Richard G. Petty, MD

Calcium, Vitamin D, Diabetes and Schizophrenia

There are some odd puzzles in medicine. For more than 100 years it has been known that diabetes is more common in people suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and probably also depression. There has also been data indicating that some children with ADD and autism have metabolic disturbances that may underlie some of the cognitive difficulties. It has also been observed in Europe that dark skinned immigrants – whose skin coloring makes them less able to make Vitamin D – are more likely to develop diabetes. Some dark skinned immigrants are also far more likely to develop schizophrenia compared with their families that stayed in sunny tropical regions. Children – particularly boys – who are breastfed and/or have Vitamin D supplements in the first year of life are less likely to develop schizophrenia in later life. Vitamin D is not only involved in calcium absorption, but also in maintaining the integrity of cell membranes. So the link between diabetes and schizophrenia may have something to do with Vitamin D.

A new study just published in the journal Diabetes Care indicates that women with high intakes of vitamin D and calcium appear to have a lower risk of developing type 2 (maturity onset) diabetes. The study from Tufts-New England Medical Center looked at data on 83,779 women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study. The women had no history of diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancer when they enrolled in the study. Vitamin D and calcium intake from foods and from supplements were evaluated every 2 to 4 years. Over the 20 years of follow-up a total of 4843 new cases of diabetes were discovered. The lowest risk of diabetes was observed among women with the highest combined intakes of calcium and vitamin D compared with those with the lowest.

These are important findings, because interventions to raise both vitamin D and calcium intake and quick, cheap and easy, and may significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

So how much should we take? Although we should be able to make enough of our own Vitamin D by spending even ten minutes in the sun, not everyone can do that, the sun is not without its risks, and the mechanisms for making Vitamin D become less effective as we become older. Though a balanced diet should also help provide some vitamin D and enough calcium, the data indicates that we should take in at least 1200mg of calcium each day, and 400 International Units (10 micrograms) Vitamin D each day. It is possible, though uncommon for people to take too much Vitamin D, and that can have all manner of health consequences.

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About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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