Vitamin D Deficiency: The Cause of Many Chronic Diseases
A vitamin is an essential nutrient that must be obtained from food. However, with Vitamin D, this is not the case. Our bodies produce it. Only ten percent of the vitamin D needed by the body comes from food, such as oily fish like sardines and tuna, egg yolks, liver and beef. The remaining ninety percent is manufactured by the body itself.
Through a chemical reaction, the body transforms the Ultraviolet rays of the sunlight into Vitamin D. It enters the blood and is then processed twice, first by the liver and then the kidneys. At that point, it becomes activated as a hormone called calcitriol. Regardless of its hormonal status, the term Vitamin D is still used.
The Bone Building Function:
Vitamin D Sufficiency and Deficiency
Vitamin D protects bones in two ways. First, it helps your body absorb calcium. Second, it supports your muscles. Protecting the muscles – and reducing risks from falls is especially important to the elderly. Vitamin D keeps calcium levels at an optimal level. If calcium intake is insufficient, or vitamin D is low, the calcium will be leeched from the bones to keep the blood calcium in the normal range.
Vitamin D Deficiency and Its Immune System Function
In cases of Vitamin D deficiencies, there’s an increased risk of both autoimmunity and infection. In a study of 19,000 individuals, people with lower levels of Vitamin D were more likely to self-report a recent upper respiratory tract infection.
A negative response of the immune system is inflammation. But Vitamin D plays a significant role in altering inflammation and bringing it to a desired level. This is highly significant in preventing the development of autoimmune disease, and in taming an inflamed microbiome. The beneficial effects of supplementing for individuals deficient in Vitamin D applies to so much more than just bone health.
Other Adverse Consequences of Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency is a US and global epidemic. Suboptimal levels are associated with a large array of chronic diseases.
It’s been shown that vitamin D is significant in the development of the brain, as well as brain function and regulation. Adequate Vitamin D levels promote a healthy nervous system. Vitamin D deficiency is frequently found in patients with anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, insomnia and brain fog. It’s associated with cognitive decline in older adults.
Cardiovascular Disorders / Stroke
Studies have shown a strong association between Vitamin D insufficiency and risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension and ischemic stroke (when a blood clots blocks an artery).
Low levels of Vitamin D have been associated with metabolic syndrome, Type2 Diabetes, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis and IBD.
VITAMIN D AND THE MICROBIOME
Deficiency Creates an Altered Microbiome
Vitamin D regulates GI inflammation. Low levels would indicate a greater likelihood of inflammation. Research shows that individuals with higher serum levels of Vitamin D have a lower incidence of IBD, Colitis. Crohn’s. Scientists conducting these studies suggest Vitamin D supplementation as an adjunctive treatment in IBD. Vitamin D deficiency is closely associated with obesity — an established risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Vitamin D Deficiency in the Gut Creates Vitamin B Deficiency
Many suggest that the microbiome is the primary source of Vitamin B. Almost all B vitamins are sourced both from food and simultaneously manufactured by a healthy gut. However, Vitamin B5 cannot be sourced from food. And so, when alterations in the gut occur the resulting deficit in B5 is powerful, as Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, is one of the most important vitamins for human life. It’s necessary for making blood cells, and it helps convert food into energy.
The Ethnicity Paradox
It would be natural to assume that the darker your skin, the more protection you have from Vitamin D deficiency and its damages. However, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), Melanin — responsible for skin pigmentation — competes with the vitamin D in our skin for UVB absorption. Paradoxically, those with more melanin in their skin produce less Vitamin D through sun exposure than lighter skin people and are therefore at an increased risk for Vitamin D deficiency.
- The further away from the equator you live, the greater risk of low levels of this vitamin.
- Other lifestyle factors include a higher incidence for those living indoor lifestyles
This hormone called Vitamin D is a critical element in bone health, immune system function and in microbiome health. Deficiency of Vitamin D is intricately involved in many dysfunctions of the body and brain — especially distressing as low levels are widespread, globally.
Some of the many chronic diseases that result from low levels of this unique Vitamin (Hormone) can be ameliorated with supplementation. Other diseases can be helped by Functional and Microbiome Medicine. Regardless, there’s hope. But first, we need to know your Vitamin D levels. I am not alone amongst scientists who recommend annual Vitamin D exams, coupled with adequate intake of sunlight and greater awareness of the consequences.
Fifteen minutes of sun exposure per day is recommended for most people. Those with fair skin need to protect from skin cancer by limiting sun exposure to ten minutes or less.
As always, my wish for you is the very best of health and the prevention of disease.
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