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Vitamin D Deficiency linked to Diabetes

Two papers presented in this year’s Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in San Diego, California showed that low levels of vitamin D could lead to inadequate blood sugar control in diabetics and increase the risk of developing metabolic syndrome in the elderly.

A study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore reviewed the medical charts of 124 type 2 diabetes patients who sought specialty care at an endocrine outpatient facility between 2003 and 2008. The study showed that more than 90 percent of the patients, aged 36 to 89, had either vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency despite routine primary care visits before their specialty visit.

The investigators further noted that only about 6 percent of the patients were taking a vitamin D supplement at the time of their visit, and those who had lower vitamin D levels were also more likely to have higher average blood sugar levels.

According to study co-author Dr. Esther Krug, this finding supports an active role of vitamin D in the development of type 2 diabetes.

“Since primary care providers diagnose and treat most patients with type 2 diabetes, screening and vitamin D supplementation as part of routine primary care may improve health outcomes of this highly prevalent condition,” said Dr. Krug.

A second study conducted by Dr. Marelise Eekhoff and her colleagues at the University Medical Center in Amsterdam, involving nearly 1,300 white Dutch men and women over the age of 65, found almost half were vitamin D-deficient, while 37 percent had metabolic syndrome. “Because he metabolic syndrome increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, an adequate vitamin D level in the body might be important in the prevention o these diseases,” stated Dr. Eekhoff.

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