A new study has found that taking 4000 international units (IU) per day, which is on the upper limit of the recommended intake, may double the amount of vitamin D in the blood but it gives most people roughly the same chance of developing blood sugar problems compared to people who don’t.
The researchers found that after about 2.5 years, diabetes appeared at a rate of 9.4 per cent per year with vitamin D supplements and 10.7 per cent with placebo capsules - an insignificant difference. The study used the patients already at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes and 80 per cent already had adequate levels of the vitamin.
Chief author Dr. Anastassios Pittas said that for the five per cent of the population “with very low levels of vitamin D, there appears to be a benefit, but we would urge caution and not have people overreact to that.”
So even if vitamin D helped the group, “these people would need to take vitamin D anyway so it doesn’t change the recommendations,” said Dr Pittas, co-director of the Diabetes and Lipid Center at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.
The research, reported by The New England Journal of Medicine and at a meeting of the American Diabetes Association in San Francisco, involved 2,423 volunteers who were at high risk for developing the adult-onset version of the disease.
A previous research had found that people with low levels of vitamin D faced a higher risk.
“Any benefit of vitamin D for diabetes prevention, if present, is modest and clearly does not pertain to a vitamin D-sufficient population,” said Dr Deborah Wexler of the Massachusetts General Hospital Diabetes Center in a Journal editorial.
“The message is there’s no magic pill,” said Dr Pittas. “Weight loss and increasing physical activity is still the best way to prevent diabetes.”