Just about every week we hear about one single nutrient deficiency that’s linked to yet another disease. Studies claim that at least part of the solution to these illnesses — and sometimes the sole answer — is to raise blood levels of this common nutrient.
Osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, MS, lupus, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, skin cancer, and asthma are just a few of the dozens of health problems they say respond to vitamin D therapy. How can one vitamin/hormone be a key factor in so many chronic diseases? Does vitamin D really play such a significant role in our health? Or is this an exaggeration? Or worse, a scam?
The role of vitamin D on your health is very real. It’s definitely not a scam. And it’s not exaggerated. In fact, it could be understated.
Researchers at the University of Oxford recently made an interesting and very important discovery. They found out how and why vitamin D affects so many health conditions. It interacts with your DNA and directly influences more than 200 genes! That means that “genetic” illnesses like MS, Crohn’s disease, or type-1 diabetes may have a different cause. It may mean that low vitamin D is a key factor.
Vitamin D interacts with our DNA through vitamin D receptors — proteins this vitamin activates. The receptors attach themselves to your DNA and influence which proteins your genetic code makes.
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Now, here comes the explanation for vitamin D’s widespread influence on our health. So far, researchers have found 2,776 binding sites for vitamin D receptors! And that’s not all. They found these sites concentrated near genes associated with susceptibility to autoimmune diseases.
This means that everyone with a known or suspected autoimmune disease should evaluate their vitamin D levels. It’s quite possible they’re deficient. This includes anyone with gluten sensitivity who could have Celiac disease — an autoimmune condition.
Since vitamin D deficiency is so rampant, ask your doctor to order a simple blood test called 25-hydroxy vitamin D. While most doctors say that anything above 30 ng/mL is sufficient, I disagree. And so do many doctors of integrative medicine. You want yours to be between 60 and 80 ng/mL.
It’s impossible to get enough Vitamin D from sunlight unless you live near the Equator. So add a supplement to your daily regime. Most people need at least 5,000 IU per day. This is why most dietary and supplement sources won’t give you vitamin D sufficiency. Many of the vitamin D supplements at the average pharmacy contain only 400 IU.
However, you can find capsules containing 5,000 IU in most health food stores or from Advanced Bionutritionals. Make sure you take vitamin D3, the most active — and easily absorbed — kind.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand
Ramagopalan SV, Heger A, Berlanga AJ, Maugeri NJ, Lincoln MR, Burrell A, Handunnetthi L, Handel AE, Disanto G, Orton S, Watson CT, Morahan JM, Giovannoni G, Ponting CP, Ebers GC, Knight JC. A ChIP-seq-defined genome-wide map of vitamin D receptor binding: Associations with disease and evolution. Genome Research, 2010; DOI: 10.1101/gr.107920.110.