Vitamin A may help treat type 2 diabetes and prevent heart complications

Fat-soluble vitamin A, which is key to a healthy immune system and strong vision, may also help battle type 2 diabetes, according to a new study.

Retinoic acid (RA), a derivative of vitamin A, can potentially slow the process of obesity and prevent cardiovascular complications that are often present in people who have type 2 diabetes. The animal study showed that RA helped to stimulate the expression of cardio-protective genes while changing the way the body stores fat.

"Blood glucose, insulin resistance, body weight, and adipocyte size were significantly decreased in treated animals, including abdominal fat, while dietary intake and physical activity were similar for treated or non-treated animals," said study author Daniel-Constantin Manolescu. "This suggests an increase in basal energy expenditure."

Vitamin A helps to create 'good' fat

Brown fat, which is often referred to as the "good" fat, helps to increase metabolism and burn white fat – which is alternatively called the "bad" fat.

RA helps to "guide" early forming fat cells to become brown instead of white, the research team explained at the Annual Conference of the Canadian Nutrition Society in Saint John's, Newfoundland.

"It is as if 'boilers' were installed directly in reserves of white fat to melt it on the spot and prevent it from over-accumulating," a press release on the study stated.

Researchers concluded that understanding how RA acts on the liver, fat, muscles and heart could lead to the development of new anti-obesity and anti-diabetic medicines.

The study is published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism .

Source: Universite de Montreal

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