Health & Fitness

Is Diabetes Really a Vitamin Deficiency Disease?


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Ground-breaking new research offers hope for the millions of sufferers of diabetes around the world. While the exact cause of diabetes has eluded researchers and doctors for many years, exciting research shows that a vitamin deficiency may actually be at the cause (or one of the causes) for the debilitating, and frequently, life-threatening disease.

The research, published in Endocrine Journal, shows that vitamin A is essential for the proper functioning of the beta cells of the pancreas. The beta cells are responsible for producing insulin, which in turn helps to regulate blood sugar levels. In type 2 diabetes, which makes up about 95 percent of the 29 million diabetics in the United States, the beta cells stop producing sufficient insulin or the body stops responding to it. In the remaining 5 percent of people, type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system destroys the beta cells, rendering them incapable of producing adequate insulin.

In the new study, researchers found that there are many vitamin A receptors on the surface of beta cells. In an interview with Medical News Today, study co-author Albert Salehi of the University of Lund, Sweden, stated: “When we discovered that insulin cells have a cell surface expressed receptor for vitamin A, we thought it was important to find out why and what the purpose is of a cell surface receptor interacting with vitamin A mediating a rapid response to vitamin A.”

When the researchers partially blocked the vitamin A receptors, thereby eliminating the ability of vitamin A to bind to the beta cells, they made the discovery that the beta cells were unable to adequately secrete insulin in response to sugar. They also found that a vitamin A deficiency prevented the beta cells from coping with inflammation. A complete vitamin A deficiency caused the death of the beta cells.

This new research offers hope for an effective treatment for the millions of diabetics, and many others who may be able to prevent the disease altogether with adequate vitamin A intake.

In other research published in the medical journal Nature Communications, researchers found that vitamin A plays an important role in the prevention and possible treatment of pancreatic cancer. Check out my blog “The Vitamin Discovery that May Help Prevent Pancreatic Cancer” for more information.

Other recent research published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, found that vitamin A offers hope for those suffering from lung diseases like COPD or emphysema.

Food Sources of Vitamin A or its Precursors Beta Carotene and Other Carotenoids

Vitamin A and its carotenoid precursors are primarily found in eggs, apricots, fish, carrots, squash, cantaloupe, papaya, mangos, peas, broccoli, kale and other dark leafy vegetables. When we ingest foods high in beta carotene or other carotenoids, our body converts them into more active forms of vitamin A.

Many diabetics lack the ability to convert beta carotene into vitamin A so it may be necessary to get vitamin A in supplement form or from foods like fish or eggs. Because vitamin A can be stored by the liver it is important to follow dosage directions for the particular product you choose, otherwise it can build up to excessive levels in the body.

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