetes are linked. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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There have been several conversations around the importance of vitamin D in the last few years. These conversations have become intensified since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic due to the social distancing aspect which keeps us away from going outdoors.

Termed as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, the 3 sources from which you can obtain it are the sun, certain foods and supplements. For the unaware, vitamin D is fat-soluble and not water-soluble. This means when you get it through your diet, your body can best consume it along with fat-rich foods like almonds, peanut butter or avocado. 

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How does vitamin D help your body?

Vitamin D is critical for good health. After all, research suggests that you need it for practically all your body functions. From aiding improved stamina, bone health and muscle strength, it also performs a preventive function when it comes to type 2 diabetes.

Vitamin D is believed to help lower your bad cholesterol levels, as validated by a review published in June 2018 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This is important because those who suffer from diabetes are more prone to heart problems. Research suggests that diabetics are two times more likely to die from heart disease, and that’s as alarming as it sounds.

Most of us are aware that calcium deficiency can cause weak bones. Turns out, you need the sunshine vitamin just as must as you need calcium for strong bones. “Vitamin D aids the absorption of calcium in the body to promote bone growth,” notes Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of The 2-Day Diabetes Diet: Just 2 Days a Week and Dodge Type 2 Diabetes.

foods to boost immunity
The relationship between vitamin D and diabetes is quite surprising. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
The link between vitamin D and diabetes

Vitamin D and type 2 diabetes are interconnected. “Studies have found that people who have insulin resistance and a low level of vitamin D may have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes,” said Vandana R. Sheth, RDN, CDCES, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, to a global publication.

Also, read: Did you know a vitamin D deficiency could be the reason behind your belly fat?

Those who have diabetes might be at risk of developing lower levels of vitamin D because sometimes the cells of the pancreas do not function the way they must, and in turn, struggle to produce sufficient insulin.

A randomized controlled trial published in September 2019 in the European Journal of Endocrinology found that vitamin D supplementation for six months improved insulin sensitivity and production in 96 participants who were at high risk of, or newly diagnosed with, type 2 diabetes.

Another review published in September 2019 in the journal Current Diabetes Reports shows that getting enough vitamin D can help reduce insulin resistance. 

So, how does one get enough vitamin D? 

Although the best way to get vitamin D is through sunlight, sometimes it is tough for people to get their daily dose, especially during the ongoing pandemic. Another downside is that you need to be out at certain hours to soak in the sunlight at least twice a week, anywhere between 5 to 30 minutes. Our busy schedules might not always allow this.

vitamin D covid-19
It’s time to understand the importance of the sunshine vitamin in your life. Image courtesy: Shutterstock


So, a good method to get a healthy amount of vitamin D is to eat foods that can meet your needs. Sources of vitamin D include:

  • Fatty fish like salmon and tuna
  • Fortified foods like milk, yoghurt, orange juice, cereals and bread
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Mushrooms

In case your vitamin D levels are very low, your doctor will suggest a supplement. The daily vitamin D intake goal for adults is 600 IU. Those who are above 70 years of age need 800 IU, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). People with diabetes are no exception.

There are two kinds of vitamin D: vitamin D2 and D3. The former is found in plants and fortified foods, while vitamin D3 comes from animal sources and is produced naturally in the body when your skin is exposed to sunlight. 

So, ladies, make sure you get enough vitamin D to keep diabetes away from your life! 

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Geetika Sachdev Geetika Sachdev

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you'll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town.