According to the American Endocrine Society, vitamin D has a critical role in glucose metabolism. Deficiency is extremely common and significantly raises the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Studies have shown that people with low levels of vitamin D are more likely to be obese, to have type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes and insulin resistance (syndrome X) than people with normal vitamin D levels. Certainly being overweight raises your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but not every diabetic is overweight. Quite a lot of slim people end up with the disease.

Vitamin D helps to strengthen bones by improving calcium absorption. Recent research shows that it has far more functions and benefits. Vitamin D has a steroid like structure and behaves more like a hormone than a vitamin in your body. It helps to reduce excess inflammation in the body and it can help to reduce the risk of allergies and autoimmune disease. Interestingly vitamin D has a number of benefits for your metabolism. People low in this nutrient are more likely to be overweight, have high blood sugar, high blood fats and high blood pressure. Those factors are all typically associated with type 2 diabetes.

Unfortunately, many people don’t have optimum levels of this vitamin in their bloodstream. It is thought that more than one billion people in the world are low in vitamin D due to limited sun exposure.

We make vitamin D in our skin from sunlight, but only from UVB rays. UVB rays are strongest in the middle of the day, so that’s the optimum time to go outside and get some sun exposure. It is important to never get sunburnt though. The trick to increasing your vitamin D level is to get brief yet frequent sun exposure, preferably between the hours of 11am and 2pm. Your skin tone will determine how long you need to be outside in order to manufacture sufficient vitamin D. Fair skinned people do not have much melanin in their skin, therefore they absorb UVB rays well. Dark skinned individuals need a lot more time in the sun to manufacture sufficient vitamin D.

“Our findings indicate that vitamin D is associated more closely with glucose metabolism than obesity,” is a statement from one of the study’s authors, Manuel Macías-González, PhD, of Complejo Hospitalario de Málaga (Virgen de la Victoria) and the University of Málaga. “The study suggests that vitamin D deficiency and obesity interact synergistically to heighten the risk of diabetes and other metabolic disorders. The average person may be able to reduce their risk by maintaining a healthy diet and getting enough outdoor activity.”

People at highest risk of vitamin D deficiency include those with dark skin, people who avoid sunshine and people who wear concealing clothing. It is important to remember that sunscreen inhibits vitamin D production. Depending on where in the world you live, it may not always be possible to go outside into the sunshine. Very few foods contain significant levels of vitamin D; that’s why a supplement is sometimes essential. If you have not had a blood test to check your vitamin D level, please ask your doctor for one.

If you already have type 2 diabetes, you should find that increasing your vitamin D level helps you to manage your blood sugar and lose weight more easily. Vitamin D is just one factor in diabetes; other things you can do to reduce your risk or improve management of the disease include the following:

  • Cut down on the amount of carbohydrate you eat. Sugar, grains, cereals and starches are all forms of carbohydrate. Eating too much carbohydrate can promote elevated blood sugar, elevated insulin and increased body fat deposition. Excess carbohydrate ingestion is also the biggest risk factor in promoting fatty liver disease. Therefore, it is best to base your diet on vegetables, protein and healthy fats. There is an easy to follow eating plan in my book Diabetes Type 2: You Can Reverse It Naturally.
  • Help insulin to work better. There are certain herbs and nutrients that help to make insulin more effective in your body. This is a good thing because if it’s more effective, you won’t need to secrete as much of it into your bloodstream. Too much insulin in your bloodstream can be harmful because it encourages fat creation and increases hunger and cravings. The most important nutrients for insulin action are chromium and magnesium. You have probably heard that chromium helps to reduce sugar cravings and it’s true. It does this by helping to keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day. Chromium deficiency is incredibly common because not many foods are a good source of this mineral. Also when you eat sugar or high carb foods, it flushes chromium out of your body through your urine. Magnesium is also necessary for healthy insulin action. People who take blood pressure medication or diuretics (fluid tablets) are typically low in magnesium. Magnesium helps to relax your nervous system and makes you feel less stressed. Thus it is fantastic for people who eat when they feel stressed. Gymnema sylvestre is an herb that helps to keep your blood sugar stable and it helps to reduce sugar cravings. It is also very good for diabetics. Bitter melon is a vegetable that is commonly used in Asian cuisine. True to its name, it is an extremely bitter vegetable and many people are not able to handle the intense flavour at all. You can find all of these nutrients and herbs combined together in Glicemic Balance capsules. When taken with meals they help to reduce hunger and cravings and help to lower your blood insulin level.
  • Take good care of your liver. A healthy liver is very important for blood sugar control. This is because the liver can store glucose and fat, and also produce glucose and fat. You want your liver to be good at fat burning. People with a healthy liver have a fast metabolism and don’t gain weight as easily. Unfortunately, a lot of people have a fatty liver and their liver is doing the opposite of what it should be doing – it is very busy making fat. A healthy liver also helps to control your blood sugar level. If you have not eaten for several hours, your liver is supposed to release some stored glucose into your bloodstream to give you energy and keep hunger at bay. People with a sluggish liver struggle with this and they often feel excessively hungry, weak or irritable if they have gone several hours without food. It makes sticking to a diet extremely difficult! People with pre-diabetes typically have strong sugar cravings because they have a fatty liver and thus have poor blood sugar control and tendency to suffer with hypoglycaemia. To help improve your liver health I recommend you take a good quality liver tonic like Livatone Plus, to provide the nutrients your liver requires in order to burn fat and detoxify your bloodstream more effectively.
  • Make sure you eat adequate protein in order to feel full and satisfied. Anyone can lose weight by drastically cutting down on their food intake, but no one can maintain a diet that leaves them feeling hungry all day. Protein and good fats help to keep you feeling full and satisfied, making a healthy eating plan far easier to stick to. Good source of protein include eggs, seafood, poultry, whey protein powder, grass fed meat, nuts and seeds. Healthy sources of fat include olive oil, avocados, coconut oil, ghee, macadamia nut oil and olive oil. Try to have some protein and healthy fat at each meal, particularly breakfast. This should leave you feeling full and satisfied and less prone to snacking on sugary treats. Good breakfast options are a whey protein powder smoothie or eggs with vegetables.

The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.