By now, you probably know that obesity is a big risk factor for diabetes. In fact, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, a high BMI (Body Mass Index) is the best predictor of future type 2 diabetes. This is why the results of a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism have been so surprising. Researchers at the Endocrine Society found that people with low levels of vitamin D in their blood had a higher type 2 diabetes risk, no matter what their weight was. People in this group are also more likely to suffer from prediabetes and metabolic syndrome, which includes problems like high blood pressure, low insulin sensitivity, a large waist size, and high blood glucose levels.
To do this study, the researchers looked at 118 people at the Hospital Universitari Dr. Josep Trueta in Girona, Spain. The subjects were at all different weight levels (normal, overweight and obese), and had either diabetes, prediabetes or no metabolic disorders. The researchers measured the levels of vitamin D they each had in their blood streams and fat tissue. They found that low vitamin D was closely linked to type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, but not to body weight. This means that obese people without diabetes tended to have normal levels of vitamin D, and lean people with diabetes had low levels.
The scientists suggest that you may be able to lower your risk for type 2 diabetes by getting enough vitamin D. The best way to do this is to spend some time in the sun every day without sunscreen (but don’t stay out long enough to burn). There are also plenty of ways to get vitamin D through foods, such as:
- Vitamin D fortified milk, soy milk and cereals
- Egg yolks
- Beef liver
- Fatty fish like salmon, herring, mackerel and tuna
- Fish oils, especially from cod liver