Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Vitamin D and Diabetes

noted author on natural health claims "Vitamin D is better than metformin (a common prescription drug) for diabetes!" Is she right?

Well, the answer to whether vitamin D is as good as metformin the lowering blood sugars and controlling diabetes is probably yes and no.

Almost 20 years ago Swedish scientists discovered that taking a vitamin D supplement helps control blood sugars in diabetic men if they are vitamin D deficient (and it slightly lowers blood pressure in others).

And if the diabetic is not vitamin D deficient? What are the symptoms of shortage of vitamin D?

In acute vitamin D deficiency, there's almost always bone fracture or bone pain. Otherwise, at deficiency levels that are a problem for diabetics and not for non-diabetics, it's hard to tell. The skin makes vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. People who get more sunlight, at least in North American culture, tend to exercise more. So whether it's the vitamin D or the exercise that's controlling high blood glucose levels in diabetes is hard to tell.

But are you vitamin D deficient?

In the winter months, if you live anywhere in Europe or Russia, north of Atlanta, Dallas, or San Diego in North America, north of Shanghai or Seoul or Tokyo in Asia, or south of Buenos Aires or Sydney or Auckland in the Southern Hemisphere, you probably are. A daily dose of up to 1000 IU (25 micrograms) a day may be helpful to your general health.

Recent reader questions:

Q. How long does it take to correct a vitamin D Deficiency?

A. Improved blood sugar control is usually measurable in two to three weeks. Recovery of bone health may take up to a year.

Q. What are the best sources of vitamin d in foods?

A. Cod liver oil, real butter, and cream. That's why a lot of people prefer the supplements.

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