I am a father of a daughter who has type 1 diabetes. In the last two years, I read more and more articles about Vitamin D and its ability to lower the risk for diabetes, including Time's "Vitamin D Lowers Diabetes Risk." Some experts say that giving 2000 IU for a child might reduce the risk by 50% or more. My understanding is that Vitamin D, at these levels, is safe and the cost is really not too high.
Looking at all this, I don't understand why the JDRF or the ADA don't come with a clear recommendation to the type 1 community to start and give the vitamin D to all other (nondiabetic) kids in the family. There are so many ads that invite new type 1s to take part in clinical trails that might extend the honeymoon by year or two so, why no one is pushing harder the Vitamin D? Am I missing something here?
The association of low vitamin D levels and incidence of type 1 diabetes is intriguing and valid. Whether or not providing more vitamin D (or anything else, for that matter) ahead of time would actually reduce risk of developing diabetes remains unknown. The exact dose that is needed for normal maintenance of vitamin D levels is also unknown and current recommendations are probably too low considering that vitamin D intake from food is less than it has ever been; sun exposure is less because of use of sunscreens to try (correctly) to prevent skin cancers, etc. The biggest problem is lack of specific research that could answer your questions. If one were interested, vitamin D levels could be measured (as can bone density) and then an individual decision made as to provision of at least minimum vitamin D levels to optimize bone health. As far as preventing diabetes, this would remain a total guess at the moment. If one were living in a part of the world where there is more sun exposure more of the time, then less vitamin D from food sources would be needed since the skin is able to use ultraviolet light to help synthesize one form of vitamin D. In more northern (or very southern climates) with less natural sun exposure for most of the year, this becomes more problematic and is one of the theories of the north-south gradient epidemiologically for type 1 diabetes incidence and prevalence.
Additional comments from Jeff Hitchcock, CWD Founder and Editor:
The research into vitamin D and type 1 diabetes is quite intriguing, and that's why the links are posted on the Children with Diabetes web site. While I'm unaware of anyone offering specific dosage recommendations, it's certainly worth discussing with your pediatrician.
Original posting 21 Sep 2009
Posted to Research: Causes and Prevention
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