Vitamin D and Diabetes!

Over the last seven years there has been a huge amount of research that has shown a direct link between vitamin D and diabetes. Unfortunately, most diabetics know little about this connection. The purpose of this article is to help educate you with current information. Information that will help you use this relationship between vitamin D and diabetes to reverse the diabetic epidemic facing Americans today. 

It is estimated that 23.5 million American adults have either Type I or Type II diabetes. And this number is growing. In the book, The Vitamin D Solution, Dr. Michael F. Holick discussed a Finland study. During the 1960s children received 2,000 IU of vitamin D a day during their first year of life. These children were followed for 31 years. For this population group they reduced their risk of developing Type I diabetes by 88%. 

It is because of this type of remarkable results that more needs to be learned about vitamin D and diabetes.  Here are some current studies to help you understand this connection between vitamin D and diabetes.

More Current Studies on Vitamin D and Diabetes 

Most people understand that vitamin D is crucial to bone health. Recent research is also suggesting that vitamin D plays an extremely important role in cardiovascular health and cancer prevention. Now the literature is making a direct connection between vitamin D and diabetes. Here are two examples: 

Example 1 – Esther Krug, MD, is an endocrinologist at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore and an assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. At the ENDO 2010 annual meeting of The Endocrine Society, Dr. Krug presented information showing that vitamin D deficiency was found in people with poor diabetes control. Participants in the study were placed into four categories ranging from normal to mild deficiency to moderate deficiency to severe deficiency. As their vitamin D deficiency worsened, so did their diabetes control.  

Based on these observations, one of Dr. Krug’s suggestions was that aggressive screening of vitamin D levels is crucial for people with diabetes. 

Example 2 – Joanne Kouba, Ph.D., R.D., L.D.N. and Sue Penckofer, Ph.D., R.N. of the Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing co-authored a review article published in Diabetes Educator. This review article suggests that vitamin D plays an integral role in both insulin sensitivity and secretion. One of the studies evaluated looked at 3,000 people with Type I diabetes. This study found that those who took vitamin D supplements had a decreased risk in disease. In observational studies of people with Type II diabetes, it was noted that supplementation may be important in the prevention of diabetes.  

According to Dr. Kouba, “Management of vitamin D deficiency may be a simple and cost-effective method to improve blood sugar control and prevent the serious complications associated with diabetes.” Dr. Penckofer added this additional comment,

“Vitamin D has widespread benefits for our health and certain chronic diseases in particular. This article further substantiates the role of this nutrient in the prevention and management of glucose intolerance and diabetes.” 

Just The Tip of Information on Vitamin D and Diabetes

As more studies are conducted and existing studies are reviewed it has become clear that vitamin D deficiency is widespread throughout the American population. Much of this deficiency is due to poor nutritional choices coupled with a reduced exposure to sunlight. To help you see one additional relationship between vitamin D and diabetes we need to look at type II diabetes. 

The beta islet cell that makes insulin has a vitamin D receptor. Adequate amounts of vitamin D stimulate these cells to properly produce insulin. Fat cells also have vitamin D receptors. There is growing evidence that vitamin D may directly help fat cells improve their insulin sensitivity. This means that vitamin D plays an active role in both insulin production, as well as enhancing insulin sensitivity. According to Dr. Holick, one study showed that for men and women who had the highest vitamin D intake there was a 33% reduced relative risk of developing Type II diabetes.  

To put this 33% reduced relative risk in numbers you’re looking at preventing as many as 8 million new case of diabetes. That’s a huge health benefit for the individual as well as our health care system. 

Some Conclusions on Vitamin D and Diabetes 

Just as adequate levels of vitamin D improve heart and bone health, adequate levels of vitamin D also reduce the risk for diabetes and diabetic complications. I would highly suggest that you pick up a copy of Dr. Holick’s book The Vitamin D Solution if you or a loved one has diabetes. Your body will thank you if you apply his suggestions. 

Together we can work to save a million lives!  

Dan Hammer 

Dan Hammer has a background in biology, chemistry, and exercise physiology. He used to run one of the largest health club operations in the Chicagoland area and has been helping people with their wellness issues for more than 25 years.  

The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only and never as a substitute for professional medical advice or medical exam. The information about Vitamin D and diabetes contained in this article has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease without the supervision of a qualified medical doctor.

Vitamin D and Heart Disease!

