By Jonathan Benson, contributing writer to Natural News
Exercise is invaluable when it comes to maintaining a healthy body composition. But a new study out of South Korea has found that both physical activity and vitamin D supplementation combined can do wonders for reducing abdominal fat, normalizing lipid counts and improving insulin resistance, particularly in type 2 diabetics.
Researchers from Kyung Hee University in Gyeonggi-do randomly assigned 52 elderly women with type 2 diabetes (T2D) to one of four groups: one that supplemented with 1,200 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily, one that joined a circuit training group, one that supplemented with the vitamin D and joined the circuit training group, and another that did nothing but live their normal lives.
The circuit training program was carefully designed to improve both the muscle strength and muscle endurance of the participants. It involved performing a series of respective exercises sequentially, and regularly throughout the three-month period.
At both the beginning and end of the study, researchers measured a variety of health markers including abdominal fat, lipid count, vitamin D status, and fasting insulin and glucose levels, which are markers of insulin resistance. These measures were compared across all four groups to look for similarities and variances.
Using a homeostatic model assessment (HOMA-IR), which quantifies both insulin resistance and beta-cell function, the team observed that those individuals who joined the circuit training group saw major decreases in body weight, fat, body fat percentage, total cholesterol levels and body mass index (BMI). Those in the vitamin D and circuit training group saw even more improvements, including lower fasting insulin and glucose levels.
“It was concluded that the 12 weeks of vitamin D supplementation and circuit training would have positive effects on abdominal fat and blood lipid profiles in T2D and vitamin D deficient elderly women,” wrote the researchers. “Vitamin D supplementation was especially effective when it was complemented with exercise training.”
Since T2D is the type of disease that forms gradually in response to a long pattern of bad eating and lifestyle habits, it can also be gradually undone through dietary and lifestyle changes. According to research compiled by the Vitamin D Council, supplementing with vitamin D is one such lifestyle change that can help improve your body’s ability to manage blood sugar.
Some research suggests that young people who maintain optimal vitamin D levels either through regular exposure to natural sunlight or supplementation with vitamin D3 may reduce their chances of developing T2D later in life. Vitamin D also helps regulate calcium absorption in the body, reducing one’s risk of developing coronary problems.
It is believed that vitamin D helps regulate pancreatic beta-cell function, as well as insulin action and inflammation. Pancreatic beta cells have special receptors that, according to science, only respond or “turn on” when enough vitamin D is present. This is especially important for the type 2 diabetic, whose pancreas isn’t producing insulin properly.
Likewise, insulin production is intertwined with vitamin D, whereby a lack of the latter can lead to decreased insulin sensitivity. By maintaining optimal vitamin D levels between 40 and 50 nanograms per milliliter, you will inadvertently help your body to modulate beta-cell function and improve insulin sensitivity, decreasing your risk of developing metabolic syndrome.
“For people already with T2D, there is some evidence that vitamin D may help improve resistance to insulin, increase sensitivity to insulin, and more effectively control blood sugar levels,” says the Vitamin D Council.
*Image of “runner” via Shutterstock