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Taking extra vitamin D may slow down type 2 diabetes in people who have been newly diagnosed with the disease or who have prediabetes. This is the finding of a study supported by Diabetes Canada and published by the European Society of Endocrinology in September 2019.

The research team at Université Laval in Quebec divided 96 people who were at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes or who had recently been diagnosed with the disease into two groups. Half of the group received 5,000 IU of vitamin D daily (about five to 10 times the usual recommended amount), while the other half received a placebo.

After six months, the people who took the high-dose vitamin D showed an improvement in the action of insulin in their muscle tissue.

This improved insulin sensitivity means that their bodies were better able to use, or metabolize, sugar (glucose), which could slow down the progress of the disease.

Dr. Claudia Gagnon, an assistant professor with Université Laval’s Faculty of Medicine, says it is unclear why her team saw these improvements in people who took high-dose vitamin D when previous studies have not shown this effect. “This could be due to the fact that improvements in metabolic function are harder to detect in those with longer-term disease or that a longer treatment time [with vitamin D] is needed to see the benefits,” she says.

Gagnon adds that further studies are needed to see whether some people may benefit more from vitamin D supplements than other people, and to test the safety of taking high doses of the vitamin over the long term. In the meantime, she suggests everyone follow current vitamin D supplementation recommendations.

(This article appeared in Diabetes Dialogue, Spring 2020)

Photo by Michele Blackwell on Unsplash


Author: Elizabeth McCammon

Category Tags: Research;

Region: National

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