The Effect of Vitamin D Supplementation on Insulin Sensitivity: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Diabetes Care. 2020 Jul;43(7):1659-1669. doi: 10.2337/dc19-2265.


Background: Vitamin D has been suggested to affect peripheral insulin sensitivity. Evidence regarding the effect of vitamin D supplementation on insulin sensitivity is still conflicting.

Purpose: This meta-analysis aimed to assess the effect of vitamin D supplementation on insulin sensitivity in humans with or at risk for insulin resistance.

Data sources and study selection: PubMed, Web of Science, Embase, CINAHL, and Cochrane Library were systematically searched for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) from 1980 until 31 December 2018 reporting treatment effects of vitamin D supplementation on insulin sensitivity.

Data extraction: The main outcome of interest was the change in insulin sensitivity, derived from the gold standard hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp or the Matsuda index derived from the oral glucose tolerance test and insulin sensitivity index from intravenous glucose tolerance test. We extracted data on the standardized mean difference between the vitamin D treatment and placebo groups in change from baseline insulin sensitivity.

Data synthesis: Eighteen RCTs were included in this meta-analysis comparing vitamin D supplementation (n = 612) with placebo (n = 608). Vitamin D supplementation had no effect on insulin sensitivity (standardized mean difference -0.01, 95% CI -0.12, 0.10; P = 0.87, I 2 = 0%). Visual inspection of funnel plot symmetry did not suggest potential publication bias.

Limitations: The number of individuals who participated in the included studies was relatively small, possibly due to the invasive character of the measurement (e.g., clamp).

Conclusions: This meta-analysis provides no evidence that vitamin D supplementation has a beneficial effect on peripheral insulin sensitivity in people with or at risk for insulin resistance.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Insulin Secretion / drug effects
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / drug effects
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / statistics & numerical data
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin D / pharmacology
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / diet therapy*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / metabolism
  • Young Adult


  • Insulin
  • Vitamin D