There’s currently no vital nutrient more frequently discussed than Vitamin D, and it is for a good reason as it is a true workhorse nutrient.
Countless studies suggest that maintaining healthy levels of this Vitamin produces incredible health benefits that are related to all aspects of health. Its deficiency contributes to a surprisingly large number of health problems.
It plays an important role in the production of serotonin - a hormone that helps regulate mood and sleep. There is a clear link between low levels of this Vitamin and mood problems (1). It was found that supplements with this nutrient can help improve the mood of women with type 2 diabetes (2).
There are many factors that contribute to depression, but experts suggest that depression combined with fatigue may be a sign of Vitamin D deficiency (3).
The sunshine vitamin plays a critical role in maintaining a strong immune system. Immune cells have special receptors for this vitamin and depend on it for strength and normal function.
It can be very beneficial in helping the immune system to fight viral infections including flu or colds as it produces numerous natural and harmless antibiotics (4).
According to one research, there is a “Strong Correlation Between Prevalence of Severe Vitamin D Deficiency and Population Mortality Rate from COVID-19 in Europe (5).
There is evidence that healthy levels of this vitamin can prevent COVID-19’s cytokine storm (6). This discovery is not surprising because it is not only the most effective immune system booster but at the same time, it is a very potent immune modulator. It means that apart from stimulating the immune cells to fight viruses it also helps suppress their activity when it is required. In this way, it makes the immune cells less inflammatory.
U.K. researchers evaluated the average Vitamin D levels and the number of COVID-19 cases, as well as the death rates, across European countries. They concluded that the countries with low average blood levels of this nutrient had significantly higher numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths (7).
According to a study published in 2016, many autoimmune diseases have been linked to Vitamin D deficiency (8). Lack of this vitamin contributes to autoimmune diseases because it stimulates suppressor T-cells to prevent other immune cells from attacking their own body.
In a body deficient in this vitamin, suppressor T-cells can’t function properly and allow plasma cells to send antibodies against their own body tissues.
Diabetes and Insulin Resistance
It improves insulin sensitivity, regulating blood sugar levels and reducing insulin resistance. Its deficiency is associated with high body fat, high blood sugar levels, and decreased insulin sensitivity.
A region of the brain called the hypothalamus which controls both weight and glucose levels has Vitamin D receptors. Therefore, lack of it is a risk factor for the development of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and obesity (9).
Vitamin D plays an important role in modulating inflammatory and immune function. Recent studies reported a relationship between low Vitamin D levels and several autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 Diabetes.
It has the ability to block excess estrogen (10) reducing the risk of health problems associated with increased oestrogen levels including breast cancer, ovarian cancer, fibroids, heart attack, and stroke.
Low blood levels of the sunshine vitamin interfere with proper testosterone production, leading to lower levels of this hormone and many unwanted symptoms (11).
Its deficiency is linked to increased risks for cardiovascular problems (12) because it is involved in regulating cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
Vitamin D supports bone health by stimulating intestinal calcium and phosphorus absorption. It also strengthens bones by stimulating bone calcium mobilization and by increasing the reabsorption of calcium in the kidneys.
It appears to be much more important than calcium in maintaining strong bones (13) and preventing hip fractures. Its deficiency leads to low bone mineral density and rickets in children. It is also one of the most important factors in the prevention of osteoporosis brought on by the menopause.
It plays an important role in regulating brain function. It aids the development of the nervous system and brain, helping postpone the decline of the nerve cells. Researchers found that low levels of this vitamin cause damage to the brain (14).
Studies have shown that individuals who are deficient perform poorly on exams, have reduced decision-making skills, and have difficulty with tasks that require attention.
Pregnant and lactating women are encouraged to take D3 supplements. Newer studies suggest 4000 IU should be regarded as the optimal daily amount of this Vitamin during pregnancy (15).
Vitamin D supports the well-being of the baby, healthy bone, and neural development. It also helps to prevent child-onset diabetes and other autoimmune conditions.
Obesity may be associated with Vitamin D deficiency because it improves fat cell metabolism. It also acts as an appetite suppressant, by stimulating the release of leptin.
New studies suggest that it may help us burn more calories, by making fat cells more metabolically active and turning our body from fat-storing into fat-burning mode.
