No Clear Link Shown Between Vitamin D and Type 2 Diabetes

OCTOBER 03, 2014
Adam Hochron
A team of researchers at the University of Cambridge recently announced findings from a study that showed there is likely no link between a person’s vitamin D levels and their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The study, published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, was conducted after prior research had shown a possible link between higher vitamin D concentrations and reduced risk of developing diabetes.

Under the direction of Nita Forouhi, MD, of the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at the University Of Cambridge School Of Clinical Medicine, the team took a more direct approach than prior studies in looking for a potential link.

“Our findings suggest that interventions to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by increasing concentrations of vitamin D are not currently justified,” Forouhi noted in a statement on the study. “Observational studies that show a strong and consistent higher risk of type 2 diabetes with lower levels of vitamin D may do so because they have thus far not been able to adequately control for distorting or confounding factors, such as physical activity levels, that may be related both to vitamin D levels and to the risk of type 2 diabetes,” she said.

Forouhi said that the work the team did is just one part of a much larger puzzle. “Further research is yet needed with both better clinical trials and better observational studies with more precise measurement of important factors that may affect vitamin D and disease relationships. Until then, we need to be cautious about vitamin D’s potential role in the prevention of type 2 diabetes and stick to things that are proven to work – diet and exercise.”

A linked comment from Brian Buijsse, MD, from the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rebruecke, echoed the need to be cautious of the potential link.
“[These results] need careful interpretation, and long-term randomized trials of vitamin D supplementation, which are underway, remain important.” He added, “The results of a meta-analysis of 35 short-term trials, however, do not offer much hope that vitamin D supplementation can be used to prevent type 2 diabetes… The sky is becoming rather clouded for vitamin D in the context of preventing type 2 diabetes.”

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