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Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - Vitamin D deficiency can be a contributing factor to diabetes

Vitamin D deficiency can be a contributing factor to diabetes

By Robert Pedowitz, D.O.

When it comes to vitamin D, there is no end to the good news about its benefits. But a deficiency in the ‘sunshine vitamin’ can wreak havoc on the body. Studies have already proven that carrying extra weight around the midsection increases the risk of several serious health conditions, including diabetes. People with larger waistlines also often have lower vitamin D levels because, in part, fat tissue traps this important nutrient and keeps it out of your bloodstream. Now, we’ve found there is a strong correlation between low vitamin D levels and the development of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

One recent study found that more than 90 percent of people with diabetes also had deficient levels of vitamin D. A second study linked vitamin D not to diabetes directly, but to a cluster of diabetic and cardiovascular risk factors known as metabolic syndrome. Symptoms of metabolic syndrome include obesity (particularly concentrated in the midsection), high cholesterol and triglycerides, high fasting blood sugar, high blood pressure, and low levels of HDL ("good" cholesterol). Because metabolic syndrome increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, sufficient levels of vitamin D in the body might be important in the prevention of these diseases as well.

How to get your Vitamin D

It is estimated that as many as 75 percent of Americans are now deficient in vitamin D. Historically, we maintained our levels just by going outside and getting a little fresh air. But today, many of us barely have time to enjoy even a few minutes in the sun in the midst of running from home to the car to the office and back. Though current guidelines call for 600 to 800 IU daily, many researchers believe we may need significantly more. However, keep in mind, taking too much Vitamin D may be dangerous. In fact, high doses, anything more than 4000 IU per day, may be detrimental over a long period of time.

You can’t go wrong by building a healthy dose of vitamin D into your day. For many, it can be as easy as going out into the sun. Just ten minutes a day is all you really need. In addition, I recommend you consume fatty fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, fresh or canned tuna) with a glass of milk on the side. For breakfast, cook some eggs or eat a full serving of vitamin D-fortified cereal and orange juice. If this isn’t possible, then defer to a supplement; the overall benefits to your health are remarkable, in addition to helping to offset diabetes.

Diabetes diagnosis and treatment services

CentraState Medical Center’s Novo Nordisk Diabetes Center provides the latest type 1 and type 2 diabetes education, prevention, diagnosis and disease management services for children, adults and seniors. In addition, the Star and Barry Tobias Health Awareness Center offers an ongoing roster of nutrition classes and support groups for individuals living with diabetes. Upcoming program topics include “Holidays are fun, but why do I feel blue?” and “Holiday madness and eating: What can I really have to eat and still enjoy this time of year?” For more information about these and all of the programs offered, call 866-CENTRA7 (236-8727) or visit centrastate.com/healthprograms.

Dr. Pedowitz is a board-certified physician specializing in family medicine. He is on staff at CentraState Medical Center and can be reached at the Family Practice of CentraState by calling (732) 780-1601.