Not getting enough vitamin D could TRIPLE your risk of an early death as scientists fear diabetics are especially vulnerable to a deficiency
- Researchers analysed hospital records of nearly 80,000 diabetics in Austria
- Those deficient in vitamin D more likely to die early from diabetes-related illness
- Risk of death from infectious diseases also doubled in vitamin D deficient group
Not getting enough vitamin D could triple your risk of an early death, research has suggested.
Scientists found having low levels of the vitamin – made by the body when exposed to sunlight – is heavily linked to dying from any cause.
The research also uncovered diabetes patients faced an even greater risk of death if they were vitamin D deficient.
Results showed patients were four-and-a-half times more likely to die from diabetes if they had low levels of the nutrient.
Charities today warned the findings did not prove being vitamin D deficient plays a direct role in causing an early death.
A lack of sunshine may make diabetics four times more likely to suffer an early death, research suggests
Researchers looked at records of 78,581 diabetics of all ages at the General Hospital of Vienna in Austria between 1991 and 2011.
Data was then matched with the Austrian national register of deaths 20 years later. There were 11,877 deaths in that time.
Patients with a vitamin D level of less than 50 nanomoles per litre (nmol/L) were considered deficient – widely recognised as a deficiency.
Researchers then set low and high levels of 10 nmol/L and 90 nmol/L to compare how levels of the vitamin affected mortality.
The study found vitamin D levels of 10 nmol/L or less were associated with a two to three times increase in risk of death of any cause.
The largest effect was observed in patients aged 45 to 60 years. according to the team at the Medical University of Vienna.
WHAT IS TYPE 2 DIABETES?
Type 2 diabetes is a condition which causes a person’s blood sugar to get too high.
More than 4million people in the UK are thought to have some form of diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is associated with being overweight and you may be more likely to get it if it’s in the family.
The condition means the body does not react properly to insulin – the hormone which controls absorption of sugar into the blood – and cannot properly regulate sugar glucose levels in the blood.
Excess fat in the liver increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes as the buildup makes it harder to control glucose levels, and also makes the body more resistant to insulin.
Weight loss is the key to reducing liver fat and getting symptoms under control.
Symptoms include tiredness, feeling thirsty, and frequent urination.
It can lead to more serious problems with nerves, vision and the heart.
Treatment usually involves changing your diet and lifestyle, but more serious cases may require medication.
Source: NHS Choices; Diabetes.co.uk
Levels of 90 nmol/L or greater were linked to a reduction in all-cause mortality of 30 to 40 per cent.
No statistically significant associations between vitamin D levels and mortality were observed in patients over the age of 75 years.
The risk of death from infectious diseases also doubled in the vitamin D deficient group, the researchers also found.
The researchers said: ‘Our survival data… confirm a strong association of vitamin D deficiency (under 50 nmol/L) with increased mortality.
‘This association is most pronounced in the younger and middle-aged groups and for causes of deaths other than cancer and cardiovascular disease, especially diabetes.’
Dr Faye Riley, research communications officer at Diabetes UK, issued caution over the findings.
She said: ‘Having any vitamin deficiency is going to negatively impact your health one way or another, regardless of whether or not you have diabetes.
‘But it’s important to note this study doesn’t show that vitamin D levels play a direct role in causing early death in people with diabetes.
‘When the sun is out, you’re following a healthy diet and spending time outside, then vitamin D supplements shouldn’t be necessary.
‘However Public Health England recommends that during autumn and winter people consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D.’
One in five British adults and one in six children is deficient in the vitamin, thanks to our modern diets, indoor lifestyle and grey weather.
The findings are to be presented at this year’s Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Barcelona.
Around 4.7million people are living with diabetes in the UK. It can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks and strokes.
Diabetes causes subtle structural changes to the heart as researchers hope discovery could lead to ways of preventing damage to the organ
Diabetes causes subtle structural changes to the heart, according to research published today.
Scientists say one of the earliest signs of heart disease in people with diabetes may be that all four chambers of the heart become smaller.
Adults with diabetes are up to three times more likely to develop heart and circulatory diseases, figures show.
Experts hope the discovery could be used to understand and detect heart damage related to diabetes.
This, the scientists say, may allow action to be taken before the damage can lead to serious heart problems.
The Queen Mary University of London research, funded by the British Heart Foundation, used data from UK Biobank.
It was published in Circulation Cardiovascular Imaging and involved experts taking MRI scans of the hearts of almost 4,000 people.
They then compared the hearts of people with diabetes to those without the disease.
People with diabetes had key differences in all of the heart’s four chambers.
The left ventricle – responsible for pumping oxygenated blood around the body – was smaller and the walls were thicker, a change which can lead to heart failure.
The other three chambers of the heart were all also smaller in people with diabetes, with the volume of each chamber shrinking by roughly a teaspoon.