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The Connection Between Vitamin D, Diabetes and Triglycerides

by
author image Jessica Bruso
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.
The Connection Between Vitamin D, Diabetes and Triglycerides
Canned sardines are a good source of vitamin D. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

You need vitamin D for calcium absorption, proper immune function, blood pressure regulation and insulin secretion. Adults generally require at least 15 micrograms, or 600 international units, a day. Not getting enough vitamin D can boost your risk for diabetes; increasing your vitamin D intake might help limit your risk for high triglycerides, a condition diabetics are more likely to develop than people who do not have diabetes.

Vitamin D and Diabetes

Vitamin D deficiency can change how your body creates and excretes insulin, which may increase your risk for Type 2 diabetes, notes an article published in "Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism" in March 2008. The role of vitamin D in calcium absorption may be partly responsible for these effects, because calcium plays a role in insulin creation and excretion. Not all studies show this effect, however. One study, published in "Obesity" in October 2010, found that insulin sensitivity doesn't seem to be associated with vitamin D status. Another study, published in June 2007 in "The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism," found that taking calcium and vitamin D supplements might help limit diabetes risk only for those who are at high risk because of glucose intolerance.

Vitamin D and Triglycerides

Having high triglyceride levels increases your risk for heart disease. One way to lower your triglyceride levels is to lose weight. Taking a daily supplement consisting of 83 micrograms of vitamin D while following a weight reduction program appears to increase the beneficial effects of weight loss on triglycerides, according to a study published in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in May 2009. Study participants taking the vitamin D supplements lowered their triglycerides by 13.5 percent, while those given a placebo increased their triglycerides by 3 percent.

Diabetes and Triglycerides

Type 2 diabetes is associated with diabetic dyslipidemia, a condition characterized by high triglyceride levels, increased concentrations of small dense low-density lipoproteins and low levels of high-density lipoproteins. These factors together increase a diabetic's risk for high cholesterol, clogged arteries, stroke and heart disease compared with people who do not have diabetes.

Boosting Vitamin D Levels

Your body can create vitamin D if you spend adequate time in direct sunlight. However, this isn't the most reliable method, and unprotected sun exposure can put you at risk for skin cancer. So eat more foods containing vitamin D, such as tuna, salmon, swordfish, sardines, beef liver, eggs and fortified foods, including certain breakfast cereals, dairy products and varieties of orange juice. Supplements are another option, but watch the dosage. Taking more than 4,000 international units a day can cause adverse side effects.

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