The People's Perspective on Medicine

Diabetes Risk No Lower with Vitamin D Supplements

Taking vitamin D3 supplements daily did not reduce volunteers' diabetes risk over two and a half years. Perhaps diet and exercise work better.
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People with very low levels of vitamin D are known to be at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes. A study demonstrates that vitamin D supplements don’t alter diabetes risk (New England Journal of Medicine, online June 7, 2019).

The D2d Study:

The trial included 2,423 volunteers with prediabetes. Some had fasting blood sugar between 100 and 125 mg/dL. Others had glycated hemoglobin, HbA1C, between 5.7% and 6.4%. This is a marker of blood sugar over a period of several weeks. In addition, certain participants had blood sugar levels two hours after a 75-mg glucose load between 140 to 199 mg/dL. This put them at high diabetes risk, but they did not actually have diabetes.  During the two and a half years of the study, the participants took either 4,000 IU of vitamin D3 or a placebo daily.

Did D Supplements Lower Diabetes Risk?

When the investigators counted how many had developed diabetes during the trial, the differences between the groups were not significant. There were 293 in the vitamin D group and 323 in the placebo group. These findings confirm those from previous studies of vitamin D supplementation on the risk of diabetes.

Lifestyle to Lower Your Likelihood of Diabetes:

Increased exercise and changes in diet can reduce the chance of a diabetes diagnosis by more than 50 percent. For someone with prediabetes, that approach seems to hold the greatest promise. You may want to consider measuring your blood sugar to learn how your body reacts to different foods.

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    About the Author
    Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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    Managing Diabetes
    • Pittas AG et al, "Vitamin D supplementation and prevention of type 2 diabetes." New England Journal of Medicine, online June 7, 2019. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1900906
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    It would interesting to get the viewpoint or opinion of Michael F. Holick PhD MD at Boston University (the creator of the 25- Hydroxy Vitamin D blood marker test) as to why the trial did not show a difference. Among various possibilities is how well did they absorb it; were the participants overweight; what were the tested blood levels for Vitamin D before and after the daily intake of 4000 I.U.; in what form was the Vitamin D consumed; were there medications being taken that adversely affected absorption?
    My thoughts,
    PhD Health & Nutrition practitioner

    Maybe they should try sunshine. The sun is the natural way to get vitamin D, and the sun produces a different effect than supplements. The sun and supplements are NOT the same.

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