How does vitamin D affect the different organs in the body? Does it affect them in similar ways, in different ways? Expand on that if you could.
Dr. Theodore Friedman:
Okay, well first of all, I think you are right about this increased awareness of importance of vitamin D and research in it. You know, maybe 10 or 15 years ago there was only a few papers a year on vitamin D. Now there are thousands, and different conferences, like you say, are devoting whole sessions and actually whole conferences, to the importance of vitamin D. So what we are learning about it has increased exponentially in these last couple of years.
And as I said, vitamin D has clear roles in bone disease. However, the other roles right now are mainly associated with correlations, but in the next couple of years they will be causational. Let me explain by that.
So, we know that patients with low vitamin D levels, for example, are more overweight; they are more likely to have diabetes; they are more likely to have heart disease; they are more likely to have high blood pressure; they are more likely to have certain cancers. However, we don’t know necessarily that vitamin D leads to those.
But now we are in this whole new range of studies trying to show that replacing vitamin D reverses some of these illnesses, and I am trying to do that study myself with diabetes. We know that patients with low vitamin D have diabetes, and specifically in my part of Los Angeles, we have a lot of African Americans and Hispanic patients that have a huge prevalence of diabetes, and partially because of the increased skin color in African Americans and Hispanics, and partially maybe they don’t drink enough or as much milk or take as much supplements, the vitamin D levels are the lowest in African Americans and Hispanics.
So our group has published a paper showing in a large population data now exists that the lower the vitamin D levels are, the more likely patients are to get diabetes.