Summary of Findings
- The incidence of diabetes increases the further from the equator one lives which correlates with lower vitamin D levels (102)
- Infants given vitamin D supplements for the first year of life demonstrated an 80% reduction in the occurrence of diabetes later in life (103)
- Also children who were found to have rickets and were vitamin D deficient had a four -fold increased risk of developing diabetes later in life. (103)
- Diabetic patients who receive vitamin D supplements demonstrate slower progression of their disease. (104,105)
Type I Diabetes and Vitamin D3
There is much data to suggest that vitamin D levels during pregnancy and early life are of major importance in protecting against the development of Type 1 diabetes later in life.
As with so many other conditions being born in Northern regions is associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes later in life, although some of the data is inconsistent with this hypothesis. (102)
Unlike in some other conditions, very convincing clinical trial data has been generated showing that vitamin D supplementation in early life prevents the later development of diabetes.
In 2001 a study was published in the Lancet that demonstrated that children supplemented with vitamin D during their first year of life had an 80% reduction in their risk of developing diabetes later in life.
A subgroup of children who had received 2000IU consistently during the study period showed a further 80% reduction compared to children receiving lower doses. Also children who were found to have rickets and were vitamin D deficient had a four-fold increased risk of developing diabetes later in life.(103) This study was conducted in Finland where children were supplemented with up to 2000IU per day.
In 1956 a supplementation recommendation of 4-5000IU per day was started. Ironically this supplementation program was reduced to 2000IU in 1964, 1000IU in 1975 and further reduced to 400IU in 1992. The incidence of type 1 diabetes in Finalnd is now increasing.
Such a switch on-switch off effect of vitamin D supplementation produces very strong evidence of a cause-effect relationship between vitamin D deficiency and type 1diabetes.
Two additional small trials have shown suggested that the progression of type 1 diabetes can be slowed down by vitamin D supplementation. (104,105)
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