Taking vitamin D supplements in childhood could help reduce the risk of type 1 diabetes, new research suggests, even in kids that have a family history of the disease.
A research team at University of Colorado found that the levels of vitamin D are directly linked to islet immunity, which is a process that signals the body’s immune system has started attacking the islet cells in the pancreas. The islet immunity paves the way to type 1 diabetes.
Co-author Jill Norris noted that past research has tried to find whether vitamin D supplementation could cut the risk of islet immunity and the autoimmune disease associated to it.
According to official data, type 1 diabetes is increasing by up to 5% every year globally. The autoimmune disease is one of the most common metabolic disorders in children aged 10 or smaller. In younger kids the disease is even more prevalent. Also, children located further north have a higher risk of developing the condition than their peers at the equator.
Vitamin D Can Boost Immunity
Vitamin D has numerous benefits on autoimmunity and the immune system. As we move further north where sunlight is not as constant as that at the equator, vitamin D levels tend to drop in local populations.
For their research, scientists analyzed the data provided by The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young study which involved more than 8,600 children. That study looked for factors that could trigger or prevent type 1 diabetes in childhood.
Parents provided blood samples from their kids every three to six months. Researchers looked for telltale signs of type 1 diabetes and vitamin D levels. Of the participants, 376 had developed islet immunity.
The study appeared in the medical journal Diabetes.
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