Low Vitamin D and Diabetes Risk

By: Mark Lange, PhD

A 12-year study of 903 healthy adults suggests that those with vitamin D deficiency are at much greater risk of developing diabetes. Read more to see the breakdown of this recent study on low vitamin D and diabetes risk!

The Study:

To address the question of whether low vitamin D list The subjects had their serum vitamin D levels measured during clinic visits from 1997 to 1999.  Then the subjects had their vitamin D levels measured again in 2009, along with fasting plasma glucose and oral glucose tolerance.


The Results:

Over the study period, 47 subjects developed diabetes and 337 became pre-diabetic.  The researchers determined that those with at least 30 nanograms per milliliter 25-hydroxyvitamin D in blood plasma did not become diabetic or pre-diabetic.  This is 10 ng/ml above the recommended 20 ng/ml 25-hydroxyvitamin D level recommended by the Institute of Medicine.

The authors state, “We found that participants with blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D that were above 20 ng/ml had one-third of the risk of diabetes and those with levels above 50 ng/ml had one-fifth of the risk of developing diabetes.”

What It Means:

Vitamin D has other functions. Perhaps the most vital are regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, and facilitating normal immune system function.  Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the gut and maintains adequate serum calcium and phosphate concentrations to enable normal mineralization of bone.  Without sufficient vitamin D, bones can become thin, brittle, or misshapen. Together with calcium, vitamin D also helps protect older adults from osteoporosis.

The authors recommend to reach 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels of 30 ng/ml, required dietary supplementation of 3,000 to 5,000 IU per day, less if getting moderate daily sun exposure. Vitamin D is sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s produced in your skin in response to sunlight.




Park, S.K., et al.  Plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration and risk of type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes: 12-year cohort study.  PLOS ONE 2018; 13(4): e0193070  DOI: 10/137/journal.pone.0193070