“Dad, what will happen if I don’t take my insulin?”
“You’ll die son.”
That was my personal introduction to type-1 diabetes in children, teaching my then 14-year-old son that his life depended on giving himself insulin injections for the rest of his life. Although I did not know it in 1998, the incidence of type-1 diabetes is steadily increasing in our children, similar to the incidence of autism and asthma, about 3% a year for the last 40 years. Keep in mind that sales figures for sunblock and sunscreen have jumped in this time as well, from $18 million in 1972 to $500 million in 1996 to $800 million in 2009. That is the curves for sunblock sales and the incidence of autism, asthma, and autoimmune disorders are parallel.
Last month, a group from Oslo University Hospital led by Dr. Ingvild Sorensen and colleagues, published a well conducted study showing that pregnant women with the highest vitamin D levels were twice as likely to have children that remained free of type-1 diabetes all the way up to 15 years of age at the end of the study.
I feel likely that this finding is understated because Norway is a cod liver oil country and some of the pregnant women undoubtedly gulped down, in my opinion, toxic cod liver oil. Studies show Americans take in much more vitamin A than needed and that vitamin A blocks the vitamin D receptor. If so, cod liver oil would have masked her results, and they would be more robust than they were.
Although no one knows for sure, scientists think that when vitamin A is present in excess, instead of vitamin A binding to activated vitamin D and stimulating the receptor, two vitamin A molecules bind to each other and block the receptor. Remember, this is much more a problem when you are vitamin D deficient.
No one knows the proper ratio of vitamin D/vitamin A. All we know is that Americans get way too much A and way to little D. What role vitamin A excess had in Dr. Sorensen’s study I don’t know, but I do know I wish I had learned about vitamin D in 1997, in time to try and prevent my son’s autoimmune diabetes. However, he is doing very well, unlike many young people in his vitamin D deficient generation.