While most adults worry about Type 2 diabetes, where the body stops being able to use insulin, some adults do develop Type 1, or juvenile, diabetes., where the pancreas stops producing insulin. A study published by the Harvard School of Public Health maintains that adequate levels of vitamin D can reduce the risk of developing Type 1 diabetes as an adult by 50%
The study used blood samples from the Department of Defense Serum Repository, which contains more than 40 million samples collected from 8 million military personnel since the mid-1980s. They identified 310 adults diagnosed with type 1 diabetes between 1997 and 2009, as well as 613 people who did not develop diabetes as a control group. They then went back to the Serum Repository, and examined the blood samples of the individuals in each group for vitamin D levels.
The researchers found that those subjects with the highest levels of vitamin D had less than half the risk of developing Type 1 diabetes than those with the lowest. The study did not recommend a dosage level of vitamin D, but did speculate that the current level that people are getting from food and sun exposure may be too low.
“The risk of type 1 diabetes appears to be increased even at vitamin D levels that are commonly regarded as normal, suggesting that a substantial proportion of the population could benefit from increased vitamin D intake,” said Alberto Ascherio, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at HSPH, the study’s senior author.