Vitamin D deficiency may increase diabetes risk

February 15, 2013

Increased intakes of vitamin D during adolescence could help to reduce the risk of the onset of type 1 diabetes as an adult by half, suggests a new US study.

This observational study investigated the relationship between blood vitamin D levels and the incidence of type 1 diabetes in 923 members of the United States Military (1). The results showed that white, non-Hispa-nic, healthy young adults with higher serum levels of vitamin D (over 75 nanomoles per liter) had about half the risk of developing type 1 diabetes than those with the lowest levels of vitamin D (under 75 nmol/L).

The researchers commented that a serious disease such as type 1 diabetes could perhaps be prevented by a simple and safe vitamin D supplementation. The risk of type 1 diabetes appears to be increased even at vita-min D levels that are commonly regarded as normal, suggesting that a substantial proportion of the popula-tion could benefit from increased vitamin D intake, the scientists concluded. The fact that no significant asso-ciation among Hispanic or black people was found may be due to the small number of individuals in the stu-dy. The positive findings, if confirmed in future studies, could lead to a role for vitamin D supplementation in preventing the serious autoimmune disease in adults with 1,000 to 4,000 IU/day, which is largely considered safe.


  1. Munger K. L. et al. Preclinical Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels and Risk of Type 1 Diabetes in a Cohort of US Military Personnel. American Journal of Epidemiology. Published online February 2013.