Vitamin D for the Diabetic Heart

Cholesterol levels and heart disease risk improved in diabetes patients who drink vitamin D yogurt

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) If you develop diabetes, you have to start taking even better care of your heart than before. Drinking a certain type of yogurt may be one way to protect against your increased risk of heart disease.

Diabetes patients who regularly consume a yogurt drink enriched with vitamin D have improved cholesterol levels and fewer signs of endothelial dysfunction, which comes before heart disease.

"Get enough vitamin D if you have diabetes."

People who do not get enough vitamin D run the risk of various health problems. Low vitamin D levels can affect the inner lining of blood vessels, which in turn can lead to atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries) and heart disease.

For a recent study, researchers from the National Research Institute and Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iran wanted to see how vitamin D affects blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, and endothelial biomarkers (signs of problems with the lining of blood vessels) in people with type 2 diabetes. They assigned 50 participants to drink plain yogurt while another 50 drank yogurt enriched with vitamin D, each twice a day for twelve weeks.

The findings show that diabetes patients who consumed the vitamin D-enriched yogurt drink had improved levels of blood sugar and insulin, a hormone that manages blood sugar.

Those who drank the vitamin D yogurt had a better QUICK1 score, a measure of insulin resistance. They also had some improvement in HbA1c, a measure of blood sugar levels over a three-month period.

In addition, patients who drank the vitamin D-enriched yogurt had better cholesterol levels, explains Dr. Tirang R. Neyestani, one of the researchers involved in the study. These patients had lower levels of total cholesterol and LDL, or "bad," cholesterol. At the same time, their HDL, or "good," cholesterol levels increased.

According to Professor Abolghassem Djazayery, who was involved in the study, most of the patients did not have enough vitamin D at the beginning of the study. The vitamin D-enriched yogurt brought vitamin D levels to normal in most cases. Yet, there were still some patients who did not benefit from the vitamin D yogurt. About 5 percent still had a vitamin D deficiency at the end of 12 weeks. Nonetheless, Dr. Djazayery concludes that consuming the vitamin D-enriched yogurt drink is an easy way for most diabetics to improve their outcomes.

This double-blind trial is published in the journal BMC Medicine

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Review Date: 
November 28, 2011
Last Updated:
November 29, 2011