The genome centric lifestyle and what nutrients our bodies require to maintain our self-healing and self-regulating properties has been the foundation of this blog series to date. Most of the nutrients that our bodies need can be found in the foods that we eat, however, over time, the human species has become deficient in three key essential nutrients. Those being Omega-3’s, Vitamin D and probiotics.
Vitamin D, the focus of this blog post, is a hormone produced in the body via exposure to Ultraviolet B radiation and cannot be produced without exposure to the sun. According to a study done by Vicente et al, well over half of the human population is deficient in Vitamin D. Even those in sunny climates rarely get enough sun exposure due to modern clothing and sunscreen application. It is not necessary to tan or burn your skin to get vitamin D. You only need to expose your skin for around half the time it takes for your skin to turn pink and begin to burn. How much vitamin D is produced from sunlight is dependent on the time of day, where you live in the world and the color of your skin. The more skin you expose the more vitamin D is produced. In short, the amount of vitamin D you get from exposing your bare skin to the sun depends on:
- The time of day – your skin produces more vitamin D if you expose it during the middle of the day.
- Where you live – the closer to the equator you live, the easier it is for you to produce vitamin D from sunlight all year round.
- The color of your skin – pale skins make vitamin D more quickly than darker skins.
- The amount of skin you expose – the more skin your expose the more vitamin D your body will produce.
For more information on Vitamin D and proper exposure visit the Vitamin D council website listed below. As you can see, depending on the color of your skin, where you live in the world and the time of day you are outside, you may be deficient in Vitamin D and require supplementation.
Vitamin D is crucial in virtually every human function, including growth and development, brain and nerve function, emotions and behavior, maintenance and repair of skin and bones, regulation of healing and inflammation, cholesterol levels, digestion, heart function, immune function, vision, vitamin production, digestive system function, cardiovascular health, etc.
According to the Vitamin D Council, conditions associated with Vitamin D deficiency include cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other endocrine diseases, infections and autoimmune disorders, mental health and learning disorders, musculoskeletal disorders, neurological disorders including autism and multiple sclerosis, dental caries and periodontal disease, respiratory diseases such as asthma and allergies, skin disorders, and women’s health issues such as low fertility and PCOS. Phew! And the list goes on!
AUTOIMMUNE AND PAIN
Signs of Vitamin D deficiency are different from person to person, but most include altered moods and/or depression, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, chronic illness, frequent infections. “The active 1,25(OH)2D form of vitamin D is a potent modulator of inflammation, and may play a role in turning off chronic inflammatory response.” Knowing this, Vitamin D should be recommended for anyone and everyone, but especially clients with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, or chronic musculoskeletal pain. Stewart Leavitt, Ph.D. states that “some researchers have found that vitamin D deficiency occurs in up to 85% of chronic musculoskeletal pain cases, especially those involving the lower back.”
Vitamin D-sensitive cancers are responsible for 257,000 deaths in 2007 – 46% of all cancer deaths in the U.S. in 2007 according to Jemal A, et al. Colon cancer could be reduced by 50% with vitamin D levels maintained above 34ng/ml and breast cancer could be reduced by 50% with vitamin D levels maintained at 52ng/ml. Even if cancer runs in your family, you can limit your risk through enlisting a lifestyle of wellness, including, but not limited to, Vitamin D supplementation. It all goes back to the principles of epigenetics – we can determine the expression of a gene via our environment. Every MD, DC, DO, ND, PA, NP, etc. should be recommending vitamin D to each and every one of their clients! It is our responsibility as health care practitioners to give our clients the resources they need in order to prevent disease, not just treat disease following diagnosis. We have to demand better from our health care professionals.
COLD AND FLU PREVENTION
In study performed by Aloia, J et al., taking 800 IU/day of VItamin D reduced the incidence of cold/flu by 70%, and decreased incidences of cold/flu by almost 100% for those taking only 2.000IU/day of Vitamin D. In children taking 1,200IU/day of Vitamin D during the winter time, 67% were less likely to contract Type A influenza.
PREGNANCY AND INFANTS
Women should be supplementing Vitamin D during pregnancy. Vitamin D does not pass the placental barrier well, so it is even more important that the mother be sufficient in Vitamin D. Pregnant women who are sufficient, not only help the direct health of their child, but they also have lower rates of preterm labor, preterm birth and infection, with the greatest effects being when women take 4,000IU daily.
The aggregation of these studies helps show just how important Vitamin D is for the human species. Depending on the color of your skin, where you live in the world and the time of day you are outside may require supplementation. It is involved in just about every process in the body. Having Vitamin D, along with Omega 3’s gets us another step closer to ideal epigenetic fitness.
- Vincente Gilsanz et al. Vitamin D Status and its Relation to Muscles Mass and Muscle Fat in Young Women. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2010
- Stewart Leavitt, Ph. D. Vitamin D – A Neglected ‘Analgesic’ for Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain. Pain Treatment Topics June 2008
- Von Essen, MR et al. Vitamin D controls T cell antigen receptor signaling and activation of human T cells. Nature Immunology 2010, 11, 344-349
- Aloia, J et al. Epidemic Influenza and Vitamin D. Epidemiology and Infection 2007, Vol 135 (7) pp. 1095-1098
- Jemal A, et al. Cancer statistics, 2007. Ca Cancer J. Clin. 2007 Jan- Feb; (1) : 43-66
- Cannell et al. 2008 Cod Liver Oil, Vitamin A Toxicity, Frequent Respiratory Infections, and the Vitamin D Deficiency Epidemic. Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology 117 (11) : 864-870
- Pedersen LB, et al. 1, 25 dihydroxyvitamin D3 reverses experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis by inhibiting chemokine synthesis and monocyte trafficking. J Neurosci Res 2007; 85: 2480-2490.
- Garland CF et al. What is the dose-response relationship between vitamin D and cancer risk? Nutr Rev 2007;65;s91-s95
- Boxer RS, Dauser RA, Walsh SJ, et al. The association between vitamin D and inflammation with the 6- minute walk and frailty in patients with heart failure. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2008;56:454-461.
- Al Faraj S, Al Mutairi K. Vitamin D Deficiency and chronic low back pain in Saudi Arabia. Spine 2003; 28: 177-179.
- Lee P, Chen R. Vitamin D as an analgesic for patients with type 2 diabetes and neuropathic pain. Arch Intern Med. 2008; 168 (7): 771-772.
- Munger, KL, Levin Kl, Hollis BW, et al. Serum 25- hydroxyvitamin D levels and risk of multiple sclerosis. JAMA 2006;296: 2832-2838.
- Wagner CL et al. Vitamin D supplementation during Pregnancy Part 2 NICHD/CTSA Randomized Clinical Trial (RCT): Outcomes. PAS 2010; Abstract 1665.6.