A pregnant woman’s intake of vitamin D from a regular diet, not from her intake of supplements, protects her infant against developing the “autoimmune” form of diabetes studies suggest.
A pregnant woman’s intake of vitamin D from a regular diet, not from her intake of supplements, protects her infant against developing the “autoimmune” form of diabetes studies suggest.Insulin-dependent diabetes can occur when the islet cells in the pancreas that produce insulin are knocked out by an abnormal immune attack against “self” tissues — an autoimmune reaction. Dr. Jill M. Norris and colleagues from the University of Colorado Health Science Center, in Denver, looked to see if maternal intake of vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and omega-6 fatty acids during pregnancy affected the appearance of islet autoimmunity in offspring. They asked 233 mothers of children newly recruited to the Diabetes Autoimmunity Study in the Young (DAISY) to recall their food and nutritional supplement intake during pregnancy, using a standard food questionnaire. The researchers then followed the children for a mean of 4 years for the appearance of autoantibodies directed against insulin or islet proteins. Sixteen children developed at least one type of autoantibody during follow-up, the team reports in the December issue of Diabetes Care. Analysis showed that high maternal intake of vitamin D through food was linked to a decreased risk of islet autoantibodies occurring in offspring. The group of mothers with affected children had an average daily vitamin D intake in food of 167.6 units, while the group with unaffected children had an average intake of 252.3 units. “Interestingly, we did not find an association between vitamin D intake via supplements and islet autoantibodies, which is similar to observations in another epidemiological study,” the authors write. The reason for this “is not clear,” but it could be due to differences in the way vitamin D is absorbed from food and supplements, or perhaps to the presence of an unidentified nutrient in vitamin D-containing foods. (Source: MEDLINE Plus, Diabetes Care Dec 2003)