Study links low vitamin D levels with onset of diabetes

Study focuses on women; first time such research has been conducted in India

Updated - July 04, 2018 12:04 pm IST

Published - July 04, 2018 01:34 am IST - New Delhi

Women in India are more likely to have vitamin D deficiency, especially those belonging to lower socio-economic groups, a new study has revealed.

The study was conducted by Fortis C-Doc in association with AIIMS, the Diabetes Foundation of India and the National Diabetes Obesity and Cholesterol Foundation.

The cross sectional study conducted in north India sheds light on the relationship between low vitamin D and high blood-glucose levels in Indian women who are in the pre-diabetic stage.

This is the first time such a study has been conducted in India. The study was published in the British Medical Journal.

The sample size for the study was 797 women between the ages of 20 and 60. They were chosen after a careful screening process, which involved clinical assessments and bio-chemical testing.

The study found that 68.6% of women in India are vitamin D ‘deficient’ while 26% have ‘insufficient’ vitamin D and 5.5% have ‘sufficient’ vitamin D.

“An inverse relationship exists between vitamin D levels and blood sugar levels, indicating that the lower the vitamin D levels, the higher the blood sugar,” noted the study.

“It has also been observed that post-menopausal women who suffer from low calcium deposits in addition to low vitamin D deficiency are at a higher risk of bone damage than others are,” said the study.

Women were assessed on the following parameters: blood pressure, body mass index, fasting blood glucose, hydroxyvitamin D levels, demographic and clinical profiles, medical history (personal and family), socioeconomic characteristics, skin exposure to the sun and overall duration of sunlight exposure.

Vitamin D may have a direct effect on the pancreatic beta cell function, thereby increasing insulin production, said the study, adding that supplementation with vitamin D may prevent diabetes in India women.

Vitamin D is present in foods such as milk, eggs, salmon, tuna, and mushroom. It is generated in the body endogenously, when ultra-violet rays hit the skin.

Immune system regulator

It is an immune system regulator and is helpful in boosting metabolism, strengthening brain function, reducing asthma and the risk of arthritis.

Anoop Misra, chairman of Fortis C-Doc, said: “Previous studies had already established the link between the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and abdominal obesity. They have also highlighted how diabetic patients have lower levels of vitamin D as compared to non-diabetic individuals.”

“However, the relationship between vitamin D and the development of pre-diabetes, with a focus on women, has remained obscure and unexplored. In India, there is a need to understand this as women have a propensity to be obese, develop metabolic syndrome, consequent hyperglycaemia and thereby be at risk of diabetes,” he added.

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