Low levels of vitamin D3 could trigger the onset of type 2 diabetes, according to new research.
Scientists from the University of Toronto report that people with gum disease who lacked vitamin D3 were more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
Gum disease, or periodontitis, is strongly associated with type 2 diabetes and has a cause-and-effect relationship with high blood sugar levels. A lesser-known complication of diabetes, gum disease is actually the sixth most common disease in the world.
Vitamin D helps to lower inflammation and antimicrobial activity in the body, including activity that occurs in gum disease, so researchers set about investigating the effects of vitamin D3 – often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” – in relation to gum health.
The Toronto team analysed data from adults aged 30 and older from the 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey who received oral health examinations. A total of 1,631 adults were sampled who had type 2 diabetes; 1,369 did not.
The researchers reviewed the participants’ vitamin D levels, fasting glucose and insulin measures to understand the possible effects of vitamin D insufficiency.
The survey results showed that low vitamin D was significantly associated with type 2 diabetes. This applied to vitamin D3 insufficiency and for total vitamin D insufficiency together with gum disease. The survey was unable to show any clear links between vitamin D and prediabetes risk.
“Because it’s the first study, we really need to look at these two exposures again in other studies and population. It might impact further diabetes research,” said study author Aleksandra Zuk.
The findings have been published online in BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care.
Editor’s note: Keeping well-managed blood sugar levels is important in reducing the risk of gum disease as well as type 2 diabetes. Our Low Carb Program shows how eating a healthy, real-food diet can improve blood sugar levels in people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, and even put both conditions into remission. In the program’s Lifestyle section there is also information on how to maximise your vitamin D intake.

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