The online journal Archives of Disease in Childhood has a new report that children who take vitamin D supplements may be less likely to develop type 1 diabetes later in life. The researchers who published this information analyzed the findings of five previously published studies.
They found that children who were given additional vitamin D were about 30 percent less likely to develop type 1 diabetes than children who didn't receive vitamin D supplements. The evidence presented in this article also indicated that the higher and more regular the dose of vitamin D, the lower the risk of developing diabetes.
The incidence of type 1 diabetes increases by about 3 percent a year currently. It is estimated that new cases of the disease will have increased 40 percent between 2000 and 2010. Those of European descent are most likely to have type 1 diabetes; the disease affects about two million Europeans and North Americans. It develops when insulin-producing cells in the pancreas are destroyed by the body's immune system, a process that begins in early infancy.
There's evidence that levels of vitamin D and exposure to sunlight, which prompts the body to make vitamin D, influence the risk of developing other types of autoimmune disorders as well.
The review authors noted that global rates of type 1 diabetes vary greatly, according to latitude and levels of sunlight. For example, a child in Finland is 400 times more likely than a child in Venezuela to develop type 1 diabetes.