Vitamin D supplements given to children could reduce the risk of them developing type 1 diabetes later in life, new research has found.
A study by St Mary’s Hospital for Women and Children in Manchester, published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, claims that children given the additional vitamins were around 30 per cent less likely to develop type 1 diabetes than those who weren’t.
The findings also suggested that the higher and more regular a person’s intake of vitamin D, the less likely the risk of developing the disease, which can start in early infancy.
The results come from the hospital’s analysis of five separate studies examining the effect of vitamin D supplementation .
Dr Victoria King, research manager of health charity Diabetes UK, said: “This study suggests that taking vitamin D in childhood has the potential to prevent the development of type 1 diabetes .”
“However, much more research, in particular controlled trials which compares the results when one group of people are given vitamin D supplements and one group is not, are needed before we can confirm a concrete association between vitamin D and type 1 diabetes,” she added.
Previous research has found that people newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes have lower concentrations of vitamin D than those without the condition, while there is also believed to be a link between levels of vitamin D in the body and the risks of developing multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis .
In addition, studies have found that type 1 diabetes is more common in countries where exposure to sunlight is lower, as rays from the sun enables the body to manufacture vitamin D .
For example, a child in Finland is 400 times more likely to develop the disease than a child in Venezuela .
Type 1 diabetes is becoming increasingly common across the globe, particularly among people of European descent, with around two million Europeans and North Americans affected.
The disease is recognised as an autoimmune disorder, where insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas are destroyed by the body’s own immune system .

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