Why is vitamin D so important?
Scotland in the sunshine, glorious Autumnal colours! As the days get shorter it’s time to think about our Vitamin D levels. On Wed 2nd November, it’s vitamin D Day. This is one very important vitamin/pre-hormone I promise you. I think many of us know that Vitamin D is important. We are being advised to supplement during winter, and pregnant women are also advised to supplement with it along with folate. But what about the rest of us? Just why is vitamin D so vital to our well-being and just how much do we need?
Interestingly, 90% of what we now know about vitamin D comes from research that’s been done in the last 20 years, and especially in the last 10 years. Last year there were 7,500 trials on this vitamin alone. That’s quite a lot for something that can’t be patented and sold at vast expense.
After being in the body for roughly a couple of weeks, vitamin D is converted in the liver and kidneys to a pro-hormone and has far-reaching consequences on so many aspects of our health, being able to regulate over 200 genes. Every tissue in our body has vitamin D receptor sites.
This aspect of vitamin D’s use has been documented for a long time. Vitamin D helps with the uptake of calcium and is vital for bone health (along with Magnesium, vitamin K and boron). Tragically, rickets, a severe deficiency in vit D, which manifests as weak and deformed bones in children, is on the rise in this country.
Studies have shown that vitamin D may protect against autoimmune disease, such as MS, Crohn’s, Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis and certain cancers (including breast and bowel). It has been indicated that it is able to interact with genes that are connected to these diseases. It is also able to modulate immune cells linked with this part of the immune system and is able to keep abnormal cells from multiplying in breast and colon tissue.
We also know that vitamin D helps white blood cells to move to the site of an infection, so it’s a useful supplement to attack a cold with. I would take a pretty high dose on a day with a cold. Definitely in the 10s of 1000s (unless that person had a high baseline level of vit D already)
Vitamin D deficiency has also been connected to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure and heart attack. Vitamin D receptor sites are in every cell in our body, including our heart.
Vitamin D regulates genes involved in the production of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin. Anecdotally, with patients who suffer from SAD, I have seen improvements in their mood when vitamin D is supplemented in reasonably high doses. It has been connected to schizophrenia, mood disorders and neurological diseases, including Alzheimers.
Just from the brief information above, I hope you can see how important it is for us.
I would recommend that everyone tests their vitamin D levels at least once a year. You can do this via your GP or very simply through www.vitamindtest.org.uk. This is run by NHS Birmingham and they charge £28 to send a kit to your home. You simply put a few drops of blood where specified and it gets sent off, analysed and you are emailed the result. Optimum levels are generally accepted to be between 100 and 150 n/mols. 50 is deemed sufficient to prevent rickets and is where the minimum reference range is set, but it is not optimal.
At this time of year supplementing with an emulsified vitamin D such as Biocare’s Nutrisorb Biomulsion D is a wise decision for many of us.
Contact me for further guidance on this.