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Getting Enough Vitamin D Significantly Decreases Diabetes Risk In Folks With Prediabetes

Morgan Chamberlain
mbg Supplement Editor
By Morgan Chamberlain
mbg Supplement Editor
Morgan Chamberlain is a supplement editor at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in magazine journalism and a minor in nutrition.
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It's no secret our nation has a serious metabolic health issue; 22 million U.S. adults1 aged 20 or older are diagnosed with diabetes, while approximately 78 to 84 million have prediabetes. (That's 34% to 37% of the adult population!) 

What's more, the prevalence of prediabetes and diabetes continues to rise, giving researchers an incentive to discover ways that Americans can stop this metabolic disorder from progressing. In a recent review and meta-analysis of three clinical trials from Annals of Internal Medicine, scientists from Tufts Medical Center did just that—and discovered that vitamin D intake may have a direct influence over the progression from prediabetes to Type 2 diabetes.

Vitamin D intake & metabolic health in America.

Vitamin D plays a key role in glucose metabolism and insulin secretion. As such, evidence suggests that this essential fat-soluble vitamin—or, more specifically, the amount you have in your body—impacts your likelihood of developing diabetes.

Considering 29% of U.S. adults2 are deficient in vitamin D and another 41% are insufficient, it's entirely possible the link between vitamin D and diabetes is stronger than we fully understand. 

In this review, researchers analyzed three different randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to see whether increasing vitamin D intake for an individual with prediabetes can effectively lower their risk of developing diabetes. Two of the RCTs tested vitamin D3 (aka cholecalciferol) intake—specifically, 20,000 IU weekly and 4,000 IU daily—while the third tested eldecalcitol (a vitamin D analog).

Their findings highlighted yet another health benefit of vitamin D. Overall, vitamin D intake was found to reduce the risk of diabetes by 15% in individuals with prediabetes. Additionally, it increased the likelihood of regressing to normal (i.e., healthy) glucose regulation by 30%. 

How vitamin D sufficiency impacts diabetes risk.

Interestingly, within the group of test participants that increased their vitamin D3 intake (rather than eldecalcitol), those that maintained a vitamin D blood serum level of 50 ng/ml or higher (i.e., the truly optimal vitamin D level we should be aiming for, according to experts) during the three-year follow-up reduced their diabetes risk by a whopping 76% compared to participants that had serum levels of 20 to 29 ng/ml (i.e., clinical insufficiency). 

These findings demonstrate that achieving and maintaining a healthy vitamin D status is a key factor for metabolic health. Evidence shows that a premium vitamin D3 supplement is the most effective way to ensure vitamin D sufficiency. If you're interested in sustaining vitamin D sufficiency, you can find mindbodygreen's favorite D3 supplements here.

The takeaway.

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient with whole-body health benefits. This review shows just how valuable vitamin D intake is for maximizing your overall metabolic health—especially if you have prediabetes.

Morgan Chamberlain author page.
Morgan Chamberlain
mbg Supplement Editor

Morgan Chamberlain is a supplement editor at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in magazine journalism and a minor in nutrition. Chamberlain believes in taking small steps to improve your well-being—whether that means eating more plant-based foods, checking in with a therapist weekly, or spending quality time with your closest friends. When she isn’t typing away furiously at her keyboard, you can find her cooking in the kitchen, hanging outside, or doing a vinyasa flow.