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Low Vitamin D Levels Associated with Diabetes

In February 2013, a prospective study reports that vitamin D deficiency is an independent risk factor for the development of impaired fasting glucose and diabetes. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reports that 35.3 percent (73.3 million) of American adults have either diabetes or impaired fasting glucose.

The researchers evaluated 117,960 adults between 40 and 70 years of age without diabetes, including 83,526 with normal blood sugar and 34,434 with impaired fasting glucose. The investigators measured serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and followed the subjects for up to two years to assess the development of impaired fasting glucose or diabetes.

During the follow-up period, 10.3 percent of the subjects with normal blood sugar at the beginning of the study developed impaired fasting glucose and 1.8 percent of the subjects developed diabetes. The investigators found an inverse relationship between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and progression to impaired fasting glucose and diabetes, meaning as vitamin D levels increased, the risk of progression to diabetes or impaired fasting glucose decreased.

More specifically, the risk of progression from normal blood sugar to impaired fasting glucose in the subjects with a serum vitamin D of 25 nmol/L or less was increased by 13 percent compared to the subjects with serum vitamin D of 75 nmol/L or greater.

Similarly, compared to the subjects with a serum vitamin D level of 75 nmol/L or greater, the subjects with a serum vitamin D of 25 nmol/L or less had a 77 percent increased risk in progression from normal blood sugar to diabetes. The risk of developing diabetes from impaired fasting blood glucose was increased by 43 percent in the subjects with serum vitamin D of 25 nmol/L or less compared to the subjects with serum vitamin D of 75 nmol/L or greater.

The investigators stated, “Vitamin D deficiency appears to be an independent risk factor for the development of impaired fasting glucose and diabetes.”

Reference:

Tsur A, et al. Diabetes Care. 2013 Feb 7. [Epub ahead of print.]

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