The review of clinical trials found that higher vitamin D intake via supplementation – the preferred method of vitamin D intake is natural sunlight exposure, by the way – is associated with a 15 percent decrease in the likelihood of Type-2 diabetes in adults with prediabetes.
Published on February 7, the study is based on a systematic review and meta-analysis of three clinical trials comparing vitamin D levels to diabetes risk. Among those studied, 22.7 percent of prediabetic adults who received vitamin D went on after three years to develop diabetes – this compared to 25 percent of those who received a placebo.
This translates to a 15 percent relative reduction in diabetes risk for those who take vitamin D or go out in the sun more. The more than 374 million adults worldwide who suffer from prediabetes can thus better protect themselves simply by intaking more of this powerful, health-promoting pre-hormone.
(Related: Check out this Vitamin D Guide infographic to learn more about the many health benefits of vitamin D.)
It is important to remember that high-dose vitamin D supplementation comes with risks if done incorrectly. Certain co-factors such as vitamin K and magnesium help the body to better synthesize vitamin D at therapeutic doses, which is an important consideration in this context.
Since vitamin D is known to encourage the pancreas to make more insulin, it obviously makes sense for prediabetic and diabetic people to make sure that their levels are optimal – this can be done with the help of a qualified medical professional.
Vitamin D supplements are better than nothing, but natural sunlight is still the best way to intake vitamin D at therapeutic levels while avoiding the potential risks of taking too much of it in supplement form, and possibly developing kidney stones or other health problems.
For the study, patients were given the equivalent of 70 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D per day, which is seven times higher than the government-recommended dosage of 10 mcg per day in the United Kingdom and 15 mcg in the United States.
"Higher levels of vitamin D boost calcium absorption from the gut, which can lead to kidney stones and kidney damage due to dehydration," warns one source.
The risks of this are minimal, it is important to note. None of the trial participants developed kidney stones or any other health problems in conjunction with vitamin D supplementation – they only saw benefits, it turns out.
Still, it is critical to supplement with vitamin D properly – or if you choose the sunlight route to prime your skin by supplementing with astaxanthin, a natural "sunscreen" nutrient, while avoiding the use of toxic sunscreen products that block the ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun that trigger the body's natural production of vitamin D.
"All medical interventions carry some risk," says Malachi McKenna from University College Dublin in Ireland, who wrote an editorial accompanying the new study.
The Vitamin D Council has made available lots of helpful information about how to safely and effectively benefit from vitamin D in whatever form of it you prefer.
"Vitamin D is important for maintaining strong bones and teeth, as well as supporting the immune system, cardiovascular system, and brain function," the group says.
"The council suggests that people who are at risk of vitamin D deficiency, such as those who are older, have dark skin, or are obese, may need higher doses of vitamin D to maintain optimal health."
The latest news about the health benefits of vitamin D can be found at VitaminD.news.
Sources for this article include: