Jewels Doskicz is a registered nurse, freelance writer, patient advocate, health coach, and long-distance cyclist. Jewels is the moderator of Diabetic Connect’s weekly #DCDE Twitter chat, and she and her daughter both live healthfully with type 1 diabetes.

It's plain and simple—vitamin D levels have direct effects on our health and immunity.

Many people grappling with diabetes and other autoimmune diseases have chronically low vitamin D levels. Studies link these low levels to autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and lupus.

The question remains: could vitamin D prevent the onset of certain autoimmune diseases? Research is pointing in that direction.

Where is vitamin D found?

Vitamin D is found in a small grouping of foods including fortified milk, eggs, fish, and cod liver oil. The sun also aids in the daily production of vitamin D by the body; and catching a few rays is easier for most of us than swallowing cod liver oil.

Some postulate that our intense focus on using sunscreen is inhibiting our natural production of vitamin D, and increasing disease potential.

Why is vitamin D so important?

Vitamin D helps to maintain blood levels of phosphorous and calcium. If you have low vitamin D levels, your practitioner will most likely initiate vitamin D and calcium supplements to build and strengthen your bones.

According to Appetite for Health: "Vitamin D is known to help regulate—directly or indirectly—some 2,000 genes that control everything from immunity, programmed cell death and even appetite regulation. … Vitamin D appears to act like a surveillance mechanism for overall health.”

How do you test for vitamin D levels?

Vitamin D levels are obtained through a simple blood test. Ask your healthcare provider if you've ever been tested for a vitamin D level.

To learn more about this topic:
What Vitamins Do Diabetics Need?
"Mental Vitamin D:" Dr. Gary's Tips for Relaxation, Happiness
Do Diabetics Need Vitamins? Not So Fast