Vitamin D deficiency could play a significant role in preventing the development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, according to new research.
The effects of vitamin D deficiency were studied in mice at Washington University School of Medicine, United States.
The researchers deactivated vitamin D receptors in the mice and observed there was an increased likelihood of inflammation being induced that was linked to type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
However, this inflammation decreased when scientists reactivated the receptors and allowed the mice to receive vitamin D, reversing the disease symptoms.
Aside from inflammation, the generation of excess glucose, insulin resistance and accumulation of plaque in blood vessels was also noted when the mice could not receive vitamin D.
When these receptors were turned off, inflammation in the liver and artery walls was induced due to blood cells sticking together.
This led to monocytes – a type of white blood cell – carrying cholesterol and other harmful substances in blood vessel walls.
“The monocytes were laden with fat in the absence of vitamin D receptor. And they carried that fat into the artery, so that’s a new understanding of another way fat may get into blood vessel walls in patients who are vitamin D deficient,” said Dr. Carlos Bernal-Mizrachi, senior investigator and associate professor of medicine and of cell biology and physiology at Washington.
The researchers now hope that research will show vitamin D supplementation in people who are vitamin D deficient could treat type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
“In our study, inactivation of the vitamin D receptor induced diabetes and atherosclerosis, so normalizing vitamin D levels may have the opposite effect,” concluded Bernal-Mizrachi.
The results of this study were published in an article by Science Daily.

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