Scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum München have shown that people with a good vitamin D supply are at lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes mellitus. The study, which was conducted in cooperation with the German Diabetes Center and the University of Ulm, will be published in the October edition of the renowned scientific journal Diabetes Care
New tests performed on participants of the KORA study have shown that people with a good supply of vitamin D have a lower risk of developing Typ 2 diabetes mellitus, while individuals with lower concentrations of vitamin D in their blood have a higher risk. This effect could be attributable, amongst other things, to the anti-inflammatory effect of vitamin D. The result of the study, which was conducted at the Helmholtz Zentrum München in cooperation with Dr. Christian Herder of the German Diabetes Center in Düsseldorf and Dr. Wolfgang König, Professor of Medicine/Cardiology at the University of Ulm, could have direct consequences for the prevention of this common disease.
“Vitamin D deficiency is relatively widespread due to our modern way of life and the geographical latitude of Germany. In the winter months, in particular, people often do not receive adequate supplies of the vitamin because of the lack of sunlight,” explains Dr. Barbara Thorand of the Institute for Epidemiology II at the Helmholtz Zentrum München. “If follow-up studies confirm our results, a targeted improvement in the supply of vitamin D to the general public could at the same time reduce the risk of developing diabetes.” The human body can produce vitamin D itself if it has sufficient exposure to sunlight. The UVB radiation in natural daylight splits the precursor of vitamin D, 7-dehydrocholesterol, in the skin and forms provitamin D3. Further vitamin D synthesis occurs in the liver and kidneys. In addition, the supply can be improved by eating specific foods, such as oily fish, eggs and milk products, or by taking vitamin D supplements.
More than six million people in Germany suffer from Type 2 diabetes mellitus, and the number of undiagnosed cases could be equally high. Up to now, there has been no cure for this common disease. Type 2 diabetes is a disorder of glucose metabolism. It is characterized by a loss of insulin action and a drop in the levels of the hormone produced by the body. The mechanisms that trigger the disease have not yet been fully clarified. However, it is known that diabetes is caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors. The objective of the Helmholtz Zentrum München is to understand the mechanisms that cause common diseases and to develop new approaches with regard to their diagnosis, therapy and prevention.