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Colorado Study Looking At Link Between Vitamin D, Diabetes

AURORA, Colo (CBS4) - Researchers at the University of Colorado Hospital are exploring a potential link between vitamin D and Type 2 diabetes. The study may uncover a way to prevent diabetes from developing.

"This study is aiming to answer that question of whether supplementing patients with vitamin D will actually reduce the risk of developing diabetes," said Dr. Elizabeth Thomas, assistant professor of medicine in the Department of Endocrinology at the University of Colorado Hospital.

Vitamin D
High dose Vitamin D gel caps. (Credit CBS)

The idea for this study came from some data collected in other large population studies that showed an association between low vitamin D levels and a high risk of Type 2 diabetes. Now the National Institutes of Health is funding research at 20 sites across the nation. In order to take part in the study, patients have to have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, a condition in which blood sugar levels are elevated but not high enough to be considered diabetes.

Dick Reininger got that diagnosis two years ago, after he retired from his career as a baseball/softball umpire.

"I think where my big mistake came was when I stopped umpiring, I didn't add something more active," Reininger told CBS4.

He signed up to be a part of the study which includes regular check-ups, and taking a supplement.

"There's a pill I get every day and I don't know what the pill is. I know it's either a placebo or it's a form of vitamin D," Reininger explained.

Other than taking the pill, Reininger is asked not to modify his eating and exercising habits so researchers can isolate if vitamin D is making a difference. They'll follow him and other patients for four years. Thomas is hopeful that if they can prove a link they will have uncovered a simple solution to a complex problem.

"It's something that has relatively low risk, very few side effects. It's safe to take. It doesn't require a prescription, so this would be something that could really improve people's health," Thomas added.

To participate in the study, you must be:

-- Age 30 years or older

-- Body Mass Index of 24-42

-- Blood Sugar A1c level between 5.7 – 6.4, or been diagnosed with pre-diabetes

-- Not currently taking diabetes medications

-- Not currently taking more than 1000 IU's of vitamin D a day

If you are interested in participating, please call 720-848-7710.

LINK: D2d Study

LINK: Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CCTSI)

Libby Smith is a Special Projects Producer at CBS4. If you have a story you'd like to tell CBS4 about, call 303-863-TIPS (8477) or visit the News Tips section.

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