Researchers now urge every person with type 1 diabetes to have their blood vitamin D level tested.

Vitamin D is important for strengthening your bones because it helps calcium to enter your skeleton. However, in recent years researchers have discovered that vitamin D has roles in immune health, glucose metabolism, cardiovascular health and even has a significant role in survival after cancer diagnosis. Now studies have shown that being vitamin D deficient increases the risk of a person developing type 1 diabetes, and people who are deficient are more likely to have poor blood sugar control.

Correcting the vitamin D deficiency helps a diabetic to manage their blood sugar and thereby also reduce the risk of long term complications of the disease.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. It occurs when a person’s immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells of their pancreas. This leaves the pancreas unable to produce sufficient insulin and means a child must inject insulin several times a day. The disease most commonly develops in childhood but in recent years there has been a trend in later onset in adulthood.

Genetics plays a large role in determining who develops an autoimmune disease, but there are several well known environmental triggers. Viral infections, gastroenteritis, cow’s milk and gluten intolerance as well as vitamin D deficiency are known to be triggers for type 1 diabetes. If you have an autoimmune disease it’s essential to get your vitamin D level checked and supplement if necessary. You can read more about autoimmune disease in our book Healing Autoimmune Disease: A plan to help your immune system and reduce inflammation.