What’s Up With Vitamin D?

It has been known for some time that intensive weight-loss intervention and rigorous lifestyle changes can at least partly reverse type 2 diabetes. But there must be an easier way.

Diabetes happens when beta cells in the pancreas fail to produce enough (or any) insulin. What if something could protect the beta cells and energize them to do their best work? What if one of the influential factors in diabetes management is vitamin D deficiency?

Ronald Evans, senior study author, writing from the Salk Institute, says,

We know that diabetes is a disease caused by inflammation. In this study, we identified the vitamin D receptor as an important modulator of both inflammation and beta cell survival.

Fellow study author Michael Downes says,

Activating the vitamin D receptor can trigger the anti-inflammatory function of genes to help cells survive under stressed conditions.

The research team also discovered that “a particular compound — called iBRD9 — boosted the activity of vitamin D receptors when they were bound to vitamin D molecules.” Meanwhile, the University of San Diego and Seoul National University got in on the act, with a 903-subject study that led the researchers to conclude that vitamin D deficiency multiplies the risk of developing diabetes by a factor of five or so.

Researchers have been looking into this for some time, but many challenges are involved in the making of such connections. Still, the possibilities become even more promising. Other recent work suggests that “adequate vitamin D status is related to decreased risk of developing type 1 diabetes.” Let us repeat that: Decreased risk of developing type 1 — which is of course a whole different ball game — and the prospect of being able to do something about it is breathtaking.

Ready for this?

But as of last week’s news, vitamin D turns out to not even be a thing, at least not until the human body gets involved. “It’s a prohormone that is synthesized by the skin when it’s exposed to UVB sunlight. The body is able to produce vitamin D…” Wherever it comes from, the body’s defense department needs it.

To put it in a nutshell, the immune system contains T cells, also known as killer cells. They are the police and the military. Some even take the role of First Responders, also known as “helper cells.” But in any case, before going into action they have to be given the order. Who is their commanding officer? Wait for it…

Researchers have found that when a T cell is exposed to a pathogen, it extends an “antenna” to search for vitamin D. If the T cells cannot find enough vitamin D, it won’t even begin to activate.

Now, what about obesity and thyroid disease? No one needs more hypothyroidism or autoimmune thyroid disease, yet that is what we will see increasing amounts of. HoltorfMed.com addresses obese young people, their parents, and any other concerned parties:

First, this study suggests that girls who are overweight should be evaluated much more rigorously for possible thyroid disease or autoimmune thyroid antibodies. Childhood weight gain or obesity can be considered potential “markers” for thyroid disease…

Specific instructions as to what tests to order are included. (Another post to the same website suggests that every thyroid evaluation should include measuring the amount of vitamin D available to a patient’s system.) Then, the writer goes on to say,

Next, we clearly need to know whether earlier diagnosis and treatment of thyroid and autoimmune issues in girls may help prevent further weight gain or obesity during adult life.

Is obesity a symptom of thyroid disease, or a cause? Is thyroid disease a symptom of obesity or a cause? The answers to such questions win Nobel Prizes.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Could Vitamin D help to fight diabetes?,” MedicalNewsToday.com, 05/13/18
Source: “Vitamin D deficiency linked to greater risk of diabetes,” ScienceDaily.com, 04/19/18
Source: “Vitamin D and Diabetes Mellitus,” NIH.gov, 03/29/18
Source: “Vitamin D: Don’t underestimate the ‘sunshine vitamin’,” BelfastTelegraph.co.uk, 11/06/18
Source: “Obesity and Thyroid Disease in Women — The Link Starts in Childhood,” HoltorfMed.com, 02/22/13
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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
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Presentations

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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