Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Depression, Pain, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, And Breast Cancer

Appropriate sun exposure is very important as an ideal way of maximizing vitamin D levels in your body, but you do not seem to realize this.

But, for much of the northern hemisphere, the winter limits sun exposure of the inhabitants for up to 6 months of the year, so vitamin D production is not possible from the sun during the winter months.

During this long period, you may subject yourself to artificial UVB light, as UV ray exposure appears to help synthesize vitamin D in your body.

However, one of the most damaging elements of standard ‘tanning beds’ or solariums are the magnetic ballasts (they make that loud buzzing noise you hear in many tanning salons) which provide most of the danger from tanning beds. So, if electronic ballast is used instead, there are far less damaging electro-magnetic fields.

The other worry is linked to the light bulbs used, as some may contain only UVA light, which is primarily responsible for the tan, but does not increase vitamin D levels.  Hence, you must use artificial UVB light or obtain vitamin D from your diet during this time.

The benefits of exposure of your body to the sun or to artificial UVA light also include production of nitric oxide—a compound that lowers your blood pressure. Despite its name, vitamin D is not actually a vitamin. In fact, it is a potent neuro-regulatory steroidal hormone, which helps explain some of its health impacts.  

It has become gruesomely clear that vitamin D deficiency is a growing epidemic across the world and could be contributing to hundreds of common health issues. Correcting your vitamin D deficiency may cut your risk of untimely death by 50%, according to one analysis.

If you are not convinced, consider that vitamin D influences nearly 3,000 of around 30,000 genes in your body . This occurs by way of vitamin D receptors, which can be found all over your body. This detail should come as no great surprise given the fact that humans are the ‘children of the sun’ (that is they evolved in the sun)!

Your genes benefit greatly from vitamin D

An important gene that vitamin D up-regulates is your ability to fight infections and chronic inflammation. It also produces over 200 anti-microbial peptides, the most important of which is cathelicidin, a naturally-occurring broad-spectrum antibiotic. This is one of the reasons why vitamin D is so effective against colds and the flu.

According to a January 2013 press release by Orthomolecular Medicine, there are now 33,800 medical papers with vitamin D in the title or abstract. This trustworthy pile of research shows that vitamin D has far-reaching benefits for your body and mental health. They include:

  • diabetes Type 1 and 2
  • pregnancy outcomes (reduced risk of Cesarean section and pre-eclampsia)
  • heart disease and stroke
  • autism, Alzheimer’s, and other brain dysfunction
  • bacterial and viral infections   

Importance of vitamin D in Crohn’s disease

While previous research has associated low vitamin D levels with an increased risk of Crohn’s disease, and aslo shown that correcting your vitamin D deficiency can improve symptoms of the disease, one of the most recent studies found a “significant interaction between vitamin D levels and Crohn’s disease susceptibility, and a significant connection between vitamin D levels and genotype.”

This shows that vitamin D can affect genetic expression associated with Crohn’s disease, and make matters either better or worse, depending on whether you have enough of it or not.

Vitamin D may reduce pain and depression  

In related news, vitamin D supplementation has been found to reduce both pain and depression in diabetic women.

According to lead researcher Todd Doyle, Ph.D., vitamin D supplementation “is a promising treatment for both pain and depression in type 2 diabetes.” However, you’d probably get even better results using vitamin D3 rather than prescription D2. In fact, previous research suggests that vitamin D2 might do more harm than good in the long run!

Vitamin D3 over D2

The synthetic form of vitamin D2 called drisdol  (made by irradiating fungus and plant matter) is the form of vitamin D typically prescribed by doctors. This is not the type produced by your body in response to sun or safe tanning bed exposure, which is vitamin D3.

According to a 2012 meta-analysis by the Cochrane Database, which assessed mortality rates for people who supplemented their diets with D2 versus those who did so with D3, there are significant differences in outcome between the two. The analysis of 50 randomized controlled trials, which included a total of 94,000 participants, showed:

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

More scholar support for the theory that vitamin D can be beneficial in the fight against type 2 diabetes was published last year.  Here, the researchers found “a strong additive interaction between abdominal obesity and insufficient 25(OH)D in regard to insulin resistance.” They also claim 47% of the increased odds of insulin resistance can be explained by the interaction between insufficient vitamin D levels and a high body mass index (BMI).

Yet, another study published in Diabetes Care implies that vitamin D supplements may help prevent type 2 diabetes mellitus in people with pre-diabetes. While the study is only an observational one and cannot establish causality, the researchers report that the participants who had the highest vitamin D levels were 30% less likely to develop diabetes during the three-year evaluation period.

Lower your breast cancer risk with Vitamin D

A recent Science World Report highlighted the recommendation by the British breast cancer surgeon, professor Kefah Mokbel, who urges women to take daily vitamin D supplements to cut their risk of breast cancer.

According to the featured article 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.

Vitamin D is announced critical for cancer prevention

Vitamin D has tremendous protective effects against a variety of different cancers, including: lung, ovarian, breast, pancreatic, prostate, and skin cancers.

Theories linking vitamin D deficiency to cancer have been tested and confirmed in more than 200 epidemiological studies, and understanding of its physiological basis stems from more than 2,500 laboratory trials.

A 2007 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine concluded that a serum 25(OH)D level of more than 33 ng/mL was associated with a 50% lower risk of colorectal cancer.

Then, a research published in the International Journal of Cancer (2 years ago) found that a mere 10 ng/ml increase in serum vitamin D levels was associated with a 15% reduction in colorectal cancer incidence and 11% reduction in breast cancer incidence.

Try to maintain optimal vitamin D serum levels

Of utmost importance is the maintenance of a therapeutically beneficial serum level year-round. Studies indicate that the bare minimum for cancer prevention is around 40 ng/ml. An ideal level might be 60-80 ng/ml.

The 2009 review, titled “Vitamin D for Cancer Prevention: Global Perspective,” published in Annals of Epidemiology, states that: “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.”

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To sum up, a growing body of evidence shows that vitamin D plays a crucial role in disease prevention and maintaining optimal health. According to one large-scale study, optimal Vitamin D levels can slash your risk of cancer by as much as 60%. Keeping your levels optimized can help prevent at least 16 different types of cancer, including, lung, breast, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, and skin cancer.

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Sources:
Orthomolecular Medicine
Cochrane Database

Diabetes Care
American Journal of Preventive Medicine
International Journal of Cancer