DIABETES risk could be reduced by getting more sunlight and vitamin D, research has revealed.
- The study looked at blood samples taken from children every 3–6 months from infancy, for up to four years
- Results revealed children genetically susceptible to type 1 diabetes could slash their risk of the condition with vitamin D supplements
- It’s brought about a discussion around islet autoimmunity
Vitamin D deficiency in children increases the risk of developing a diabetes precursor, known as islet autoimmunity, scientists have claimed.
Exposing skin to sunshine is one of the best ways to increase your vitamin D intake.
Children with higher levels of vitamin D, and spend more time outdoors, had a significantly smaller risk of developing islet autoimmunity, the researchers found.
Islet autoimmunity is the name of the immediate condition prior to type 1 diabetes.
In the diabetes, the body’s immune system destroys its own insulin-making cells. Islet autoimmunity is diagnosed when the body begins creating the antibodies that attack those cells.
“For several years, there has been controversy among scientists about whether vitamin D lowers the risk of developing of islet autoimmunity and type 1 diabetes,” said Dr Jill Norris, lead author of the research from the University of Colorado Anschutz.
Previous research struggled to find whether vitamin D levels were linked to islet autoimmunity.
But, as you go further north of the equator – with less sunlight – the risk of developing diabetes was greater, it has previously been revealed.
This study was the first to show that children with high levels of vitamin D were less likely to develop islet autoimmunity in later life.
The scientists aimed to find triggers and protective factors against type 1 diabetes in almost 9,000 children.
They took blood samples every three to six months, and checked for islet autoimmunity, as well as vitamin D levels.
Children that developed islet autoimmunity had lower levels of vitamin D, the researchers revealed.