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NIH Funded Multi-year Research for Prevention of Diabetes

Update Date: Oct 22, 2013 12:34 PM EDT

A multiyear research funded by the National Institutes of Health has now begun to determine whether a vitamin D supplement can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.

"Vitamin D use has risen sharply in the U.S. in the last 15 years, since it has been suggested as a remedy for a variety of conditions, including prevention of type 2 diabetes," Myrlene Staten, M.D., D2d project officer at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), said in a news release. "But we need rigorous testing to determine if vitamin D will help prevent diabetes.

The Vitamin D and Type 2 Diabetes (D2d) study will be tested at around 20 study centers in the United States, which will include about 2,500 participants. Researchers say that their goal for this study is to learn if D3 cholecalciferol a form of vitamin D, will delay or prevent type 2 diabetes in adults who are predisposed to developing type 2 because of their prediabetes condition. 

"An estimated 79 million Americans have prediabetes, and nearly 26 million more have diabetes," said NIDDK Director Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D.

The study will be the first to investigate whether a daily dose of of 4,000 International Units (IUs) of vitamin D, a larger dose than the usual adult intake of 600-800 IUs a day, is proven to be effective in those with prediabetes.

"Based on observations from earlier studies, researchers speculate that vitamin D could reduce the diabetes risk by 25 percent," reported NIH. "The study will also examine if sex, age or race affect the potential of vitamin D to reduce diabetes risk."

For the study, researchers are now gathering volunteers. Researchers plan to treat half of the patients with vitamin D and the other half with a placebo, a pill with no drug effect. The participants are to receive check-ups twice a year for the study and will continue to receive health care from their health care providers. 

"The study will be double-blinded, so neither participants nor the study's clinical staff will know who is receiving vitamin D and who is receiving placebo," reported NIH. "The study will continue until enough people have developed type 2 diabetes to be able to make a scientifically valid comparison between diabetes development in the two groups, likely about four years." 

"This study aims to definitively answer the question: Can vitamin D reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes?" said Staten.

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