A recent study conducted on infants has suggested that regular supplementation of dietary vitamin D during childhood may decrease the risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
Researchers compared the health of more than 12,000 children during the first year of life and observed that those infants who were given vitamin D supplementation had 80% less risk of developing type 1 diabetes as compared to the infants who were not given vitamin D. According to the researchers the risk for type 1 diabetes also increased three fold if the infants suffered from vitamin D deficiency (rickets). The exact role of vitamin D as to how it prevents diabetes is still not known. Scientists believe that vitamin D acts as an immunosuppressive agent and as type 1 diabetes is considered to be an autoimmune disease (i.e. the antibodies that normally prevent the body from foreign substances, start destroying the bodies own cells and in case of type 1 diabetes the antibodies destroy the beta cells that produce insulin required to control sugar levels in the blood), vitamin D is believed to prevent this process of self- destruction. However, some more studies will have to be conducted to understand the exact role of this vitamin.
Meanwhile, experts also caution that before incorporating a vitamin D diet, the potential risk of vitamin D toxicity in some people should be looked into beforehand.