Speaker Abstract RCMM 2017: Associate Professor Dr. Foo Leng Huat

Vitamin D and diabetes risk: current evidences and challenges

Leng Huat Foo

School of Health Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Health Campus, Kubang Kerian 16150, Kelantan


Low vitamin D status, also known as hypovitaminosis D, is not only a biochemical abnormality, but is also associated with physiological, pathological and clinical signs of vitamin D deficiency, along with secondary hyperparathyroidism, and increased bone remodelling. Such deficiency may exacerbate age-related bone loss and the risk of osteoporotic fractures. Although the role of vitamin D has long been recognized in terms of its physiological function on mineral homeostasis by maintaining calcium and phosphate homeostasis and skeletal integrity throughout life, but in recent years, its function has been increasingly recognised in the prevention the risks of other chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and certain types of cancers. Vitamin D has been found to have wide ranges of beneficial effects in the body such as cell differentiation, anti-proliferative of cell growth and immunomodulation. A growing body of evidence has shown that beneficial influence of vitamin D on diabetes mellitus, in which higher levels of vitamin D in the blood is significantly associated with lower risks of prediabetes and diabetes in cross-sectional and prospective studies, but the effect of long term vitamin D supplementation on the diabetes risk is still less clear. Although the precise mechanism by which higher vitamin D levels could reduce the risk of diabetes is not fully known, but based on numerous available evidences have indicated that a possible mechanism for the inverse association between vitamin D and diabetes could possibly be attributed to both insulin secretion and sensitivity through β-cell function. Therefore, large and well-designed controlled randomised population-based intervention studies on the beneficial effects of vitamin D on glucose homeostasis in healthy individuals and also individuals with prediabetes and diabetes are highly needed to further understand the relationship between vitamin D and glucose homeostasis in the prevention and management of diabetes mellitus.

Key words: vitamin D; hypovitaminosis D; diabetes; glucose homeostasis