MUNICH, Germany, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Vitamin D deficiency precedes the onset of type 1 diabetes, but the vitamin deficiency does not seem to influence disease progression, German researchers say.
Scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen and the Technical University of Munich said vitamin D is known as a major regulator of calcium levels and bone metabolism. It also influences the immune system. Previous studies showed patients with recently diagnosed type 1 diabetes had significantly lower vitamin D levels.
The research team headed by Jennifer Raab, Dr. Christiane Winkler and Professor Anette-Gabriele Ziegler compared the vitamin D measurements taken from 108 children who were tested positive for islet autoantibodies with 406 children without autoantibodies. Lower vitamin D levels were also found in 244 children who had recently been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
Prediabetes is defined as the presence of multiple islet autoantibodies. If and when the disease progresses, however, does not seem to be influenced by the vitamin D levels. Within the group of children with positive autoantibodies, a few children quickly developed type 1 diabetes -- however this was independent from their vitamin D levels.
Recommendation of vitamin D supplementation at an early stage of type 1 diabetes may be considered, the researchers said.
"Vitamin D deficiency precedes the onset of type 1 diabetes. This may be a consequence of an immune response," Ziegler said in a statement. "In the case of prediabetic children, we must therefore be mindful of the risk of vitamin D deficiency and consider recommending vitamin D supplementation at an early stage of type 1 diabetes."
The findings were published in the specialist journal Diabetologia.