Study Shows Vitamin D Levels are Independently Associated with Insulin Resistance

Everyone knows getting enough sunshine and eating foods loaded with vitamin D is important for healthy bones and immune support. But did you know that your vitamin D level might also affect how well your body is able to use insulin to provide energy to your cells?

Researchers from the Endocrinology Department of Hebei General Hospital in China aimed to find out whether patients’ vitamin D levels were associated with insulin resistance.

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Insulin resistance refers to the body’s inability to properly use insulin to help with the uptake of blood sugar. Insulin resistance is commonly a starting point to type 2 diabetes. As long as the pancreas can create enough insulin to make up for the lack of glucose uptake, the patient remains only insulin resistant; when the pancreas stops being able to keep up with the need for extra insulin, blood glucose levels rise, and the patient develops type 2 diabetes.

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The cross-sectional study examined 172 type 2 diabetic patients’ basic characteristics and blood parameters. 121 of the participants were men, and 51 were women; their median age was 53.2 years. The insulin resistance index (20/[fasting C-peptide × fasting plasma glucose]) was used to evaluate participants’ insulin resistance levels.

In their first two models, researchers adjusted for few or no confounding factors, and no relationship was found between vitamin D levels and insulin resistance. In the third model, however, they adjusted for body mass index (BMI), DM course, insulin use, glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), fasting blood glucose, fasting C-peptide, triglycerides (TG), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), apolipoprotein A1 (ApoA1), albumin, and other turnover markers. In that model, the insulin resistance index was increased by 5.6 percent when vitamin D levels increased by 1 ng/mL.

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Vitamin D, also known as 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD), therefore, is independently associated with insulin resistance in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Vitamin D deficiency is a common health problem that affects up to half of adults. This study highlights the importance of vitamin D supplementation to help stave off insulin resistance and, in turn, type 2 diabetes.

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