The Benefits of Vitamin D
We know that vitamins are good for us. We also know that the best sources of vitamins are in the foods we eat – especially seafood, fruits and vegetables and the root family.
The third thing we know is that we don’t eat sufficient amounts of these foods because our busy lives force us to take short cuts in our diet. The “faster” the food, the more time we save. We are frequently tempted by convenience foods that line supermarket shelves. Why cook a meal from scratch when you can just open the box and shove it into the microwave?
What happens when we eat convenience foods too often? We deprive ourselves of vitamins and minerals. Tests and random trials conducted in the past tell us that one of the vitamins we sorely lack is vitamin D.
About 18 trials were conducted to measure the effects of vitamin D deficiency, especially as they relate to illness-related deaths. There are four methods to treat a vitamin D deficiency:
- Eating vitamin D rich foods such as cod, salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, milk, egg, and cheese. Note: When eating fish, be cautious of taking in too much mercury.
- Increased exposure to sunlight
- Exposure to artificial ultra-violet rays
Vitamin D and its Role in Illness
In healthy individuals, 2,000 to 7,000 IU of vitamin D is sufficient; for individuals diagnosed with serious illnesses like multiple sclerosis, cancer, diabetes and others, the dosage must be higher. In fact people who are sick must not only be administered higher doses but must also be monitored for serum and serum calcium amounts. It is possible that giving 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day for three consecutive days to individuals with illnesses could produce a natural antibiotic called cathelcidin, known for treating respiratory disorders such as the flu and the common cold, but more tests need to be performed to prove this.
Other studies indicate that a form of vitamin D3 called cholecalciferol was found to have significantly decreased the mortality rate. This was discovered after 18 random trials were carried out. This is remarkable, considering that only small doses of vitamin D were used and the tests were of short duration. Despite the small dose and the short duration, the reduction in the mortality rate was 7%.
In the case of statins (drugs that help lower cholesterol levels and given to people at risk of cardiovascular disease), it appears that they exhibit the same properties of vitamin D and hence increased vitamin D may help the statins do their work better in people with heart trouble.
A study by Lappe et al found that increasing vitamin D amounts could lead to a 60% reduction in the occurrence of some cancers.
Vitamin D and Other Diseases
In addition to cancer, a person who is deficient in vitamin D could be susceptible to heart disease, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. A vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to osteoporosis, mental problems, chronic pain, periodontal disease, macular degeneration, and loss of balance.
Studies suggest that taking 2,000 IU of vitamin D a day for a period of 12 months could prevent the common cold and the flu. When individuals were warned about exposure to the sun as a possible cause for skin cancer, many of them avoided sun exposure, unaware that they were depriving themselves of vitamin D. Some researchers say that the incidence of the three most common childhood disorders – autism, asthma, and type 1 diabetes – increased after the media went on an awareness campaign about avoiding the sun.
Note that some of the claims regarding vitamin D and its ability to prevent various diseases appear credible, but what must be noted especially is that vitamin D – as some researchers suggest – is not a vitamin. It is the only substance capable of repairing and maintaining the seco-steroid hormone with multiple autocrine functions. Autocrine in its most basic sense means a cell secreting a hormone. It was previously thought that the role of vitamin D was principally endocrine in nature (group of organs that secrete hormones; the endocrine system is said to be responsible for human growth and development and metabolism) and was therefore a serum-calcium regulator involved in bone metabolism.