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Question:

From California, USA:

Six weeks ago, I started giving my 15 year old, who has had diabetes all her life, 400 IU of vitamin D3 and 1000 mg of calcium citrate daily. Her insulin requirements have decreased by 40% and seem to be leveling off there at the present time. I read an article about multiple sclerosis [MS], sunlight deficiency, and the fact that a diet containing fish ameliorated this. The MS incidence mentioned seemed similar to that of juvenile diabetes. In Greenland, where they eat marine mammals, diabetes and MS are unknown. In Iceland, where they eat fish, the incidence of juvenile diabetes is lower. I don't advocate eating fish necessarily, because of mercury contamination, but the fish nutritional aspects seem important to take as supplements.

I did some Medline research on D3 fatty acids like DHA, etc. and decided to try the D3 and calcium citrate. I have looked at the worldwide incidence of juvenile diabetes and attempted to look up the cultural dietary leanings of those countries. In Sardinia, where there is a high incidence of diabetes, they use a lot of wheat. In Lombardy, where the incidence is lower, they seem to favor rice and buckwheat over wheat. I have read that vitamin D3 is not absorbed as well with gluten problems. My daughter has had some celiac-related antibody testing (no anti-transglutaminase) and was safely in the normal range.

At any rate, the supplements seem to have had a strong effect. I have let my daughter's pediatrician and endocrinologist know by e-mail, but have received no comment so far. I have contacted the clinical nutrition department at a nearby medical center to see if anyone there has an interest in nutritional problems with juvenile diabetes. I'm hoping to stir up some interest in nutritional biochemistry relating to juvenile diabetes.

Answer:

The immunosuppressive effects of Vitamin D3 have been recognised for a good many years, and, if you like, search under 'vitamin D and diabetes' in PubMed. You will find quite a lot of references with abstracts. Specifically, the vitamin seems inhibit the cytokine IL-12 that is part of the Th1 or inflammatory as opposed to protective immune response.

There are some reasons why it has not become part of routine treatment. The first is that it does not replace insulin and is only likely to be effective as long as some inflammatory process is still going on. The second is that the margin between enough vitamin D to maintain bone calcium and what might produce nephrocalcinosis [calcium deposits in the kidneys] is quite small. In Britain, after World War II, children were getting vitamin D from a number of sources, not much from sunlight to be sure, but from fortified milk and government issued vitamins and some other sources. This induced a specific syndrome that became well recognised as 'Idiopathic hypercalcemia'. So I think you might talk to your daughter's pediatrician before going on too long with the 400IU supplement.

You will probably come across at least one report claiming that in countries, e.g. Scandinavia, where there is an increased risk of low vitamin D intake there is also a higher incidence of autoimmune diabetes.

DOB

DTQ-ONCEMDOB20000428
Original posting 29 Aug 2000
Posted to Alternative Therapies and Explanations

  
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:14
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