Plain language summary
With the rising rates of vitamin D deficiency, identifying cost-effective, preventative strategies are imperative. Vitamin D plays a well-known role in bone mineralisation, however its protective role against chronic diseases is not very well understood. The aim of this trial is to investigate whether vitamin D supplementation will increase insulin sensitivity and secretion, as well as to determine whether vitamin D deficiency underlies the inflammatory properties associated with obesity. 50 overweight adults between 18 and 60 years old were recruited and assigned to receive either 4,000 IU vitamin D daily or identical placebo capsules for 16 weeks. This study elucidates the potential role vitamin D supplementation could have on preventing diabetes and its associated co-morbidities. It also provides comprehensive insight into the potential mechanisms of action. The authors conclude that this trial can corroborate existing knowledge while expanding the understanding on the role of vitamin D in the inflammatory response and subsequent development of disease.
BACKGROUND Despite Australia's sunny climate, low vitamin D levels are increasingly prevalent. Sun exposure is limited by long working hours, an increase in time spent indoors, and sun protection practices, and there is limited dietary vitamin D fortification. While the importance of vitamin D for bone mineralization is well known, its role as a protective agent against chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, is less understood. Observational and limited intervention studies suggest that vitamin D might improve insulin sensitivity and secretion, mainly via its anti-inflammatory properties, thereby decreasing the risk of development and progression of type 2 diabetes. The primary aim of this trial is to investigate whether improved plasma concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), obtained through vitamin D supplementation, will increase insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion. A secondary aim is to determine whether these relationships are mediated by a reduction in underlying subclinical inflammation associated with obesity. METHODS/DESIGN Fifty overweight but otherwise healthy nondiabetic adults between 18 and 60 years old, with low vitamin D levels (25(OH)D < 50 nmol/l), will be randomly assigned to intervention or placebo. At baseline, participants will undergo a medical review and anthropometric measurements, including dual X-ray absorptiometry, an intravenous glucose tolerance test, muscle and fat biopsies, a hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp, and questionnaires assessing diet, physical activity, sun exposure, back and knee pain, and depression. The intervention group will receive a first dose of 100,000 IU followed by 4,000 IU vitamin D (cholecalciferol) daily, while the placebo group will receive apparently identical capsules, both for a period of 16 weeks. All measurements will be repeated at follow-up, with the primary outcome measure expressed as a change from baseline in insulin sensitivity and secretion for the intervention group compared with the placebo group. Secondary outcome measures will compare changes in anthropometry, cardiovascular risk factors, and inflammatory markers. DISCUSSION The trial will provide much needed clinical evidence on the impact of vitamin D supplementation on insulin resistance and secretion and its underlying mechanisms, which are relevant for the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes. TRIAL REGISTRATION Clinicaltrials.gov ID: NCT02112721 .