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Low Vitamin D Linked to Poor Diabetes Control

Study Finds Vitamin D Deficiency Common in People With Diabetes
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Low Vitamin D, Poor Diabetes Control: The Study continued...

Krug found racial differences. ''In people of color, vitamin D levels were even lower than in Caucasians and they were associated with even poorer diabetes control," she tells WebMD.

Only 6.4% were on vitamin D supplementation. This was true, Krug says, even though they had medical coverage and saw their doctors. She suspects a lack of awareness on the part of the physicians partly explains the frequent deficiencies she found.

Aggressive screening of vitamin D levels is crucial for people with diabetes, Krug says. Once a supplement is recommended, she says, the blood levels should be rechecked to see if the supplement sufficiently increases vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D Facts

Vitamin D is crucial not only to maintain bone strength, but research also suggests it plays a role in immune system functioning, cancer prevention, and cardiovascular health. It is produced when ultraviolet rays from the sun strike the skin and is also found in fish, eggs, fortified milk, cod liver oil, and supplements.

Adequate intakes, set by the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies, are 200 international units (IU) a day for adults up to age 50, 400 IU for people aged 51-70, and 600 IU for people 71 and older. But some experts say much more is needed; the recommendations are under review, with an update expected in 2010.

Second Opinion

The new study lends support to a growing body of scientific and clinical data linking vitamin D with insulin and glucose, says Ruchi Mathur, MD, an endocrinologist and assistant professor of medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, who reviewed the study for WebMD.

Other research has shown that supplementing with vitamin D and calcium slows the progression to type 2 diabetes, Mathur says. Even so, she tells WebMD, ''At present, a direct link between vitamin D and type 2 diabetes is not conclusively established."

She has another caveat. ''One important point that is missing ... is the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in the general population" compared to those in the study. As vitamin D deficiency is being noted with ''an alarming increase in frequency'' overall, she says, ''it may shed doubts on the authors' conclusions."

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