For the last several years, obesity has been associated as a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Those who are overweight or obese have more pressure on their body’s ability to use insulin to control the blood sugar levels, increasing chances to develop diabetes. A new study, however, focuses on a different risk factor for developing diabetes: Vitamin D deficiency.
The new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, may have found that people with lower levels of Vitamin D are more likely to have diabetes regardless of their weight. Mercedes Clemente-Positgo of the University of Malaga, one the leading authors of the study said, “The major strength of this study is that is compares vitamin D levels in people at a wide range of weights while taking whether they had diabetes into account.” The study categorized the 148 participants by their body-mass index, and if they had any diabetes, pre-diabetes or glycemic disorders. The researchers then measured the participants’ levels of Vitamin D in the blood streams and vitamin D receptor gene expression in adipose tissue.
The researchers found that the obese participants with higher levels of vitamin D did not have diabetes or any other glucose metabolism disorder. They also found that the lean participants with diabetes were more likely to have lower levels of Vitamin D. “Our findings indicate that Vitamin D is associated more closely with glucose metabolism than obesity,” said Manuel Marcia-Gonzalez, another author of the study.
So what are the health benefits of Vitamin D? This vitamin helps in the body’s absorption of calcium and ultimately, maintains bone and muscle health. Vitamin D is produced when skin is exposed to sunlight as well as through the consumption of certain foods such as milk fortified with Vitamin D. Unfortunately, it is estimated that more than one billion people are Vitamin D deficient due to limited sunshine exposure. Listed below are a few ways to include Vitamin D in your diet and lifestyle:
- Fatty Fish (Salmon, Trout, Mackerel) & Canned Tuna: Fatty fish as well as canned tuna are excellent sources of Vitamin D.
- Sunlight: Just 20-25 minutes of sun exposure can cause the body to make Vitamin D.
- Portobello Mushrooms: Not all brands of mushrooms have Vitamin D, but certain brands that are exposed to sunlight contain the Vitamin such as Portobello mushrooms.
- Fortified Milk & Yogurt: Although most types of cow’s milk are fortified with Vitamin D, it does not mean that all dairy products are, such as ice cream and cheese. Always make sure to read the label.
- Fortified Orange Juice: Just like with dairy products, make sure to check the label as not all brands are fortified.
- Egg Yolks: Eggs are a popular food item that can be used in almost every meal of the day. Remember to use the whole egg, as most of the Vitamin D supply is within the yolk.
- Fortified Cereal: For a crunchier option, look for fortified cereal. Low calorie, whole grain cereals are the best options for the most Vitamin D.
- Cod Oil: Usually provided in capsule form, one tablespoon contains 1,300 IUS of Vitamin D.
- Vitamin D Supplements: Supplements can help you increase your vitamin D intake, especially for those who are unable to be in the sun.