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A study in the British medical journal, Lancet, reports that lack of vitamin D may cause juvenile diabetes. If that is true, lack of vitamin D may also cause some cases of lupus, and Crohn's disease.

The beta cells of your pancreas produce insulin and release it into your bloodstream when your blood sugar starts to rise. Juvenile diabetes is caused by a person's immunity not doing its job of killing germs. Instead, the white blood cells attack the beta cells in the pancreas and destroy them so they can't produce insulin. Then, lack of insulin causes blood sugar levels to rise too high and the person develops diabetes.

One hundred years ago, tuberculosis was treated by exposing skin to sunshine. During the industrial revolution, many people worked 18 hours a day and were never out in the sunshine. When these people developed tuberculosis they were sent off to sanitoriums where they sat in the sun and ate good food, and many got better. Let's see if this clue can help to work out the puzzle of what causes juvenile diabetes.

Vitamin D is necessary for a healthy immunity. Vitamin D controls your body's production of white blood cells called lymphocytes and the chemicals that they produce called cytokines. Men who lack vitamin D are at increased risk for prostate cancer, because every man produces prostate cancer cells every day and their immunity kills these cancer cells. Vitamin D also helps to keep your lymphocytes from being overactive and producing too much of their chemicals called cytokines. Lack of vitamin D during infancy allows the lymphocytes to be overactive and produce too much cytokines, which can cause a person's own immunity to attack the beta cells in the pancreas so they can't produce insulin, and the person becomes a diabetic.

You get most of your vitamin D from sunlight; very few people get enough vitamin D from the food that they eat. Therefore, if you do not get enough sunlight, expect to be low on vitamin D and be at increased risk for lupus, prostate cancer, juvenile diabetes, and soft bones called rickets. African American males may be at high risk for prostate cancer because their dark skin blocks sunlight and markedly increases the amount of sunlight that they need to make vitamin D. African American women may be at high risk for lupus because their dark skin markedly increases their need for sunlight to make vitamin D, and without vitamin D to hold back their lymphocytes, the lymphocytes produce too much cytokines which attack and damage their own tissue.

Babies are at high risk for juvenile diabetes if their mothers lack vitamin D because they do not get enough sunlight. We await further research, but the article in Lancet is well written, well thought out and highly feasible.

Lancet, November 3, 2001

Checked 8/9/05

May 19th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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