Could Vitamin D Eradicate Diabetes?

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The Vitamin D Society wants to make the public aware that new research studies report that up to 50% of diabetes could be prevented through the achievement of optimal vitamin D levels.

Based on the evidence, I believe if everyone achieved optimal vitamin D levels we could eradicate type 1 diabetes

Three new studies on vitamin D and diabetes report that people with higher levels of vitamin D have just half the risk of developing type 1 and type 2 diabetes as people with lower levels. Diabetes is a group of diseases marked by high levels of blood glucose resulting from defects in insulin production, insulin action, or both(1). Overall, the risk for death among people with diabetes is about twice that of people of similar age but without diabetes(2). Vitamin D lowers diabetes risk through improvement in insulin secretion and glucose tolerance(3). The Vitamin D Society believes public health action programs are urgently needed to encourage increased vitamin D from all sources to improve overall health and to help prevent diabetes.

“Based on the evidence, I believe if everyone achieved optimal vitamin D levels we could eradicate type 1 diabetes” said Dr. Cedric F. Garland, a Professor from the UCSD Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. “In fact our latest study(4) on U.S. military service members found that people who had the lowest vitamin D levels had 3.5 times the risk for insulin-requiring diabetes compared to those with the highest levels.”

A new meta-analysis study of 16 prospective cohort studies on 72,204 people, published in the peer reviewed journal, Clinical Chemistry, reported that study participants achieved a 50% reduced rate of type 2 diabetes when comparing the lowest vs highest quartile of vitamin D levels(3). The study author, Dr. Shoaib Afzal, from the Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark found that low concentrations of vitamin D are robustly associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes irrespective of population, level of adjustment or study design.

A second study examined the records of U.S. military personnel looking specifically at type 1 diabetes and found that Non-Hispanic whites with vitamin D levels >100 nmol/L had a 63% reduction in risk for type 1 diabetes compared to those with levels <75 nmol/L(5).

“The promising impact that optimal vitamin D levels could have on reducing diabetes cases in Canada and the USA is phenomenal” said Perry Holman, Executive Director for the Vitamin D Society. “With over 28 million people suffering from diabetes in Canada and the U.S.A., the research presented here supports that optimal vitamin D levels have the potential to reduce this by 50% or 14 million cases.” The Vitamin D Society recommend that people ask their family doctors to measure their 25(OH)D blood serum levels and if low (below 100 nmol/L Canada or 40 ng/ml USA) take immediate action to increase their vitamin D intake. Dr. John Cannell from the Vitamin D Council recommends sunlight, sunbed or D3 supplementation to increase your vitamin D blood levels.

The Scientists Call to D*action, a document published by a group of prominent vitamin D doctors, researchers and scientists, recommends that people achieve optimal vitamin D blood serum levels of between 100-150 nmol/L (Can) or 40-60 ng/ml (USA) for best overall health and disease prevention(6).Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with an increased risk for many serious diseases including bone disease, various cancers, infections, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases and adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Diabetes facts:

  •     World - A global epidemic. An estimated 285 million people worldwide are affected by diabetes(7)
  •     U.S.A. - Diabetes affects 25.8 million people, 8.3% of the U.S. population(2)
  •     Canada – More than 3 million Canadians are living with diabetes(8)
  •     Approximately 10% of people with diabetes suffer from type 1 diabetes and 90% from type 2 diabetes(8)

About the Vitamin D Society:
The Vitamin D Society is a Canadian non-profit group organized to: increase awareness of the many health conditions strongly linked to vitamin D deficiency; encourage people to be proactive in protecting their health and have their vitamin D levels tested annually; and help fund valuable vitamin D research. The Vitamin D Society recommends people achieve and maintain optimal 25(OH)D blood levels between 100 – 150 nmol/L (Can) or 40-60 ng/ml (USA).

For further information, please contact:

Perry Holman
Vitamin D Society



1.    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet.

2.    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National diabetes fact sheet: national estimates and general information on diabetes and prediabetes in the United States, 2011. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011.

3.    Afzal S, Bojesen SE, Nordestgaard BG (2012) Low 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A Prospective Cohort Study and Meta-analysis. Clinical Chemistry 59:2 DOI: 10.1373/clinchem.2012.193003

4.    Gorham ED, Garland CF, Burgi AA, Mohr SB, Zeng K, Hofflich H, Kim JJ, Ricordi C (2012) Lower prediagnostic serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration is associated with higher risk of insulin-requiring diabetes: a nested case-control study. Diabetologia (2012) 55:3224-3227 DOI 10.1007/s00125-012-2709-8

5.    Munger KL, Levin LI, Massa J, Horst R, Orban T, Ascherio A (2012) Preclinical Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels and Risk of Type 1 Diabetes in a Cohort of US Military Personnel. Am J Epidemiol 2013 Feb 3 DOI: 10.1093/aje/kws243

6.    GrassrootsHealth – Scientists’ Call to D*action

7.    IDF Diabetes Atlas, (4th edition, 2009) International Diabetes Federation, October 2009.

8.    Canadian Diabetes Association. The prevalence and costs of diabetes.

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Perry Holman
Vitamin D Society
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