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DIAL D TO PREVENT DIABETES

April 3, 2013

Catherine Peterson, MU nutrition and exercise physiology assistant professor found many pre-diabetic children and adolescents benefit from vitamin D supplements. In a recent study overweight participants who received the vitamin had lowered blood sugar levels. Though not a cure for diabetes, Peterson recommends testing vitamin D levels in obese patients because they are unable to process it as well as their normal weight counterparts. This research contributes to the Food for the Future and One Health/One Medicine initiatives. 

Story by CAFNRnews

Childhood and adolescent obesity rates in the United States have increased dramatically in the past three decades. Being obese puts individuals at greater risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, a disease in which individuals have too much sugar in their blood. Now, University of Missouri researchers found vitamin D supplements can help obese children and teens control their blood-sugar levels, which may help them stave off the disease.

“By increasing vitamin D intake alone, we got a response that was nearly as powerful as what we have seen using a prescription drug,” said Catherine Peterson, an associate professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at MU. “We saw a decrease in insulin levels, which means better glucose control, despite no changes in body weight, dietary intake or physical activity.”

Vitamin D Insufficiency is Common

Peterson and her colleagues studied 35 pre-diabetic obese children and adolescents who were undergoing treatment in the MU Adolescent Diabetic Obesity Program. All of those in the study had insufficient or deficient vitamin D levels and had similar diets and activity levels. Study participants randomly were assigned either a high-dose vitamin D supplement or a placebo that they took daily for six months. Those who took the supplement became vitamin D sufficient and lowered the amount of insulin in their blood.

“The vitamin D dosage we gave to the obese adolescents in our study is not something I would recommend for everyone,” Peterson said. “For clinicians, the main message from this research is to check the vitamin D status of their obese patients, because they’re likely to have insufficient amounts. Adding vitamin D supplements to their diets may be an effective addition to treating obesity and its associated insulin resistance.” More…