Scientists in America are undertaking a national clinical trial to investigate if Vitamin D can help to delay, or even prevent, type 2 diabetes.
A high dose to see effects
- all pregnant and breastfeeding women should take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms (0.01mg or 400IU) of vitamin D to ensure the mother’s requirements for vitamin D are met and to build adequate foetal stores for early infancy
- all babies and young children aged six months to five years should take a daily supplement containing vitamin D in the form of vitamin drops to help them meet the requirement set for this age group of 7-8.5 micrograms (0.007-0.0085mg or 280-340IU) of vitamin D a day
- babies fed infant formula will not need vitamin drops until they are receiving less than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day, as these products are fortified with vitamin D
- breastfed infants may need to receive drops containing vitamin D from one month of age if their mother has not taken vitamin D supplements throughout pregnancy
- people aged 65 years and over and people not exposed to much sun should also take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms (0.01mg or 400IU) of vitamin D 5
Vitamin D supplements in other diseases
A recent analysis of all the research into the role of vitamin D on bone density reported that vitamin D had no significant effect when taking 800 IU or less per day 6. But, whilst we are still advised not to exceed 1000 IU/ 25 micrograms a day, it has been suggested that supplementation with <800 IU may be insufficient to see the full beneficial effect of vitamin D on bone health. Furthermore, the recommended supplement level in the UK of 400 IU/day has been criticised by experts at the Barts and The London research centre who suggest a supplement of up to 5000 IU a day may be required to prevent rickets 7 and there is evidence that a short course of high dose vitamin D may be required to correct vitamin D deficiency 8.
Whilst the media was quick to pick up on the negative finding of this analysis, suggesting vitamin D supplements “do not help bone health” 9, the results could suggest that a combination of calcium and vitamin D supplementation is required to increase bone density in health adults, alternatively vitamin D supplementation may only improve the bone health of those with osteoporosis or over the age of 65. However, as highlighted in the last blog post, we do know that chronic vitamin D deficiency can significantly affect our bone health and only time will tell if vitamin D might also help to prevent diabetes.
2. Belechia, AM 2013 – clinicaltrials.gov as NCT00994396
3. Talaei, A 2013 The effect of vitamin D on insulin resistance in patients with type 2 diabetes