Author: Dr. Joseph Mercola, April 30, 2011
Vitamin D is also an important factor in diabetes. First, having lower levels of vitamin D has been linked to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. After following more than 5,000 people for five years, the Australian research team found that those with lower than average vitamin D levels had a 57 percent increased risk of developing diabetes, compared to those within the recommended range. According to lead researcher Dr. Claudia Gagnon:
“Studies like ours have suggested that blood levels of vitamin D higher than what is recommended for bone health may be necessary to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.”
Low levels of vitamin D are also known to nearly double your risk of cardiovascular disease if you already have diabetes. A 2009 study shed light on why vitamin D has such a significant impact on diabetics’ heart health.
Diabetics who are deficient in vitamin D cannot process cholesterol normally, so it builds up in their blood vessels, hence increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Vitamin D inhibits the uptake of cholesterol by cells called macrophages. Macrophages are dispatched by your immune system in response to inflammation and are often activated by diseases such as diabetes.
When you’re deficient in vitamin D, your macrophage cells absorb more cholesterol, and can’t get rid of it. The macrophages then get clogged with cholesterol and become what scientists call “foam cells,” which are one of the earliest markers of atherosclerosis.
So, if you’re diabetic it’s even more important to maintain therapeutic levels of vitamin D.