D*action Type 1 Diabetes Prevention Project – Call to Action

An increasing body of evidence has shown that chronic inflammation can cause or advance many common chronic diseases (1), with higher levels of cellular inflammation indicating a greater risk of the development of and/or accelerated progression towards chronic disease.  Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) is one of the diseases that are highly affected by inflammation (2,3).

It is known that progression to many forms of diabetes, including T1D, can be predicted by measuring levels of inflammation.  Research has also shown that vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids are both anti-inflammatory (4,5), therefore, progression of T1D could be predicted by measuring levels of inflammation using such blood spot tests as 25(OH)D (6,7,8) and the ratio of AA:EPA (9).  48 international vitamin D researchers have recommended a vitamin D serum level of 40-60 ng/ml (100-150 nmol/L) for the prevention of many chronic diseases, while a AA:EPA ratio of <3 is a target for the most reduced rates of chronic inflammation.

Numerous studies show that intake of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids reduces inflammation (10,11).  A number of health conditions related to low vitamin D have also been correlated to low levels of omega-3 fatty acids (12-21).  Anecdotal evidence suggests a role of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids in possibly reversing or stopping this progression. (5,22)   Epidemiologic studies show that children given Cod Liver Oil, which contains both vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids have significantly reduced rates of diagnosis of T1D. (23,24,25).

Incidence of Type 1 Diabetes Rises 3-5% Each Year (26)

Omega-3s are often found in foods that are also naturally high in vitamin D (such as fatty fish).  There is very little research available on the combined effect of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acid intake and resulting blood levels on specific health outcomes.  Incorporating omega-3 education and testing (using omega-3 status testing such as the ratio of AA:EPA (27,28) along with vitamin D education and testing will help shed light on such a combined effect.  It will also allow us to study levels of both nutrients independent of consumption since the effect of intake on blood status will vary from person to person, and it may take different doses to reduce inflammation if a person has a diet high in AA.  The ratio of omega-6 (pro-inflammatory) to omega-3 (anti-inflammatory) fatty acids in humans has changed from 1:1 to 20-30:1 over time (4,29,30).

This study sub-set will help identify potential changes in the progression towards a T1D diagnosis that may result from nutrient status testing and education of both vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as provide additional education about islet autoantibodies, inflammation and anti- and pro-inflammatory foods, and other T1D related information.



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  15. Souied EH, Delcourt C, Querques G, Bassols A, Merle B, Zourdani A, Smith T, Benlian P. Oral Docosahexaenoic Acid in the Prevention of Exudative Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Ophthalmology. 2013 Aug;120(8):1619-31.
  16. Luxwolda MF, Kuipers RS, Boersma ER, van Goor SA, Dijck-Brouwer DA, Bos AF, Muskiet FA. DHA status is positively related to motor development in breastfed African and Dutch infants. Nutr Neurosci. 2014 Apr;17(3):97-103.
  17. Bisgaard H, Stokholm J, Chawes BL, Vissing NH, Bjarnadóttir E, Schoos AM, Wolsk HM, Pedersen TM, Vinding RK, Thorsteinsdóttir S, Følsgaard NV, Fink NR, Thorsen J, Pedersen AG, Waage J, Rasmussen MA, Stark KD, Olsen SF, Bønnelykke K. Fish Oil–Derived Fatty Acids in Pregnancy and Wheeze and Asthma in Offspring. N Engl J Med. 2016 Dec 29;375(26):2530-9.
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  21. Stene LC1Joner G, Norwegian Childhood Diabetes Study Group; Use of cod liver oil during the first year of life is associated with lower risk of childhood-onset type 1 diabetes: a large, population based, case-controlled study. Am J Clin Nutr 2003;78(6):1128-1134.
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