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Calcium For Diabetes

The incidence of type 2 Diabetes Mellitus is on the increase worldwide. More than 1 million new cases are diagnosed every year in just the US. Although treatments for this type of diabetes and its attendant complications have improved tremendously over the years, prevention is still the preferred option. Epidemiological data suggests that 90% of cases of type 2 diabetes can be attributed to habits and lifestyle that can be changed.

In this regard, the use of calcium for the prevention of diabetes has been the subject of numerous studies.

Vitamin D plays an important role in the absorption of calcium by the body. Low levels of this vitamin reduce the body’s ability to absorb calcium from food. The body then turns to the skeletal system for its calcium requirements, thereby weakening the bones. Vitamin D is also required by the body to maintain calcium and phosphorus homeostasis or equilibrium. Recent evidence also suggests that vitamin D and calcium homeostasis also play an important role in neuromuscular function, multiple sclerosis and prostate and colorectal cancer. Calcium and vitamin D are also suspected to be modifiers of diabetes risk. Calcium and vitamin D deficiency has been suspected as having a major role in the development of both type1 & type2 diabetes. Read in detail about the diet for diabetes

Calcium is an essential component of intracellular processes that occur within insulin responsive tissues like skeletal muscle and adipose tissue. A very narrow range of calcium concentration is needed for optimal insulin mediated functioning. Concentration levels that are out of this optimal range may contribute to peripheral insulin resistance. Vitamin D plays an important role in maintaining the right levels of calcium concentration within these tissues. Many studies show an association between low calcium and vitamin D levels and decreased insulin sensitivity but not all of them are conclusive. Supplements that combine both calcium and vitamin D may therefore help improve blood sugar levels and decrease insulin resistance in diabetics. They may also reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes developing. Also see symptoms of diabetes

Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA):

  • The RDA of calcium is 200mg/day for infants and 1000mg/day for adults.
  • For adults over the age of 50, the recommended dose is 1200mg/day. The RDA of vitamin D is 400IU/day for adults between 50 and 70 and 600IU/day for adults over 70. However, there is a growing opinion amongst health care professionals that vitamin D taken in higher doses than these may be beneficial to overall health.

Too much vitamin D intake can lead to excessive levels of calcium in the body. This can cause nausea, heart rhythm abnormalities and increased risk of kidney stones. High calcium levels may also cause constipation and interfere with the absorption of zinc and iron by the body.

Calcium And Vitamin D Interactions:

The following drugs and drug categories may interact with vitamin D supplements thereby affecting both vitamin D and calcium absorption:

  • Corticosteroids; certain drugs used to treat obesity, anti-epileptics like phenobarbital and phenytoin and cholesterol lowering drugs like cholestyramine may adversely affect vitamin D and calcium absorption.

Natural Sources Of Vitamin D & Calcium:

Sunlight is the major source of vitamin D. Vitamin D has two precursors, vitamins D2 & D3. UV rays in sunlight trigger the production of vitamin D3 in the skin. Vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol is the more active precursor of vitamin D. The other one is ergocalciferol or vitamin D2 and is absorbed from foods like liver and fish oil. These two precursors are combined in the liver and the kidneys to form the active vitamin D. Other natural sources of vitamin D are cod liver oil, salmon, tuna, egg and dairy products. Natural sources of calcium are dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt, nuts and seeds like almonds and sesame seeds, avocados, figs and vegetables like cabbage, broccoli and watercress. Soybeans, tofu, asparagus, dandelion greens, mustard greens, turnip greens and fish like salmon and sardines are also rich sources of dietary calcium. Many supplements are also available that combine both vitamin and calcium.

In conclusion, studies have shown a correlation between calcium and vitamin D deficiency and development of type 2 diabetes. The benefits of both these nutrients appear to be additive. This is because vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium within the body. Intake of both calcium and vitamin D in supplement form rather than from diet were also associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Appropriate levels of calcium and vitamin D may also help in controlling blood sugar levels and increase sensitivity towards insulin.

Submitted on January 16, 2014