Vitamin D May Decrease Risk of Type 1 Diabetes.





Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Vitamin D Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1
Professional Data: Vitamin D Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1


Type 1 diabetes is a condition where the beta cells in the pancreas do not release insulin. This is called an absolute insulin deficiency. This means that the individual has hyperglycemia and begins to break down their fats and protein in order to meet the energy demands of the body. This breakdown of fats and protein makes the insulin dependent diabetic build up waste products called ketone bodies, which causes a condition called ketoacidosis. Insulin dependent diabetics need a constant supply of insulin to prevent ketoacidosis and maintain a stable blood sugar. Researchers are uncertain why this process happens though they speculate that some possible causes might be genetics, environment or perhaps viruses.

Type 1 diabetes accounts for 5 to 10% of all diabetic diagnoses1 and while it is most prevalent in children, it can occur at any age. Symptoms include weight loss, constant hunger, or extreme fatigue. Research into the origination and the search for a cure for type 1 diabetes is ongoing and new advances in understanding this disorder are constantly discovered.

In previous studies, vitamin D has been shown to reduce the risk of type 1 diabetes in animals. The authors of a study published in the November issue of the Lancet decided to examine the role of vitamin D supplementation versus deficiency in the risk of developing type 1 diabetes. The study ran from 1966 through 1997. A birth-cohort study was established, involving thousands of pregnant women who were due to give birth in 1966. Beginning in the first 1 year of life, the amount and frequency of vitamin D administered to the infants was recorded. Of the 10,366 children involved, 81 were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes during the study. The average age of diagnosis was 14 years. The children who regularly received a larger dose of vitamin D, decrease their risk by almost 80% and those who received smaller amounts showed a decreased risk as well. These findings indicate that low doses of vitamin D is associated with a higher risk of developing type 1 diabetes and that vitamin D supplementation is associated with a reduced risk. The authors concluded that "ensuring adequate vitamin D supplementation for infants could help to reverse the increasing trend in the incidence of type 1 diabetes."2


1. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institute of Health. Diabetes Overview. Jul 2001.
2. Hyppönen E, et al. Intake of vitamin D and risk of type 1 diabetes: a birth-cohort study. Lancet. Nov 2001; 358: 1500-03.