Hidden Secrets of Vitamin D
It is estimated that one billion people worldwide have a vitamin D deficiency. While this deficiency is mainly thought to be due to insufficient sun exposure, in some cases it is linked to a poor diet. There is a growing body of evidence relating to the importance of vitamin D. As well as being a well-known risk factor for rickets, vitamin D deficiency also increases an individual's susceptibility to autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS), type 1 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as certain cancers, and even dementia.
Fundamental Functions of Vitamin D
Vitamin D performs many functions that most people are not aware of. Vitamin D3 is vital for gene expression, immune system function, and bone strength. Vitamin D3 has two forms: Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3. The most beneficial form of Vitamin D is the D3.
Vitamin D’s Function in Gene Expression
Gene expression is the process by which the information from a gene is used in the synthesis of a functional gene product. At a cellular level Vitamin D3 is at work to stabilize a healthy endocrine system. The term endocrine relates to hormones, which are essential chemical messengers throughout the body that aid in many bodily functions. Recent research labels Vitamin D3 as a steroid-based hormone, or pre-hormone, and not an actual “vitamin." Natural body steroids (like testosterone and estrogen) help to process hormone functions which allow the body to communicate properly. Vitamin D is related to gene expression because it is considered a hormone precursor, which helps many chemical body reactions to occur. For example recent studies suggest that Vitamin D3 influences 10% of gene expression. Scientists have mapped the points at which vitamin D interacts (binds) with our DNA, and it is currently shown to influence over 200 genes.
Vitamin D Aids the Immune System
Scientists at the University of Copenhagen have found that vitamin D is crucial to activating our immune system’s defenses. Without sufficient intake of vitamin D, T cells — the germ killing cells of the immune system — will not be able to react to and fight off serious infections in the body. The research team found that T cells first search for vitamin D in order to activate themselves, and if they cannot find enough Vitamin D will not complete the activation process.
Vitamin D’s Role in Bone Strength
Vitamin D is crucial for our bodies to properly absorb and metabolize calcium and phosphorous, both of which are vital for healthy and strong bones. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, vitamin D is essential for the “formation, growth, and repair of bones and for normal calcium absorption and immune function.” Lona Sandon, RD, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas warns,”If you have a vitamin D deficiency, particularly in your older years, it can lead to osteoporosis or osteomalacia [bone softening].”
Healthy bones also mean a healthier nervous system. The stability of our body’s skeleton houses and gives protection to nerves, organs and tissues. Bones enable muscles to attach and allow functional movement of our bodies. Our nerves are housed and protected in bones of the skull and throughout the joints of the vertebrae. Vitamin D3 deficiency can be an indirect contributor to chronic low back pain. If the body cannot have a healthy nervous system, that is freely functioning many imbalances can occur. If the body’s bones cannot hold proper weight and shape as we age there is a strong correlation with increase in pain, decrease in function and over all unhealthy affect.
One study elaborated on the fact that chronic low back pain sufferers, who for over 6 years had sought relief, were in fact Vitamin D deficient. Out of 360 chronic low back pain patients 83% were found to be lacking proper levels of Vitamin D3. Chronic low back pain is a current problem in our modern society effecting 80% of Americans.
Another current study conducted in 2013, was composed of 350 subjects who had spinal nerve pressure due to “stenosis.” Stenosis can be a main cause of chronic low back pain. Stenosis is a narrowing of the boney canals through which spinal nerves travel through boney joint regions of the spine. This study illuminated the connection that 74% of subjects with chronic low back pain were vitamin D3 deficient and at risk for osteoporosis. Other studies show strong correlation to osteoarthritis joint problems and low intake of vitamin D3. Arthritis is a result of improper wear and tear of bone joints from improper function over time.
Other Benefits of Vitamin D
Vitamin D has become the renewed focus of a lot of research. As we become more and more aware of the many benefits of Vitamin D, many hidden secrets regarding Vitamin D are starting to emerge.
- Helps fight disorders like the common cold by strengthening the immune system.
- Helps reduce risk of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Multiple Sclerosis in the beginning stages causes weakness to the immune system. People who suffer from multiple sclerosis may experience frequent illnesses due to the fact that their body is under constant stress due to demyelination to their nervous system. Doctors are now recommending increased levels of vitamin D to enhance the immune system of multiple sclerosis suffers.
