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Vitamin D - The Amazing "Sunshine" Vitamin
Vitamin D is truly the "sunshine" vitamin! The most natural source of this vitamin is sunshine. When the sun's ultraviolet rays reach our skin, they trigger our body's production of vitamin D. However, most of us simply don't get enough of this vitamin. As a group we spend most of our time indoors, thus limiting our exposure to the sun. When we do venture outside we are warned to use sunblock to prevent UV rays from penetrating the skin (there is new sentiment in scientific circles that it's important to receive some level of UV light). And during winter months, the opportunity for receiving the sun's light is reduced due to shortened days. This can lead to low mood conditions such as the "winter blues" or even seasonal affective disorder.
New research suggests that vitamin D is more important to our health than previously thought. Practitioners are alarmed at a recent increase in vitamin D deficiencies, and at the same time researchers are discovering how this nutrient is important to nearly every tissue in the body! Recent studies have looked at vitamin D's role in helping to prevent depression, breast cancer, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and even gum disease! What follows is a summary of the latest vitamin D research.
Of course, vitamin D is an important component of Levity
Mood Elevating Formula because of its critical role in boosting mood through the stimulation of serotonin (the "feel good" brain chemical). Because of the importance of the key nutrients selected for the Levity formula, a daily regimen that includes one Levity tablet can generate a wide array of benefits beyond mood and energy!
ABOUT VITAMIN D AND...
Depression & Mood
The connection between mood disorders and vitamin D deficiency is well-established. A study at the University of Newcastle in Australia tested the effects of supplemental vitamin D intake versus a placebo in a group of healthy subjects in late winter. The subjects receiving vitamin D had a dramatic improvement in mood scores versus the placebo group.(1) Another recent study tested the effects of vitamin D supplementation on subjects suffering from seasonal affective disorder ("SAD") for a one-month period. Again, the subjects receiving vitamin D had a measurable improvement when evaluated using depression scale tests versus subjects not receiving supplementation.(2)
Colon Cancer & Osteoporosis
Rutgers University proposed that a Vitamin D enrichment program could achieve 20% reduction in colon cancer deaths and osteoporosis-related fractures. Researcher Harold Newmark is calling on the U.S. government to include both calcium and vitamin D to the existing mandate (by the Food & Drug Administration) that establishes an enrichment mix in products such as bread and pasta. Newmark believes that such a program could save 11,000 lives and an estimated $3 billion in annual U.S. health care costs. The benefits cited by Rutgers would be a significant reduction in the incidences of osteoporosis and colon cancer. The role of calcium in bone health is widely understood, plus there is increasing awareness of its beneficial effect on the colon. Vitamin D is important because it aids in the absorption of dietary calcium by the body.(3)
Muscle & Bone Pain
Research at the University of Minnesota found that 93% of all subjects with non-specific musculoskeletal pain were vitamin D deficient. The study authors note that this kind of pain is the most common type of complaint seen by primary care doctors. A study of 150 children and adults with undetermined muscle or bone pain found that 100 per cent of African-American, East African, Hispanic, and Native American subjects were vitamin D deficient. And all study patients under the age of 30 were deficient in the vitamin. Of these, 55 per cent were severely deficient. Five patients unexpectedly had no vitamin D at all. Researcher Greg Plotnikoff said that study results support the need for more routine testing for vitamin D deficiency. "We found the worst vitamin D deficiency in young persons - especially women of childbearing age," he added. U.S. and European researchers are becoming increasingly alarmed by vitamin D deficiency, which is associated with significant risks for osteoporosis, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, and auto-immune diseases such as multiple sclerosis. (4)
A Tufts University study showed that vitamin D could be very important for oral health. The researchers studied data on over 11,000 men and women aged 20 or older who participated in the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Eighty percent had deficient levels of vitamin D, and the higher the defiency, the greater the likelihood of tooth loss. The researchers believe that the vitamin may reduce the inflammatory response that leads to periodontal disease. Vitamin D has also been associated with auto-immune diseases such as diabetes, as well as prevention of cancer and fractures.(5)
Muscular Sclerosis (MS)
A study from the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that women who take vitamin D supplements are 40% less likely to develop multiple sclerosis (MS) than women who do not take the vitamin. It's estimated that of the 2.5 million people in the world with MS, it is more common in women, who make up 60% of that group. Also, researchers note that the number of MS cases increases the farther you get from the earth's equator, leading to the hypothesis that sunlight exposure and high levels of vitamin D may reduce the risk of the disease. This study examined data from two large studies involving women, the 20-year Nurses' Health Study and the 10-year Nurses' Health Study II. Nearly 200,000 subjects were examined, and those who developed MS after the start of the study were compared against their vitamin D intake. Those with the highest intake of vitamin D from supplements (400 IU or more per day) were 40 per cent less likely to develop MS than those who used no supplements.(6)
A recent study of rheumatoid arthritis in postmenopausal women found that those consuming at least 400IU of supplemental vitamin D daily had a 34% reduction of risk of the disease. Rheumatoid arthritis is thought to be caused by a cellular immune response, and this is one of the first studies that ties vitamin D to the health of the body's immune system. The study examined a group of nearly 30,000 women over an eleven year period, and focused on those subjects who acquired the condition after the start of the study period.(7)
A new British study says that vitamin D can help fight breast cancer. It was previously believed that calcitriol, the active form of vitamin D and a potent anti-cancer agent, was made only in the kidney. But this study found breast tissue also contains the enzyme that activates vitamin D and increased levels of the enzyme were found in breast tumors. The researchers believe this ability to activate vitamin D is part of the breast's natural immune response to a tumor. The researchers suggested that vitamin D supplementation could be very important in daily nutrition due to common deficiencies of the nutrient in most of the population.(8)
1. Lansdowne AT, Provost SC, Vitamin D3 enhances mood in healthy subjects during winter. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1998 Feb;135(4):319-23.
2. Gloth FM 3rd, Alam W, Hollis B, Vitamin D vs broad spectrum phototherapy in the treatment of seasonal affective disorder. J Nutr Health Aging. 1999;3(1):5-7.
3. Harold L Newmark, Robert P Heaney, and Paul A Lachance. Should calcium and vitamin D be added to the current enrichment program for cereal-grain products? Am J Clin Nutr 2004 80: 264-270.
4. Holick, Michael F. "Vitamin D Deficiency: What a Pain It Is", Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Dec 2003, Vol 78 No. 12 p 1457.
5. Dietrich, T., Joshipura, K.J., Dawson-Hughes, B., Bischoff-Ferrari, H.A. Association between serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 and periodontal disease in the US population, Am J Clin Nutr 2004 80: 108-113.
6. Munger, K.L., Zhang, S.M., O'Reilly, E., Hernán, M.A., Olek, M.J. Willett, W.C.,Ascherio, A. Vitamin D intake and incidence of multiple sclerosis, Neurology 2004 (62: 60-65).
7. Merlino, Linda A., Curtis, Jeffrey, Mikuls, Ted R., Cerhan, James R., Criswell, Lindsey A., Saag, Kenneth G. Vitamin D intake is inversely associated with rheumatoid arthritis: Results from the Iowa Women's Health Study Arthritis & Rheumatism 2004 (50:1, p72-77)
8. Evans KN, Taylor H, Zehnder D, Kilby MD, Bulmer JN, Shah F, Adams JS, Hewison M. Increased expression of 25-hydroxyvitamin D-1alpha-hydroxylase in dysgerminomas: a novel form of humoral hypercalcemia of malignancy.
Am J Pathol. 2004 Sep;165(3):807-13.