Vitamin D Lowers Risk of Type 1 Diabetes

FROM: www.Dr.

Infants who receive the recommended daily dose of vitamin D may have a lower risk of developing type 1 diabetes.

Babies who received at least 2,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily were nearly 80% less likely to develop type 1 diabetes over the next three decades compared with infants who had lower intakes of the vitamin.

It is not clear how vitamin D may lower the risk of type 1 diabetes, which occurs when the body’s own immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. However, vitamin D has been shown to suppress certain cells of the immune system that may play a role in the development of the disorder.

As type 1 diabetes is considered to be an autoimmune disease, it seems likely that vitamin D would be needed in enabling the optimal function of the immune system and in preventing too aggressive attacks against the body’s own tissues.

Current guidelines recommend that infants receive 7.5 to 10 micrograms (mcg), or about 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily.

Research on animals has shown an association between vitamin D and a reduced risk of type 1 diabetes. To investigate the relationship in humans, the researchers followed more than 10,000 women who were due to give birth in 1966 in northern Finland.

New mothers recorded whether they gave vitamin D supplements to their children and how much they provided, during the first year of life. Researchers tracked the number of children who developed type 1 diabetes over 31 years.

Nearly 12% of children were given vitamin D supplements occasionally during their first year of life, 88% received regular vitamin D supplements and less than 1% were not given vitamin D. Overall, 81 children were diagnosed with diabetes during the study.

“These findings bring hope that something can be done in order to prevent the disease,” Hypponen, from the Institute of Child Health in London, UK, told Reuters Health in an interview.

But while the study may be good news for families with a history of type 1 diabetes, the results may not apply to children in countries that receive more natural sunlight. In northern Finland, there are just 2 hours of sun daily during the month of December.

Ultraviolet light triggers a reaction in the skin that helps the body synthesize its own vitamin D. People with darker skin need more sunlight than their paler counterparts.

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Jill M. Norris from the University of Colorado in Denver adds that children who receive infant formula instead of breast milk, which contains inadequate amounts of vitamin D, may also be less likely suffer from a deficiency of vitamin D.

The Lancet November 3, 2001;358:1476-1478, 1500-1503



A previous study also found that cod liver oil taken during pregnancy was associated with reduced risk of Type I diabetes. Diabetologia 2000; 43: 1093-98.

The investigators believe that vitamin D might somehow inhibit the autoimmune reaction targeted towards the beta cells of the pancreas. Furthermore, impairment of immune system functioning by a suboptimum vitamin D status in infancy could have long-term effects on immune responses later in life.

Interestingly, northern Finland, which has the highest reported incidence of type 1 diabetes in the world, only receives two hours of sunlight during December.

What most people do not understand is that vitamin D is not really a vitamin, as we make more than 90% of it in our skin after being exposed to sunshine.

This article also points out something that I was never aware of before. “Between 47% and 97% of infants in European countries receive a vitamin D supplement whereas few infants in the USA are given one, and when they are, it is generally in the form of a multivitamin preparation in the USA.”

This is amazing and tragic as it is so simple to correct. All that is required is a small bit of cod liver oil. Cod liver oil has the exact type of vitamin D that you and particularly your children will need to stay healthy.

As you can read on the link below, breast milk does not contain enough vitamin D to provide for an infant’s needs, so breast fed babies are actually at a higher risk of this than formula fed babies.

I don’t normally recommend many supplements to my patients but cod liver oil in the winter is something I advise nearly every one of my patients to be on. If you live in climates where you will get regular sun exposure it is not necessary.

My current recommendation is Carlson’s lemon flavored cod liver oil as to most people it tastes like lemon melted butter.

The dose is – tsp of the oil per day for infants below six months and increase to – tsp per day after that until about five years old then one can increase the dose to one tsp per day which is also the adult dose.