It is hard not to write a book when discussing the health benefits of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is not a vitamin, but actually a hormone. It is used in metabolic processes throughout the body and effects over 200 different genes. There are over 2500 studies stating its physiological impacts throughout the body.
How does Vitamin D help my health?
Supplementation with Vitamin D helped:
- Supporting immune function against pathogenic load
- Improving depression by neurotransmitter modulation
- Enhancement of secretion and action of insulin
- Improving bone mineral density and reducing cardiovascular risk (along with vitamin K) by controlling calcium levels
- Improving detoxification mechanisms
- to name a few….
According to Dr. J. Moss, “… high serum 25(OH)D level in response to vitamin D supplementation may be just a marker for the presence of other health-promoting biochemical capabilities”, supporting the fact that supplementation with Vitamin D3 may have additional health benefits that we have yet to uncover.
Vitamin D helps modulate immune function
Over 200 of those studies focused on its ability to modulate the immune system. Let’s review two:
The fight against cancer
- A group of about 1,100 post-menopausal women started out with no cancer. One group got [oral] vitamin D [and calcium] and the other group received a placebo. At the end of four years, there was a 77 percent difference in cancer incidence between those that had the vitamin D and calcium versus the placebo.
- Optimizing your vitamin D levels could help you to prevent at least 16 different types of cancer including pancreatic, lung, ovarian, prostate, and skin cancers.
- Some 600,000 cases of breast and colorectal cancers alone could be prevented each year if vitamin D levels among populations worldwide were increased according to epidemiologist Dr. Cedric Garland, professor of family and preventive medicine at the UC San Diego School of Medicine.
- A large-scale, randomized, placebo-controlled study on vitamin D and cancer showed that vitamin D can cut overall cancer risk by as much as 60 percent. This was such groundbreaking news that the Canadian Cancer Society has actually begun endorsing the vitamin as a cancer-prevention therapy.
As viral load is extremely relevant due to Coronavirus pandemic, Vitamin D helps modulate methylation and NFkB activity to limit inflammation and help stop viral replication.
Stimulation of the vitamin D receptor protects against respiratory viral infections by decreasing inflammation in lung tissue. Vitamin D helps improve an antiviral response, while its deficiency may cause an increase in both the risk and occurrence in respiratory tract infections. Additionally, Vitamin D helps support bacterial “secondary” infections created through inflammation and viral induced nutrient deficiencies.
Data has shown that viral infections seem to wane in the summer. Is it virus response to environmental factor such as temperature or humidity? There is a hypothesis that our immune system is lowered in colder months because we don’t see the sun as much. And sunlight helps generate Vitamin D. Higher D stores, potentially greater immunity.
How can I test my Vitamin D levels?
Fortunately, blood testing for Vitamin D3 is now a commonly run test and has become very affordable.
Researchers state that the current RDA of this nutrient is way too low and that optimal levels should be maintained between 60-80ng/dL.
If you have an autoimmune condition, please also consider having your 1,25 di-OH Vitamin D levels tested as well.
How should I supplement with Vitamin D?
It is estimated that 85 percent of Americans have insufficient levels of vitamin D and may need to supplement. Personally, we see levels of less than 20ng/dL in many of our new clients. Many folks have low status even if they spend a lot of time in the sun,
Optimal intake may be somewhere around 2000-5000IU per day depending on the individual. It is also important to note that there are a few individuals who have genetic issues or autoimmunity which may require larger than normal amounts of this nutrient.
Acute infections might also temporarily warrant higher amounts, but Vitamin D is fat soluble and can build up in the body which may negatively affect calcium levels. Please refer to Linus Pauling Nutrition Institute for symptoms of toxicity.
Make sure that you take it with a meal for best absorption. For those who choose to supplement with cod liver or fish oil, care must be taken to insure that they have the ability to breakdown fats effectively in order to absorb this key nutrient. Emulsified forms are available for those who are unable to processed oil-based formulations. In addition, Vitamin K is being added to many supplements since it may be synergistic.