Vitamin DVitamin D has long been associated with bone health. However, over the last seven years new research, especially research by Dr. Michael F. Holick, has shown that this vitamin is essential in the prevention of heart disease and a host of other illnesses. For example, research now shows that vitamin D has an active role in the following biological functions: 

  • Calcium Balance – Maintaining blood calcium levels within a narrow range is vital for cardiovascular function, bone growth, bone density, and functioning of the nervous system. Specific to the cardiovascular system, proper calcium levels are needed to activate the NOS enzymes used by the endothelial cells to create nitric oxide from the essential amino acid L-arginine. 
  • Cell Differentiation – The active form of vitamin D inhibits cellular proliferation and stimulates cellular differentiation. Cellular proliferation is essential for growth and wound healing but when left unchecked it can lead to cancer. Vitamin D helps to regulate this so that cells differentiate into specialized cells for specific functions in your body.
  • Immune System Modulator – Research suggests that proper levels of vitamin D help to prevent the autoimmune diseases of diabetes, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. This vitamin also helps to boost your immune system functions. 
  • Insulin Secretion – New research suggests that insufficient vitamin D levels adversely effect insulin secretion and glucose tolerance in type 2 diabetes. 

This is just a brief look at the role vitamin D plays in your overall health. We haven’t yet touched on how it can prevent heart disease. Before we do, we need to review some basic facts about this vitamin. 

Vitamin D Basics!

There are two basic forms of vitamin D. One comes from plants in the form of ergocalciferol or vitamin D2. The other comes from humans in the form of cholecalciferol or vitamin D3. Extensive research on both D2 and D3 has shown that the D3 form is clearly better when supplementing with vitamin D.  

Supplementation has become a big factor in helping people achieve the necessary amounts of vitamin D. Why? For two basic reasons: 

First, your body is able to use the UVB of sunlight and convert 7-dehydrocholsterol, located in your skin, into vitamin D3. Unfortunately, we spend less time outdoors in the sunlight for a variety of reasons. This has dramatically reduced our exposure to UVB radiation needed to help people naturally produce their own vitamin D. This is compounded in the winter months when exposure to sunlight is further reduced. 

Second, we’ve underestimated the daily amount of vitamin D needed for good health. For a very long time, vitamin D has been categorized as a fat-soluble vitamin. New research is clearly showing that it’s not simply a fat-soluble vitamin used just for metabolic reactions. It’s also a hormone. There are receptor sites for vitamin D on the cell membranes of most cells in your body. As our understanding of the role that vitamin D plays in both metabolic and hormonal functions has increased, the blood levels needed to sustain this activity has almost doubled from what was previously thought necessary.  

Vitamin D and Heart Disease! 

Thanks to the work of Dr. Michael F. Holick and others, it is clear that vitamin D plays a critical role in preventing heart disease. It does this both directly and indirectly. However, it’s important to note that either method affects the health of the endothelial cells and their ability to properly produce nitric oxide. Let’s look at one indirect connection: 

Diabetes According to Dr. Holick, children from Finland who received 2,000 IU of vitamin D a day during the first year of life and followed for 31 years reduced their risk of developing type 1 diabetes by 88%. Dr. Holick goes on to say in a recent interview 

In terms of type 2 diabetes, the beta islet cell that makes insulin has a vitamin D receptor. Active vitamin D stimulates insulin production. There is evidence that vitamin D may be directly acting on fat cells to improve insulin sensitivity. Therefore, vitamin D plays a role in insulin production, as well as enhancing insulin sensitivity and is a likely explanation for one of the studies I cite in the book (The Vitamin D Solution) that there was a 33% reduced relative risk of developing type 2 diabetes for men and women who had the highest vitamin D intake.” 

Uncontrolled blood sugar, which is the challenge of diabetes, caused oxidative stress to the endothelial cells resulting in damage. Damaged endothelial cells affect the proper production of nitric oxide, which is the master signaling molecule of the cardiovascular system. This can lead to a host of heart disease issues like high blood pressure, poor circulation, blood platelet cells sticking together to increase the risk for heart attacks and strokes, and well as other damage to the vascular walls. 

Now let’s look at several direct connections: 

Blood Pressure Regulation Vitamin D plays a direct role in helping you maintain your blood pressure. It does this in two ways. First, it helps to maintain proper calcium levels so that NOS enzymes used by the endothelial cells can properly produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator that relaxes the smooth muscle tone of the vascular wall. This controls blood pressure. Plus, vitamin D helps to regulate proper blood volume levels that are needed to control blood pressure. 

