Vitamin D is an important hormone that not only regulates calcium but has many other beneficial actions. Theodore Friedman, M.D, Ph.D., Chairman of Medicine and Chief of Endocrinology, Molecular Medicine and Metabolism at Charles Drew University, is interested in the relationship between vitamin D and prediabetes, based on a study that came out of Charles Drew University that was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
In this study, the authors (Drs. David Martins, Keith Norris and colleagues) found that patients with low vitamin D levels had an increased rate of diabetes and other cardiovascular disease, including hypertension. The link between low vitamin D levels and diabetes was rather strong; and the lower the vitamin D level, the more likely the patient was to have diabetes. Black patients had a higher rate of low vitamin D levels and diabetes; Hispanic patients had low levels but not as low as black patients in terms of vitamin D levels; and Caucasian patients had the higher (but still low) levels of vitamin D. However, all groups of patients had low vitamin D levels.
Based on this correlation, Dr. Friedman has designed a study to examine whether treating patients with low vitamin D levels can lead to an improvement in parameters related to glucose (glycemic parameters). There has been one other study published showing that patients getting low doses of vitamin D and calcium for three years had a decreased glycemic parameter if they had prediabetes. Vitamin D may help improve glycemic parameters in patients with either prediabetes or diabetes by either improving insulin secretion, decreasing insulin resistance, or reducing inflammation.
As most patients in the US are vitamin D deficient, Dr. Friedman designed a study to quickly raise the levels of vitamin D into the upper-normal range. In this study, he will be giving a fairly large dose of vitamin D that comes as a liquid once a month for two months. At the beginning,
after one month and at the end of the study, he will perform glucose tolerance testing, which is a way to assess glycemic parameters.