Calcium, Vitamin D, and Diabetes.




Diabetes Care

Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Calcium Vitamin D Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2
Professional Data: Calcium Vitamin D Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2


Diabetes mellitus is a chronic condition where there is less insulin than what the body needs. This can be low insulin, a problem with the release of insulin, insulin that cannot work in the cells that need it, or insulin that is inactivated before it is able to function. Diabetes mellitus is a disease in which the body does not produce or does not use insulin effectively. It is not simply hyperglycemia, or too much glucose (sugar) in the blood.

Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas by the beta cells in the Islets of Langerhans. The release of insulin by these special cells is regulated by the amount of glucose in the blood. It is responsible for transporting glucose (from carbohydrates) into the cells for energy production. After a meal, when blood sugar increases, insulin release increases. Between meals, when blood sugar is low, insulin release is low. Insulin is released from the pancreas directly into the liver where some is used and some is broken down and eliminated from the body. The rest is released into the general blood circulation. By helping to move glucose into the cells, insulin decreases blood sugar. Insulin also decreases the breakdown of stored fat and builds triglycerides. Insulin is involved in the production of protein.

A recent study published in the journal Diabetes Care examined the association between calcium, vitamin D, and diabetes. Using data from the Nurses’ Health Study, over 83,000 healthy women were studied. These women were free from diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer at the beginning of the trial. Dietary and supplemental vitamin D and calcium intakes were recorded every 2 to 4 years. After follow-up of 20 years, there were 4,843 type 2 diabetics. The results showed there was a correlation between a higher intake of vitamin D and calcium supplements and a lower risk of diabetes. This association was seen with dietary calcium, but not vitamin D. The authors concluded that, “results of this large prospective study suggest a potential beneficial role for both vitamin D and calcium intake in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.”1


1. Pittas AG, et al. Vitamin D and calcium intake in relation to type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. March 2006;29:650-6.