Unfortunately, public health warnings about skin cancer have caused a rise in Vitamin D deficiency through lack of sunlight. Sun exposure, when used correctly, has always been and still is a healing agent for our body. It should not be avoided.
There is a decrease in the rates of skin cancer among people who live in very sunny regions. There are almost one thousand references in the medical literature demonstrating the effectiveness of Vitamin D – in preventing cancer including melanoma.
Some studies have found low blood levels of Vitamin D in people with hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) as well as hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid). Low Vitamin D levels are also associated with autoimmune hypothyroidism (16). Healthcare initiatives such as mass Vitamin D deficiency testing could significantly decrease the risk of thyroid problems.
JUST ONE MEGA-DOSE OF 200,000 IU OF D3 REDUCED SKIN DAMAGE AFTER SUNBURN
A study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology showed that just one high dose of 200,000 IU of Vitamin D taken one hour after sunburn was able to decrease skin damage, redness, swelling, and inflammation. Interestingly, lower doses of the same supplement didn’t make a difference (17).
Dr. Jeffrey Scott, a dermatologist specializing in skin cancer at the University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center in Ohio, wanted to know if a one-time oral megadose of D3 could reduce the effects of sunburn on the skin. During the experiment, participants received either a 50,000 IU, 100,000 IU, or 200,000 IU dose of cholecalciferol (D3) one hour after a sunburn. As a result, only the subjects who received the dose of 200,000 IU experienced a visible reduction of redness and damage.
Recommended Vitamin D Supplement
Experts recommend taking 4,000-5,000 IU a day with breakfast. However, since the deficiency is so widespread it is suggested (for those with diagnosed deficiency) to take 20,000 IU daily with meals for the first few months and after that, reduce it to the maintenance daily dose of 4,000-5,000 IU daily.
The most convenient way of supplementation is taking one capsule of strong Vitamin D3 20,000 IU once every five days with breakfast. It doesn’t have to be taken every day because it is stored in the liver and disposed according to the needs.
Magnesium (200mg twice daily) should be taken with Vitamin D supplements. It is important because magnesium is needed to convert cholecalciferol (D3) into its active D3 form in the kidneys. Without magnesium Vitamin D remains inactive and useless. In addition, it will lead to magnesium deficiency, causing sleep problems and other issues.
There are more ways to test for Vitamin D but the only reliable one seems to be the 25-hydroxyvitamin D test, also called the 25(OH) D test.
Other types of tests can be misleading showing normal or even elevated levels, despite serious deficiency.
- Vitamin D and Depression: Where is all the Sunshine? - PMC (nih.gov)
- Vitamin D Supplementation Improves Mood in Women with Type 2 Diabetes - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Vitamin D Deficiency: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment (clevelandclinic.org)
- Vitamin D | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
- Strong Correlation Between Prevalence of Severe Vitamin D Deficiency and Population Mortality Rate from COVID-19 in Europe | medRxiv
- The possible roles of solar ultraviolet-B radiation and vitamin D in reducing case-fatality rates from the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic in the United States - PubMed (nih.gov)
- The role of Vitamin D in the prevention of Coronavirus Disease 2019 infection and mortality | Research Square
- Vitamin D in Autoimmunity: Molecular Mechanisms and Therapeutic Potential - PMC (nih.gov)
- Vitamin D deficiency and diabetes - PubMed (nih.gov)
- High blood levels of vitamin D linked to reduced estrogen – and potentially lower breast cancer risk (fredhutch.org)
- Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men - PubMed (nih.gov)
- A new study reveals the importance of vitamin D on heart health (medicalnewstoday.com)
- The effect of vitamin D on bone and osteoporosis - PubMed (nih.gov)
- New UK Study Suggests Low Vitamin D Causes Damage to Brain | UKNow (uky.edu)
- Vitamin D and Pregnancy - American Pregnancy Association
- Association between vitamin D deficiency and hypothyroidism: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2007–2012 | BMC Endocrine Disorders | Full Text (biomedcentral.com)
- Oral Vitamin D Rapidly Attenuates Inflammation from Sunburn: An Interventional Study - PubMed (nih.gov)
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