[Renewed interest in vitamin D, the so-called “sunshine vitamin,” has occurred recently because it has been linked to everything from cancer and heart disease to diabetes.1 Research studies continue to pour into the literature stating that vitamin D is a superstar when it comes to health.
A PubMed search in 2011 using the term “vitamin D” and selecting articles published in the past 2 years resulted in more than 2,864 hits. The following diseases and conditions have been researched to assess their relationship with vitamin D status: osteomalacia/osteoporosis,2–5 muscle function and falls,6–8 cancer,9–14 multiple sclerosis,15 hypertension,16 type 1 diabetes,17 rheumatoid arthritis,18 tuberculosis,19,20 mental health,21 cardiovascular events,22,23 infection,24,25 seasonal affective disorder,26 obesity,27 aging,28 and overall mortality.23
Some experts have found that between 2,000 and 4,000 IU/day of vitamin D3 is necessary to reduce the risks of cancer and autoimmune disease and therefore recommend these higher doses for patients with these specific disease states.42 Experts also recommend supplementing infants and children with at least 400 IU/day of vitamin D3, especially infants who are breastfed.34
Although the role of vitamin D in helping to regulate blood glucose remains poorly understood, vitamin D status appears to play a role in the development and treatment of diabetes. It is possible that optimal levels of serum vitamin D may be different for people at risk for developing diabetes, those with diabetes, and those without diabetes. According to Danescu et al.64, “both animal and human studies support the notion that adequate vitamin D supplementation may decrease the incidence of type 1 and possibly also of type 2 diabetes mellitus and may improve the metabolic control in the diabetes state. However, the exact mechanisms are not clear and need further investigation.”]