Surprising Health Benefits of Vitamin D

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Despite its name, vitamin D is not really a vitamin, but a powerful neuroregulatory steroidal hormone, which offers multiple health benefits.

Researchers keep emphasizing the importance of appropriate sun exposure as the best way to optimize the levels of vitamin D in the body.

However, during the winter, it would be best to use artificial UVB light, as it has been found that UV ray exposure also offers many health benefits above and beyond the production of this vitamin. Moreover, you should also try to obtain it from your diet.

One of the biggest flaws of standard tanning beds are the magnetic ballasts. In case an electronic ballast is used, there are far less damaging EMFs, which are highly dangerous. Plus, the bulbs might contain only UVA light which provides the tan but does not raise the levels of vitamin D.

The UVB exposure from the sun or artificial light produces nitric oxide, which is a compound that reduces blood pressure.

Deficiency of this critical vitamin has been found to be the main culprit for the development of numerous health problems, and its correction reduces the risk of dying from any cause by 50%. This vitamin actually affects around 3,000 of your 24,000 genes via its receptors, which can be found throughout the entire body.

It regulates the ability to fight infections and chronic inflammation. Plus, it produces more than 200 anti-microbial peptides, including cathelicidin, which is a naturally occurring broad-spectrum antibiotic. This explains its property to prevent flu and colds.

As reported in the January 2013 press release by Orthomolecular Medicine, there is a mountain of research, 33,800 medical papers to be concrete, containing vitamin D in the title or abstract, which indicates its various benefits concerning our overall health.

Research has proved that vitamin D is extremely helpful in the case of:

  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Bacterial and viral infections
  • Type 1 and 2 diabetes
  • Autism, Alzheimer’s, and other brain dysfunction
  • Pregnancy outcomes (lower risk of Cesarean section and pre-eclampsia)

Numerous studies have shown that vitamin D improves depression, diabetes, and soothes pain due to breast cancer, and Crohn’s disease.

Researchers have found that increasing the levels of this vitamin improve the symptoms of Crohn’s disease, one recent study found a “significant interaction between vitamin D levels and Crohn’s disease susceptibility, as well as a significant association between vitamin D levels and genotype.”

Patients were found to have significantly reduced serum vitamin D levels.

Researchers analyzed 7  DNA sequence variations, and two of them showed a strong link between vitamin D levels in those with Crohn’s, and four variants were found to be related to vitamin D levels among controls.

This indicates that vitamin D influences genetic expression associated with Crohn’s disease, and while its deficiency can aggravate the symptoms, its correction improves them.

Scientists have also found that vitamin D supplementation lowers pain and depression in diabetic women. PsychCentral explains:

“The investigators set out to determine how vitamin D supplementation might affect women with type 2 diabetes who were also suffering from depression.

At the beginning of the study, 61 percent of women reported neuropathic pain, such as shooting or burning pain in their legs and feet, and 74 percent had sensory pain, such as numbness and tingling in their hands, fingers, and legs.

During the course of the study, the participants took a 50,000 IU vitamin D2 supplement every week for 6 months. By the end of the study, the women’s depression levels had significantly improved following the supplementation.

Furthermore, participants who suffered from neuropathic and/or sensory pain at the beginning of the study reported that these symptoms decreased at 3 and 6 months following vitamin D2 supplementation.”

The lead researcher Todd Doyle, Ph.D. claims that vitamin D supplementation “is a promising treatment for both pain and depression in type 2 diabetes.”

Yet, you should choose D3 over D2, as in the long term, it might do more harm than good.

Drisdol is a synthetic form of vitamin D2, which is often prescribed by doctors. It is made by irradiating fungus and plant matter and is far from D3, the type our bodies produce in response to the sun or safe tanning bed exposure.

A 2012 meta-analysis by the Cochrane Database, analyzed the mortality rates for two groups of people, the first supplemented their diets with D2, and the second with D3.

Researchers found great differences between the groups. They evaluated the findings of 50 randomized controlled trials, which involved a total of 94,000 participants, and found that:

  • A 2% relative risk increase among those who used D2
  • A 6% relative risk reduction among those who used vitamin D3

This shows the importance of vitamin D in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Moreover, research has shown that almost  60 percent of type 2 diabetics lack this vitamin.

Another study has shown that there is “a strong additive interaction between abdominal obesity and insufficient 25(OH)D in regard to insulin resistance.”

Researchers maintain that 47 percent of the increased risks of insulin resistance are due to the interaction between insufficient vitamin D levels and a high body mass index (BMI).

