Vitamin D supplements have been linked to a number of health benefits including promoting healthy bones and preventing cancer. Recent studies show they may even help avoid diabetes. One study done at the University of Missouri involved 35 pre-diabetic obese children. They were randomly selected to receive either a high-dose vitamin D supplement or a placebo each day for six months.
The researchers found that those who took supplements lowered insulin levels in their blood. One researcher was quoted as saying that the response was “nearly as powerful” as taking prescription drugs. (See the original story)
In a separate study, 47 people (presumably adults) were randomly selected to receive 1000 IU (international units) of vitamin D or a placebo daily for 12 months. Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels declined significantly in the group receiving the vitamin but not in the placebo group. This means that the glucose levels were better controlled in the vitamin group. Higher HbA1c levels may increase risk of developing diabetes. (See original story)
Vitamin D is sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin” as our bodies can synthesize it from the sun (the best source). However, it is also among the highest in deficiency prevalence. People who live north of the Tropic of Cancer and south of Tropic of Capricorn may become deficient in the cold winter months.
Others who may be deficient are dark-skinned and overweight people, as well as the elderly.
Finding out the right dosage of vitamin D supplement you need can be tricky, as you are never quite sure how much you are getting from the sun. Most healthcare professionals recommend taking between 400 and 1000 IU daily (see Dr. Oz Video). The most active type of this vitamin when it comes to supplementation is vitamin D3, also called cholecalciferol.