Monday, 13 July 2015

Study asks if vitamin D could help prevent diabetes and heart disease

Vitamin D deficiency has reached epidemic proportions worldwide, primarily due to the shift to sedentary, indoor lifestyles and sun avoidance behaviours to protect against skin cancer. In Australia, despite the sunny climate, vitamin D deficiency is prevalent in 50 per cent of women and 31 per cent of men living at latitudes less than 35 degrees south, which includes Melbourne.

Researchers from the Monash Centre for Health and Research Implementation (MCHRI) are currently undertaking a study that examines vitamin D supplementation as potential means for prevention of cardiometabolic diseases.

In recent years, vitamin D deficiency has been implicated in the presence of cardiometabolic diseases including type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and has been associated with their risk factors including obesity, insulin resistance, hypertension, and chronic inflammation.

Lead researcher on the study, Associate Professor Barbora de Courten says that treating vitamin D deficiency may offer a feasible and cost-effective means of mitigating these cardiometabolic risk factors and potentially preventing the development of diabetes and heart disease in the population. 

“To date intervention studies have not been able to clearly define the effects of vitamin D on cardiometabolic risk, mainly because they have not supplemented adequate vitamin D doses for long enough periods to observe any benefits,” Associate Professor Dr  de Courten said.

In addition, studies have not included participants who are at greater risk of cardiometabolic diseases such as overweight and vitamin D deficient people, whom would arguably gain the most benefit from vitamin D supplementation. Also, only few studies have directly studied the effect of vitamin D on insulin secretion and resistance with the use of gold standard research methods. 

“Our study has addressed these limitations as we are including people at greater cardiometabolic risk, supplementing sufficient vitamin D doses for a period long enough to observe any improvements should they occur, and we are using multiple gold standard research methods and procedures”.

“If our study is able to show that vitamin D can improve cardiometabolic risk factors, this may have significant implications as it may encourage further research in this area, potentially leading to the provision of a cheap, simple, and effective means of reducing diabetes and heart disease risk at a population wide level,” Dr  de Courten said.

If you meet the criteria below, you can be part of this important scientific research and be rewarded for your assistance:
- Aged between 18 and 60 years
- Overweight but otherwise healthy
- Not taking medications, vitamins ⁄supplements
- A non-smoker, non-drug user
- Non-diabetic, no active medical problems
- Not lactating, pregnant (or planning to be in next 4-6 months)
- Living in Victoria

Participants of this study each receive a $300 visa gift card, along with the following free services at Monash Medical Centre in Clayton:
- Free medical review and diabetes and cardiovascular risk assessment
- Free body fat assessment
- Free routine blood tests and vitamin D assessment
- Free insulin resistance and secretion tests

For further information, or to take part, please contact:
Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation

Tel: 03 95947563 or Email: med-vitd@monash.edu

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