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Vitamin D and Type 2 Diabetes: What's the Connection?

Medically reviewed by Jezreel Esguerra, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Feb 27, 2023

    Vitamin D and Type 2 Diabetes: What's the Connection?

    From cancer, heart issues, and diabetes to a multitude of issues, vitamin D or the ‘sunshine vitamin’ has been proven to be beneficial. Vitamin D is known for absorbing calcium. However, the superstar vitamin is also known to increase the production of insulin. Read on to learn more about the connection between vitamin D and type 2 diabetes.

    As is known to all, diabetes, whether type 1 or type 2 is majorly caused due to the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin which regulates the glucose level in the body. As a result, blood sugar levels spike.

    Vitamin D comes into play here by regulating insulin production in the body. Vitamin D and type 2 diabetes are quite inextricably related.

    What Is the Role of Vitamin D in the Body?

    Studies have proved how beneficial is the relationship between vitamin D and diabetes. This vitamin is essential in the production of insulin in the body. Insulin is instrumental in the regulation of glucose which further transfers energy to the blood cells.

    The presence of vitamin D in the body is extremely beneficial, while the deficiency of it can cause various issues. Studies have reported that deficiency of vitamin D is linked to the onset and progression of diabetes mellitus. 

    What’s more, studies have proved that exposure of around 15 to 20 minutes to the sun each day, which by the way is the richest source of acquiring vitamin D, is the best way to increase the production of the vitamin in your body. This reduces the risk of diabetes and many other health issues.

    While sun exposure is the best way to get your dose of vitamin D every day, there are other supplements as well which are best taken with medical advice. In food, eggs, fish, powdered milk, fortified cereals, nuts, and more are good sources of vitamin D.

    On the other hand, the deficiency of vitamin D can lead to multiple issues in the body, such as muscle weakness, bone pain, weak immune system, and more. It also leads to long-term issues such as Alzheimer disease, hypertension, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

    Thus, vitamin D and diabetes are indeed linked, as a deficiency of the former is active in the occurrence of the latter in your body.

    Role of Vitamin D in Diabetes: What Is the Link Between the Two?

    We have established that vitamin D is extremely important to the body. The presence of it ensures that your body functions in a healthy manner. Also, the deficiency of it leads to many short-term as well as long-term health issues including diabetes.

    Various research and studies have found that vitamin D and diabetes are linked. A low level of vitamin D causes insulin resistance, i.e. a condition wherein the body starts resisting insulin, thus resulting in high levels of blood sugar and subsequently, diabetes.

    Vitamin D is known to keep the beta cells in the pancreas healthy. The beta cells in the pancreas are known for secreting the insulin hormone. Thus, it is extremely important that they remain in perfect health, or else it may lead to high blood sugar and type 2 diabetes.

    Here’s where vitamin D enters the equation. This vitamin actively enters the beta cells and interacts with all the receptors that bind together and produce insulin.

    In a diabetic person, the body tries to destroy the beta cells, thus creating insulin resistance. This often requires an external intake of insulin via injections. Adequate levels of vitamin D in the body, on the other hand, interfere with this destruction of cells and help increase insulin secretion.

    The body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium, which strengthens the bones. Calcium, on the other hand, has a small but essential role to play in insulin secretion. Vitamin D deficiency obviously results in low calcium levels. This further damages the body’s insulin-secreting capabilities.

    Vitamin D and Type 2 Diabetes

    The causes of type 2 diabetes include an unhealthy lifestyle, obesity, lack of exercise, age, and many such factors that affect the body over time.

    Even though it is harmful, it is still a manageable condition and less serious than type 1 diabetes. The relationship between vitamin D and diabetes plays an important role here as well, majorly because vitamin D negates the risk factors that cause type 2 diabetes. 

    • Vitamin D can aid weight management. It reduces the level of cortisol, a stress hormone produced in the adrenal gland. Higher levels of this stress hormone in the body often lead to the accumulation of fat that can lead to obesity, which is one of the factors that trigger type 2 diabetes.
    • Vitamin D helps reduce the level of parathyroid hormone in the body. This in turn improves metabolism, promotes weight loss, and reduces obesity in the long run.
    • Vitamin D is also helpful in regulating your daily diet. It helps keep hunger pangs at bay.

    It is clear that vitamin D helps reduce the risk factors that initiate type 2 diabetes.

    Be wary of certain terms when you are buying vitamin D supplements. For instance, the products which have a ‘good source of vitamin D’ on the packaging are mostly containing vitamin D2.

    Is vitamin D the only and most reliable source of controlling diabetes? Yes and no.

    While multiple studies have shown a positive impact of vitamin D intake, they have also proved that the results are quite slow and may not be that effective in managing diabetes.

    Also, there are other factors equally important for managing diabetes. 

    Key Takeaway

    There is indeed a link between vitamin D and type 2 diabetes. But the overall health benefits of the nutrient further strengthen this connection. Do you know of any other secret relationship between the superstar vitamin and diabetes, or any other benefit that we may have skipped? Do let us know in the comments below.

    Learn more about Type 2 Diabetes here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Jezreel Esguerra, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Feb 27, 2023

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