Vitamin D has been receiving much attention lately, as it has been shown to reduce the risk of many cancers, help to prevent cardiovascular disease, lower the prevalence of diabetes and activate the body’s immune system. This is quite a list of accomplishments for the chemical structure known as Vitamin D or the ‘Sunshine Vitamin’. It is actually not a vitamin at all, and is classified as a pro-hormone which means that it assists metabolic reactions within the body. Vitamin D is deficient in nearly 60% on the population, as people avoid the sun and are not able to consume sufficient amounts. Vitamin D has been the subject of extensive research over the last decade, and we now have a clear picture of how it functions, the many health-promoting effects it has been shown to promote and how much is needed for disease prevention.
Vitamin D Activates Our Immune System
Recent research demonstrates how Vitamin D activates the T Cells of our innate immune system. When an invader bacteria or virus enters our body, the immune system must be able to detect the intruder and then mount an effective attack against the pathogen. Vitamin D is the component which must be available in sufficient amounts in the bloodstream for this activation process to initiate. The T Cells have Vitamin D receptors which must come in contact with Vitamin D to properly mount the attack. If sufficient Vitamin D is not available, the immune T Cells remain dormant, and the pathogen is able to infect the body. Additionally, virtually every cell in our body has Vitamin D receptors which are actively waiting to be filled. Studies have demonstrated that Vitamin D acts as the key to unlock the cellular instruction manual which controls how the DNA of the cell is to replicate. When sufficient Vitamin D is not present, mutations can occur which lead to improper cellular proliferation and the beginning of health issues.
Vitamin D Is Essential to Prevent Disease
Proper Vitamin D blood levels have been shown to reduce the prevalence of 17 different cancers by as much as 78%. Vitamin D bolsters the immune system and guides proper cellular replication which are critical factors in the development and progression of cancer. Vitamin D has also demonstrated significant improvements in blood lipid panels which help to prevent cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. And cutting edge research indicates that the Sunshine Vitamin helps avert diabetes by promoting the way insulin ushers glucose from the blood to the cells, in effect modulating insulin resistance and reducing the devastating effects of this disease. Autoimmune diseases also benefit from Vitamin D due to corrections in the immune response which have gone awry in this type of affliction. Even the effects of the common cold and flu are drastically reduced, as our cellular Vitamin D receptors are no longer targets of these pathogens.
Vitamin D Supplementation Is Required For Maximum Benefit
So how much Vitamin D is necessary to reap the benefits from this miracle pro-hormone? Ancient RDA levels set over a half century ago were originally developed to prevent diseases such as rickets. These levels are dangerously low for disease prevention from cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and proper immune T Cell response. The only way to know if you are optimally protected is to measure the level of Vitamin D in the blood using an inexpensive test known as ’25(OH)D’. A wealth of medical studies indicate that most adults should have blood levels between 50 and 70 ng/ml. This amount circulating in the blood ensures that all cells have been saturated, and innate immune response is at its highest level. Most adults will require 6,000 – 10,000 IU per day of Vitamin D (always take in an oil-based gel cap form for maximum absorption), and many factors such as body weight, age, sun exposure and diet can affect blood levels. Begin supplementing at 6,000 IU, and have your blood level tested after 90 days. Most people find that every 1,000 IU increases the blood response by 10 ng/ml, so adjust accordingly. People fighting cancer and other serious disease may require even higher levels up to 90 ng/ml.
With the overwhelming body of research now compiled, health conscious individuals monitor their Vitamin D levels twice a year and make the necessary adjustments to ensure proper blood levels. Evolution has selected Vitamin D to regulate many essential biologic functions in the human body. It is our responsibility to use the evidence we have accumulated to ensure our optimal, vibrant health.