A Chicago pilot project found that vitamin D improves the health of women with type 2 diabetes in several ways. Researchers who conducted it have received funding to expand the study to follow a larger number of patients.
A team from the Loyola University Chicago Niehoff School of Nursing found that among female type-2 diabetics with symptoms of depression, taking supplements of the vitamin resulted in significant drops in blood pressure, elevation of mood, and modest weight loss, according to ScienceDaily. They presented their findings at the American Diabetes Association 73rd Scientific Sessions.
The pilot study followed 46 women who averaged 55 years old. They had suffered from diabetes on average for eight years and showed insufficient vitamin D levels (18 ng/ml). During the project, they took 50,000 International Units (IUs) weekly for six months. At that point, vitamin D levels in the blood had climbed into the sufficient range, an average of 38 ng/ml, and moods were elevated. Scores on an initial depression survey moved from 26.8 to 12.2 at the half-year mark, indicating a significant drop in symptoms.
Average blood pressure readings fell from 140.4 mm Hg for the higher number to 132.5. Average weight dropped from 226.1 to 223.6 pounds.
The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse reports that diabetes affects 8.3 percent of the U.S. population, or 25.8 million individuals. Of these individuals, an estimated 7 million remain undiagnosed.
Type 2 diabetes, once known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, typically starts as insulin resistance. Of diagnosed adult diabetics, between 90 and 95 percent have type 2 disease. Diabetics are particularly at risk for a vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency, possibly due to consuming curtailed amounts of foods rich in the vitamin, lack of exposure to the sun, genetic issues, and/or being obese.
Vitamin D has an important role in calcium absorption and maintaining strong bones, says the U.S. Office of Dietary Supplements. It also helps nerves transport messages between various parts of the body and the brain and boosts the immune system's ability to attack bacteria and viruses. The normal sources of the vitamin are certain foods, sunlight, and supplements.
The Chicago researchers acknowledged that they need to conduct larger, randomized trials to figure out exactly how vitamin D supplements impact depression and the major cardiovascular risk factors common to type-2 female diabetics. They have received a $1.49 million grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research at the National Institute of Health for a follow-on study.
They expect to enroll 180 women with type 2 diabetes, evidence of depression, and subpar vitamin D levels in the four-year research project. Subjects will randomly receive either 50,000 IUs of vitamin D each week or a weekly placebo for six months. If vitamin supplementation proves useful, it would be an easy, cost-effective treatment with relatively few side effects.
Vonda J. Sines has published thousands of print and online health and medical articles. She specializes in diseases and other conditions that affect the quality of life.
- type 2 diabetes
- vitamin D deficiency
- American Diabetes Association
- vitamin D