Vitamin D, also known by the name sunshine vitamin, is made by the body as a response to sun exposure.
Also, we can consume this vitamin in supplements and foods. Despite its name, this vitamin is actually a pro-hormone and not a vitamin. Vitamins are nutrients that cannot be made by the body. For that reason, we need to take them through diet.
On the other hand, this vitamin may be synthesized by the body when sunlight hits the skin. According to estimations, sensible sun exposure from 5 to 10 minutes for 2 to 3 times on a weekly basis allows people to make a sufficient amount of vitamin D.
However, this vitamin breaks down quickly, meaning that is low, particularly in winter. But, there is more in this vitamin than we were aware of. One new study confirms that.
Recently, one journal published a study about the importance of this vitamin. According to this study, kids who are susceptible to type 1 diabetes might lower their risk of the condition. That is possible if they get sufficient amounts of vitamin D.
The researchers found that kids with low blood levels of this vitamin were more likely to have islet autoimmunity. This is in comparison to the kids with higher vitamin D levels.
As a matter of fact, islet autoimmunity is a process in which the immune system attacks by mistake the cells which produce insulin in the pancreas and leads to type 1 diabetes.
According to Jill Norris, the lead author of the study, Ph.D. of the Colorado School of Public Health, and her colleagues, this study is the first which found that higher vitamin D levels might help stop islet autoimmunity.
When someone has type 1 diabetes, it means that their body fails to make enough insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels.
In this condition, the immune system attacks the pancreatic cells by the name Islets of Langerhans, known as islets. These are actually the clusters of the cells which contain beta cells. Their function is to detect sugar in the blood and release it when necessary.
As a consequence of the immune attack on islets, the beta cells cannot make enough insulin. That leads to too high blood sugar levels.
Chronic disease might develop at any age. However, the onset is common in childhood.
The Long-Term Controversy
According to previous research, low vitamin D levels might raise the risk of this illness. Due to these studies, scientists have been investigating whether higher levels of this vitamin might have a preventive effect when it comes to diabetes type 1.
However, the studies came with conflicting results. In addition, vitamin D is part of certain foods such as egg yolks, cheese, and fatty fish.
Dr. Norris together with her colleagues for the latest research set out to find out more about the relationship between this common condition and vitamin D. The main focus of the study was the find out whether levels of vitamin D in childhood impact islet autoimmunity.
Lower Risk of Islet Autoimmunity
This study involved around 8,676 kids with genetic risk for obtaining type 1 diabetes. They took blood samples from each kid every 3 to 6 months starting from infancy to 4 years. They used the same samples to recognize islet autoimmunity and vitamin D levels.
Around 376 kids developed islet autoimmunity, and the vitamin D levels of these kids were compared with the vitamin D levels of the 1,041 kids who did not develop the chronic condition.
The researchers found that in kids with a variant in the receptor gene of vitamin D, higher levels of vitamin D during childhood and infancy are linked to a lower risk of having islet autoimmunity.
According to the researchers, the study cannot prove the effect and cause between the higher levels of vitamin D and the lower risk of islet autoimmunity. Also, the scientists note that there is a need for further studies.