How does vitamin D affect people with diabetes?

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Maryanne R. Samuel, DO
Internal Medicine
There has been much research into vitamin D in recent years, with studies suggesting that it plays a role in everything from building strong bones to preventing cancer, improving mental health, protecting against heart disease and much more. Improved health for people with diabetes is among the possible benefits of vitamin D, including better insulin secretion and sensitivity and protection against eye complications. But, with the one exception of improving bone density, the research is preliminary. You should be cautious in taking large doses of vitamin D supplements because the benefits and risks still aren’t clear. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamin D for children 1 to 18 years and adults through age 70 years is 600 IU a day and is increased to 800 IU a day beginning at age 70. Unlike other vitamins, people can get large amounts of vitamin D merely by exposing their skin to the sun. Dietary sources of vitamin D include oily fish such as tuna and salmon as well as fortified foods such as milk and breakfast cereals.

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Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.
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