2.The Sun-shine Vitamin Might Prevent Type 1 Diabetes

Researchers lead by Jill Norris, Ph.D., of the Colorado School of Public Health at CU Anschutz in Aurora, CO, found that higher levels of vitamin D may help to prevent islet autoimmunity. Children with low blood levels of vitamin D were more likely to experience islet autoimmunity, compared with those who had higher levels of the vitamin. Islet autoimmunity is a process wherein the immune system mistakenly attacks the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, causing type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is the tragic condition in which the immune system launches an attack on pancreatic cells called the Islets of Langerhans – which are often referred to as islets.

As a result of the immune attack on islets, the beta cells fail to produce sufficient amounts of insulin, causing blood glucose levels to become too high. While type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, onset is most common in childhood.

For this study the researchers investigated whether or not vitamin D levels in childhood affect islet autoimmunity. The study —included 8,676 children who had a genetic risk for developing type 1 diabetes. As part of the study, blood samples were taken from each child every 3–6 months from infancy, for up to 4 years and were used to identify vitamin D levels and islet autoimmunity.

The researchers found that among children who possessed a variant in the vitamin D receptor gene, higher vitamin D levels during infancy and childhood were associated with a reduced risk of developing islet autoimmunity.

That said, Dr. Norris and colleagues believe that their findings indicate that vitamin D has the potential to prevent type 1 diabetes in children genetically susceptible to the condition.

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