- Plays a key role in helping the brain maintaining cognitive functions in later years.
- Has an important role in maintaining a healthy body weight.
- Can help reduce the severity of asthma symptoms and its frequency.
- Vitamin D has been shown to reduce the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis in women.
- Vitamin D and cancer risk: Various studies have shown that people with adequate levels of vitamin D have a significantly lower risk of developing cancer, compared to those with low levels of Vitamin D.
- High vitamin D doses can help people recover from tuberculosis more rapidly.
- Heart attack risk: Low levels of vitamin D may increase the risk of heart attack and early death according to a study published in September 2012.
- Depression: Lack of Vitamin D may stress the nervous system with in turn over time may influence mood swings and depression. Depression is a concern for many people. It has been proven in studies that the nerve receptors and hormones that absorb Vitamin D into the skin from sunlight have influence over brain activity. Balanced levels of vitamin D circulating in the blood stream stimulates the areas of the brain, which deal with circadian rhythm and emotional centers which control function of mood and emotion.
What is the Best Way to Get Vitamin D3?
The best, and most natural way to get Vitamin D into your body is from sunlight. Our bodies are actually designed to get all the Vitamin D we need from exposure to the sun. When the UVB rays from the sun interact with the natural oils of our skin, the chemical reaction releases the active form of Vitamin D3. This chemical reaction in the cells of the skin can take up to 48 hours to be fully absorbed into the blood stream.
Other Means of Getting Vitamin D3
The National Vitamin D Council explains that vitamin D can also be obtained by ingesting cod fish oil, tuna, wild salmon, egg yolk, and foods such as fortified milk, yogurt and orange juice. It is recommended to have an intake of 5000 (IU) for males and females 1yrs old to age 70. It is important to realize most people will not be able to get enough Vitamin D through foods. It would take 10 glasses of milk to obtain the necessary amount of Vitamin D3.
When using Vitamin D supplements, make sure you are supplementing with Vitamin D3. If you are using supplements, which many people living in northern climates need to do, it is important to know your Vitamin D levels. It is possible to overdose on supplements. Another benefit to getting your Vitamin D from the sun is you cannot overdose. Once your body gets all the Vitamin D it needs from the sun, your body will stop producing it.
How Do I Know if I am Vitamin D Deficient?
Anyone can go to their primary care physician and ask to take a 25 (OH) D test to see if the body is adequately absorbing and maintaining proper vitamin D levels. It is even possible to take a home test based upon the blood sample from a self pin prick. The sample is then mailed off to laboratories that will interpret the levels of Vitamin D present in the blood. LabCorp is one of the many labs that can help with home testing.
Proper Vitamin D Levels and Chiropractic Care
As chiropractors, we often treat patients with problems such as chronic lower back pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and stenosis. As you can see from reading this article, low levels of Vitamin D can play a role in making each one of these problems worse. As chiropractors, we will focus our efforts on finding and correcting the underlying source of your problem. While chiropractic adjustments can correct subluxations (misalignments), eliminate or mitigate pain, and restore normal nerve function, low levels of Vitamin D will continue to negatively effect your health.
If you are experiencing any of the problems or symptoms we have mentioned in this article, and are wondering if low levels of Vitamin D may be contributing to your health issues, contact the doctors at Kempsville Chiropractic, 757.467.5258, for a consultation. Please recommend this article to help make others aware of the health benefits of Vitamin D.
- Vitamin D Tanning Tips
- Multiple Sclerosis and Chiropractic Care
- Back Pain
- Arthritis & How Chiropractic Care Helps with Arthritis
© 2013-2016 Kempsville Chiropractic
These articles are the property of Kempsville Chiropractic. They may not be reused without permission. You are welcome to link to this article. Kempsville Chiropractic has been proudly serving Virginia Beach, Virginia; Chesapeake, Virginia; and Norfolk, Virginia since 1996.
The contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Dr. Lombardozzi. The information on this site is not intended as medical advice. The information contained on this website is a sharing of knowledge based on the experience and research of Dr. Lombardozzi and his staff. Dr. Lombardozzi recommends that patients make their health care decisions after doing their research and consulting with a qualified health care professional.
Contact us at 757.467.5258 to set an appointment.