Heart Muscle Function – Vitamin D plays a very important role in preventing muscle weakness. It also plays a significant role in nerve firing and nerve triggering of the heart muscle contraction. This means that vitamin D plays a vital role in both nerve stimulation for heart muscle contraction and the strength of that contraction. 

ArteriosclerosisVitamin D inhibits vascular calcification by blocking the release of inflammatory cytokines and adhesion molecules that can damage the endothelial cells. This is extremely important since the American Heart Association attributes 75% of all cardiovascular disease to arteriosclerosis.  

Vitamin D Daily Recommendations! 

In a recent study reported in The New England Journal of Medicine, vitamin D deficiencies are more wide-spread than previously thought, by as much as 50% or higher. This is especially true for older adults. The current recommendations for adults 18 years and older are 2000 IU per day. If you are overweight or obese then you most likely need even more.  

To learn more about how vitamin D can be a critical factor in improving your overall health and lowering your risk for heart disease, I would recommend The Vitamin D Solution by Michael F. Holick, PhD, MD who is considered by many to be The Pioneer of Vitamin D Research. Also, the following link on vitamin D would be helpful: 

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=110  

Together we can work to save a million lives! 

Dan Hammer 

Dan Hammer has a background in biology, chemistry, and exercise physiology. He used to run one of the largest health club operations in the Chicagoland area and has been helping people with their wellness issues for more than 25 years.  

The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only and never as a substitute for professional medical advice or medical exam. The information about vitamin D and heart disease has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease without the supervision of a qualified medical doctor.

Atherosclerosis and Osteoporosis Link!

atherosclerosisAtherosclerosis involves the calcification of your vascular tissue. Osteoporosis involves the decalcification of bone tissue. Could there be a link between the two?

Here is a medical fact that few physicians know and even fewer in the general population have ever heard about. As you age your endothelial cells, which line all of your cardiovascular system, can turn into bone cells. They are known as osteoblasts and they normally regulate bone formation.

This discovery was originally made in 1993. Since this discovery research has shown a link between atherosclerosis and osteoporosis. Those with atherosclerosis typically also have weaker, more brittle bone with an increased risk for fracture. Those with osteoporosis typically exhibit hardening of the arteries or atherosclerotic calcification leading to atherosclerosis.

To date the precise biological mechanisms behind the transformation of endothelial cells into osteoblasts, or bone-forming cells, is not fully understood. What is understood is the key role Vitamins D and K play in ensuring that calcium is properly used in bone formation while at the same time preventing the pathological calcification of your arteries.

These two nutrients operate synergistically to combat osteoporosis and atherosclerosis.

Vitamin D and Its Role in Atherosclerosis!

Most people know about the role Vitamin D plays in healthy bone structure and function. What most people do not know is how important Vitamin D is to cardiovascular health. Here is a short list:

  • Vitamin D inhibits vascular calcification, which can lead to atherosclerosis.
  • Vitamin D deficiencies are associated with hypertension, diabetes, increased thickness of the carotid artery, heart attack, and stroke.
  • Below normal levels of vitamin D is also implicated in congestive heart failure.

We’ll examine the function of Vitamin D and cardiovascular health in a future article.

Vitamin K and Its Role in Atherosclerosis!

Most people have never heard of Vitamin K yet it plays a critical role in stimulating new bone formation. Without the proper amount of Vitamin K in your system, your body cannot properly bind calcium and phosphorus to form the matrix necessary to produce and maintain solid, well-mineralized bone.

While the presence of Vitamin K is critical for bone formation, it is also necessary to protect against the calcification of the vascular system.

We’ll examine this function of Vitamin K and cardiovascular health in a future article.

Atherosclerosis and Osteoporosis!

Two age-related diseases are atherosclerosis and osteoporosis. While there are many contributing factors to the progression of each of these two diseases, medical science has now been able to establish a direct link between them. That direct link points to deficiencies of both Vitamin D and Vitamin K. Research has clearly shown that these two vitamins work synergistically to facilitate bone mineralization leading to strong and healthy bones. At the same time they work synergistically to prevent calcium deposits from accumulating in your vascular system leading to atherosclerosis.

Together we can work to save a million lives!

Dan Hammer

Dan Hammer has a background in biology, chemistry, and exercise physiology. He used to run one of the largest health club operations in the Chicagoland area and has been helping people with their wellness issues for more than 25 years.

The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only and never as a substitute for professional medical advice or medical exam. The information about atherosclerosis and osteoporosis has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease without the supervision of a qualified medical doctor.