Adequate vitamin D supply early in life may prevent type 1 diabetes

October 11, 2013

A new review concludes that babies with sufficient vitamin D intakes seem to have a reduced risk of developing type 1 diabetes later in life.

The review and meta-analysis included all available observational studies examining vitamin D intake during pregnancy or early infancy and compared the intakes to the risk of getting diabetes type 1 later in life (1). The analysis showed that babies who received vitamin D supplements in infancy were 29% less likely to develop type 1 diabetes later in life in comparison to the infants who did not get additional vitamin D. In addition, a statistically not significant 5% reduction in the offspring’s risk of getting diabetes type 1 was observed in the mothers who supplemented during pregnancy compared to those who did not.

The researchers concluded that these results supported the hypothesis that vitamin D can help to prevent type 1 diabetes. However, it is still not clear at what stage of development adequate intakes are most im-portant: during pregnancy or infancy. The fact that the analysis did not show a significant association in pregnancy may be because the mothers had not gotten enough vitamin D to see a larger effect in these studies, the scientists noted. More studies on vitamin D intake during pregnancy and the diabetes risk of offspring are needed as there are relatively few studies of this type compared to those examining supple-mentation in early infancy.


  1. Dong J.-Y. et al. Vitamin D Intake and Risk of Type 1 Diabetes: A Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies. Nutrients. 2013 ; 5(9) :3551-3562.