If your child or another loved one is genetically susceptible to type 1 diabetes, there is something they can take to lower their risk. It isn’t a miracle drug. But, it’s the next best thing. This is how vitamin D may help prevent type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes can start with your immune system incorrectly attacking islet cells, the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas. When this happens, it is referred to as islet autoimmunity. When your islet cells are destroyed, you will produce little or no insulin. If your body does not produce insulin, or in insufficient amounts, the glucose can build up in your bloodstream.
Researchers found a link between low blood levels of vitamin D and type 1 diabetes in children. According to findings, a cohort of children were more likely to have their islet cells attacked by their own immune system. This was in comparison to another cohort who had higher levels of vitamin D in their blood.
Based on this research indicating that low levels of vitamin D in children made them at higher risk for islet autoimmunity, another study investigated the other side of this argument. If low levels of the vitamin made for higher risk, do higher levels of the vitamin decrease the risk? Researchers say, maybe.
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Researchers were able to find a positive link between diminished risk of islet cell damage and higher vitamin D levels. However, they were unable to pinpoint causation between the two. That is to say, experts cannot pinpoint yet exactly what the cause and effect relationship is between the two, but there is a link.
Current data is pointing towards how vitamin D may help prevent type 1 diabetes. However, research is still ongoing on the exact levels of vitamin D and supplementation. But, even a minimum amount of vitamin D supplements seem better than none.