Diabetes Care published another study which showed that vitamin D supplements help in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus in people with pre-diabetes.

Participants who had the highest vitamin D levels had a 30 percent lower risk to develop diabetes during the three-year evaluation period.

Furthermore, a recent Science World Report emphasized the recommendation by British breast cancer surgeon, Professor Kefah Mokbel, who suggests that women should take daily vitamin D supplements to reduce their risk of breast cancer. The featured article said:

“Prof. Mokbel has also requested Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, to make [vitamin D] pills freely available as this would result in saving about a 1,000 lives annually.

‘I am calling for all women from the age of 20 to be given free vitamin D supplements on the NHS because it is effective in protecting against breast cancer,’ Prof. Mokbel said.

…Research conducted by the Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska, which analyzed menopausal women from rural eastern Nebraska for over four years, revealed that taking vitamin D supplements along with calcium cut about 60 percent risk of cancer, including breast, lung and colon cancer…

’It’s inexpensive, it’s safe, and it’s easy to take. It’s something that should be considered by a lot of people,’ says Joan Lappe, professor of nursing and medicine at Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska. ‘It’s low-risk with maybe a payoff.’”

Researchers have also proven that vitamin D is extremely successful in preventing different cancers, including prostate, pancreatic, breast, lung, ovarian, and skin cancers. Over 200 epidemiological studies and 2,500 laboratory tests have confirmed the link between vitamin D deficiency and cancer.

The American Journal of Preventive Medicine published a 2007 study which found that a serum 25(OH)D level of more than 33 ng/mL led to a 50 percent lower risk of colorectal cancer.

The International Journal of Cancer published a research two years ago which showed that a mere 10 ng/ml increase in serum vitamin D levels caused a 15 percent reduction in colorectal cancer incidence and 11 percent reduction in breast cancer incidence.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a 2007 study which lasted for 4 years, and found a 77% lower cancer-free survival rate in women who received 1,100 IU vitamin D and 1,450 mg calcium daily, compared to those who received only calcium or a placebo.

Carole Baggerly, the founder of GrassrootsHealth, states that 90 percent of ordinary breast cancer might be a result of vitamin D deficiency. Breast cancer has been depicted as a “vitamin D deficiency syndrome,” similarly to the common cold and seasonal flu.

Yet, the most important thing is to maintain a therapeutically beneficial serum level year-round. Scientists believe that the bare minimum for cancer prevention is about 40 ng/ml, while the ideal levels are from 60-80 ng/ml.

As stated in a 2009 review article titled “Vitamin D for Cancer Prevention: Global Perspective,” published in Annals of Epidemiology states:

“Higher serum levels of the main circulating form of vitamin D, 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), are associated with substantially lower incidence rates of colon, breast, ovarian, renal, pancreatic, aggressive prostate and other cancers.

Epidemiological findings combined with newly discovered mechanisms suggest a new model of cancer etiology that accounts for these actions of 25(OH)D and calcium.

Its seven phases are disjunction, initiation, natural selection, overgrowth, metastasis, involution, and transition (abbreviated DINOMIT). Vitamin D metabolites prevent disjunction of cells and are beneficial in other phases.

It is projected that raising the minimum year-around serum 25(OH)D level to 40 to 60 ng/mL (100–150 nmol/L) would prevent approximately 58,000 new cases of breast cancer and 49,000 new cases of colorectal cancer each year, and three fourths of deaths from these diseases in the United States and Canada, based on observational studies combined with a randomized trial.

Such intakes also are expected to reduce case-fatality rates of patients who have breast, colorectal, or prostate cancer by half… The time has arrived for nationally coordinated action to substantially increase intake of vitamin D and calcium.”

GrassrootsHealth research suggests that adults need about 8,000 IUs daily to achieve a serum level of 40 ng/ml.

Hence, make sure you enjoy the sun whenever possible. You should also take supplements, and do not forget to increase the vitamin K2 levels daily as well.

Remember to test your vitamin D serum level every six months, in order to maintain a clinically relevant serum level of 50-70 ng/ml during the entire year. Make these tests once at your highest point, which is typically August, and again at your lowest point, usually in February.

It has been scientifically proven that this vitamin plays an essential role in the prevention of numerous diseases, as it affects even 3,000 of the 30,000 genes in the body, as well as the vitamin D receptors.

If you manage to maintain optimized levels of vitamin D, you can successfully prevent at least 16 different cancer types, including skin, prostate, pancreatic, lung, and ovarian cancer.

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