People who have low levels of vitamin D are more likely to have diabetes, regardless of how much they weigh, says a new study.
The findings suggest that besides maintaining a healthy diet, people can reduce their risk of diabetes and other metabolic disorders by spending some time on outdoor activities.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and maintain bone and muscle health. The skin naturally produces this vitamin after exposure to sunlight. People also absorb smaller amounts of the vitamin through foods, such as milk fortified with vitamin D.
“Our findings indicate that vitamin D is associated more closely with glucose metabolism than obesity,” said one of the study authors, Manuel Macas-Gonzilez from the University of Malaga in Spain.
Earlier studies had found that people who have low levels of vitamin D are more likely to be obese. The current study found that vitamin D levels were directly correlated with glucose levels, but not with Body Mass Index (BMI).
The researchers compared vitamin D biomarkers in 148 participants. All participants were classified by their BMI as well as whether they had diabetes, pre-diabetes or no glycemic disorders.
Researchers measured levels of vitamin D in the participants’ blood streams and vitamin D receptor gene expression in adipose tissue.
The analysis found that obese participants who did not have glucose metabolism disorders had higher levels of vitamin D than diabetic participants.
Likewise, lean subjects with diabetes or another glucose metabolism disorder were more likely to have low levels of vitamin D.
The study appeared in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.