People who get plenty of vitamin D can cut their chance of developing Type 2 diabetes by 55 per cent.
Researchers from the Warwick Medical School reviewed 28 existing studies on almost 100,000 people looking at vitamin D levels among middle-aged and elderly people. They also found high levels of vitamin D reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by 33 per cent.
Sunshine brings risks too
Around 90 per cent of our vitamin D comes from sunshine and experts warn that people should be sensible about sun exposure – 30 minutes twice a week on the face and arms with no sunscreen is the maximum safe exposure for adults and children.
Clinical research needed to assess long-term benefits
"The study suggests that there is a link between higher levels of vitamin D and lower risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease," said Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Diabetes UK.
"However, it does not show that vitamin D levels are a direct cause of these reductions in risk. Diabetes UK would be very interested to see results of clinical research following people over a period of time to establish the long-term beneficial effects of increased levels of vitamin D.
Help reduce your risk of diabetes
"What we do know is that an unhealthy lifestyle, having a large waist or being overweight can cause Type 2 diabetes.
"Diabetes UK recommends that people should eat a healthy, balanced diet low in fat, sugar and salt, and do at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day to reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes."
The research was published in the journal Maturitas.