Associations between Vitamin D Status and Type 2 Diabetes Measures among Inuit in Greenland May Be Affected by Other Factors

Nina O Nielsen, Peter Bjerregaard, Pernille F Rønn, Henrik Friis, Stig Andersen, Mads Melbye, Marika Lundqvist, Arieh S Cohen, David M Hougaard, Marit E Jørgensen

23 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: Epidemiological studies have provided evidence of an association between vitamin D insufficiency and type 2 diabetes. Vitamin D levels have decreased among Inuit in Greenland, and type 2 diabetes is increasing. We hypothesized that the decline in vitamin D could have contributed to the increase in type 2 diabetes, and therefore investigated associations between serum 25(OH)D3 as a measure of vitamin D status and glucose homeostasis and glucose intolerance in an adult Inuit population.

METHODS: 2877 Inuit (≥18 years) randomly selected for participation in the Inuit Health in Transition study were included. Fasting- and 2hour plasma glucose and insulin, C-peptide and HbA1c were measured, and associations with serum 25(OH)D3 were analysed using linear and logistic regression. A subsample of 330 individuals who also donated a blood sample in 1987, were furthermore included.

RESULTS: After adjustment, increasing serum 25(OH)D3 (per 10 nmol/L) was associated with higher fasting plasma glucose (0.02 mmol/L, p = 0.004), 2hour plasma glucose (0.05 nmol/L, p = 0.002) and HbA1c (0.39%, p<0.001), and with lower beta-cell function (-1.00 mmol/L, p<0.001). Serum 25(OH)D3 was positively associated with impaired fasting glycaemia (OR: 1.08, p = 0.001), but not with IGT or type 2 diabetes.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results did not support an association between low vitamin D levels and risk of type 2 diabetes. Instead, we found weak positive associations between vitamin D levels and fasting- and 2hour plasma glucose levels, HbA1c and impaired fasting glycaemia, and a negative association with beta-cell function, underlining the need for determination of the causal relationship.

Original languageEnglish
JournalP L o S One
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)e0152763
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2
  • Female
  • Glucose Intolerance
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Greenland
  • Humans
  • Inuits
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prediabetic State
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin D Deficiency
  • Vitamins
  • Young Adult
  • Journal Article
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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