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Vitamin D may help fight diabetes in obese kids

Category: Vitamin D Deficiency-Diagnosis and Treatment

Blood tests don't just screen for harmful substances in the body, they also determine if individuals have healthy levels of important nutrients, like vitamin D. Children, in particular, may need to have their vitamin D levels tested. According to a study conducted by the University of Mississippi, vitamin D may help obese children and teens stave off diabetes, a growing concern in the U.S.

Researchers explained that the findings suggest that vitamin D supplements may help young people control their blood sugar levels, which can help keep them from developing type 2 diabetes.

Impressive results
Scientists stated that supplements led to dramatic improvements in blood sugar control.

"By increasing vitamin D intake alone, we got a response that was nearly as powerful as what we have seen using a prescription drug," said Catherine Peterson, an associate professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at MU. "We saw a decrease in insulin levels, which means better glucose control, despite no changes in body weight, dietary intake or physical activity."

To come to their conclusion, researchers examined 35 pre-diabetic obese children and adolescents. Everyone in the study was found to have insufficient vitamin D levels, and all had similar diet and exercise habits.

The kids were put into two groups and either received a high-dose vitamin D supplement or a placebo each day over the course of six months. Those who took the supplement not only ended up with sufficient vitamin D levels, but they also had lowered amounts of insulin in their blood.

However, Peterson cautioned that the amount of vitamin D they gave the study participants was very high, and they wouldn't recommend that everyone take it. She said the main message to take away from this study is for obese individuals to get lab tests to have their vitamin D levels checked.

Even more benefits
Vitamin D is an extremely important nutrient that people need to work into their diet, but that's not always easy to do. The National Institutes of Health states that vitamin D is naturally present in very few foods, but it is fortified in others. For example, there are many cereals on the market that have added vitamin D, as well as such as margarine, milk and orange juice. However, people should regularly get blood tests to check their vitamin D levels so they can make sure they don't have too much or too little. Having too much vitamin D may cause damage to the kidneys.

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