“Sunshine” Vitamin Could Cut Type II Diabetes Risk

Vitamins have far-reaching effects on our health, so it is important to ensure you get your recommended amount of them every day.  Older people worried about the risk of osteoporosis commonly take Vitamin D; it is also made in the bodies of regular sun worshipers and is added to milk.  Now it seems both these types of people may also have been cutting their risk of getting Type II diabetes. A German study has shown that people with high levels of vitamin D in their bodies are in considerably less danger of developing maturity-onset type diabetes as compared with the bigger risk run by people who are deficient in this vitamin.   The research was carried out at Munich’s Helmholtz Zentrum München, the major research facility for German public health, with the aid of the GermanDiabetesCenterand the Universityof Ulm.  The scientists involved tested participants in the KORA studies, in depth surveys that have been made for 20 years into patients and their diseases in the Augsberg region.  They published their findings in the journal Diabetes Care. Type II once known mainly as a disease of the elderly and of those who had gained weight over the years.  However, with the obesity crisis worsening, Type II has become much more common and is now affecting younger people and even overweight children.  The disease occurs when the tissues of the body become unresponsive to the hormone insulin, secreted from the pancreas.  Insulin’s job is to stimulate the cells to take glucose from the blood and store it for their own energy needs. Although the mechanisms of diabetes are still not fully understood, poor diet choices are known to be a factor in the risk of developing it.  Scientists have known for some time that oily fish, for example, is a healthy eating choice and lowers the risk of diabetes, as well as other diseases. Oily fish is one of the richest sources of vitamin D, or calciferol, along with milk, cream, cheese, butter, yogurt, eggs, liver, mushrooms, and yeast.  In some countries, food products are fortified with added vitamin D in response to the public’s movement away from the consumption of butter in favor of lower cholesterol and “lite” margarines.  The body, in response to sunlight on the skin, also manufactures Vitamin D – around 20 minutes a day in daylight is generally sufficient for a person’s needs. Lack of vitamin D may arise through poor diet or because of insufficient exposure to sunlight, as in the case of people living at northern latitudes or people whose cultural or religious views oblige them to wear clothing that covers their skin.  The deficiency disease of vitamin D is rickets, once seen in children from poor homes whose parents could not afford to buy them fresh milk. The team who did the study felt vitamin D’s anti-inflammatory qualities were at the center of the effect it had on diabetes risks. “If follow-up studies confirm our results, a targeted improvement in the supply of vitamin D to the general public could at the same time reduce the risk of developing diabetes,” said Dr. Barbara Thorand of the Helmholtz Zentrum München.

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