Researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will soon begin the first large-scale study to see if a Vitamin D supplement can prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes. The study will take place in 20 sites across the nation, including the Southwest American Indian Center for the Prevention of Diabetes in Phoenix. Recruitment is in the beginning stage.
In Arizona, one in nine people has diabetes, according to a fact sheet from the state's Diabetes Program. One-third are unaware of it. A 2011report on the burden of diabetes in Arizona says that with 600,000 adults with diabetes in the state, we are #10 in the nation. Using 2007 data, the report says that comparable economic costs in the state reach $3.3 billion--$2.3 billion in medical bills and another $1 billion in indirect costs such as lost wages and productivity.
In addition, Type 2 diabetes is at an "epidemic" level among Native Americans, according to the Indian Health Service (IHS), which operates a Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention. IHS is also investigating approaches to prevent diabetes in at-risk individuals, and to prevent cardiovascular disease in people already diagnosed with it. Native American youth ages 10-19 are nine times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than non-Hispanic whites. More statistics on diabetes among Native Americans can be found on this IHS fact sheet.
With all the sunshine we have here in Arizona, you would think we get enough Vitamin D. Apparently, many of us don't! With all the publicity on skin cancer prevention, it appears that we have literally blocked out the sun to the point that many of us are depriving ourselves out of a natural source of Vitamin D, which is also essential to bone health.
The study, nicknamed "D2d," comes under the authority of NIH's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). The general aim is to better understand how vitamin D affects glucose (sugar) metabolism. Other reasons include:
- Past studies suggest that higher levels of Vitamin D prevents Type 2 diabetes. D2d will specifically examine this.
- There has been a sharp increase in Vitamin D supplement use in the US.
- Diabetes rates are high. NIDDK says 26 million Americans have diabetes and nearly 80 million could be classified as at-risk, or prediabetic.
D2d will recruit 2,500 people with diabetes for the study. Half will receive a daily dose of 4,000 International Units (IUs) of Vitamin D3. The other half will receive placebos. Neither the participants nor the researchers will know who is receiving Vitamin D or a placebo.
Researchers think the Vitamin D group will see a 25% reduction in diabetes. They will also look for impacts based on age, gender, and race.
A short online screen for eligibility in the program can be found on the Southwest American Indian Center webpage.