Vitamin D Necessary for Optimum Health

I have memories of running around the beach as a child and if not under the umbrella, I was forced to wear the funny colored zinc-oxide on my lips, under my eyes; t-shirt (long sleeves would have been preferable, but my mother finally gave up) and a hat that better have a brim a foot long to block the enemy of summer: The SUN! How often do we hear the hated sun is the cause of all our problems from wrinkles to cancer?  Or is it?

The medical community and media have engraved in our brains that we dare not step foot outside without a minimum of SPF 15 and guess who raked in the dough? Every brand name cosmetic company jumped on the band wagon and started adding SPF to all their products, and while we thought we were protecting ourselves, cancer occurrences started to climb. This is not to say that hiding from the sun is the direct link to an increase in cancer, but what research has shown is vitamin D deficiency (and the type we get from the sun) puts a strain on our bodies to yield off inflammation and protect us from “serious chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, infections, multiple sclerosis, and more”1. Vitamin D deficiency is in “epidemic proportions in the United States and many other regions around the world…because people do not spend enough time in the sun to facilitate…vitamin D production…”1. An optimal level of vitamin D, which is currently being debated in the medical community, has also been linked to preventing breast cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.

Vitamin D3 can be taken orally, and is a necessary option for those of us who can not jump in the sun on a daily basis. However, sun exposure is the very best way to get our vitamin D because our bodies can readily use it.  “Unlike oral vitamin D3 supplements, sunlight-formed vitamin D sulfate is water soluble.  The water-soluble form can travel freely in [our] bloodstreams, whereas the unsulfated form needs LDL as a vehicle of transport”1.  Also, vitamin D is the only vitamin not found in breast milk, suggesting that our bodies were meant to run and play with our so-called “enemy.”

New reports from National Jewish Health, which will be published in the March 2012 issue of The Journal of Immunology, have discovered how vitamin D acts on immune and inflammatory pathways2. Scientists have identified a new location where the vitamin-D receptor binds directly with DNA to activate a gene known as MKP-1.  MKP-1 is known to interfere with inflammatory responses2. This new information could potentially help individuals suffering from all types of chronic inflammatory diseases.  “The factor that sets vitamin D apart from many other nutrients is that vitamin D receptors are present in virtually every tissue and cell in [the] body”1. So the next time you take a drive to the beach, you may want to take a break from under the umbrella.  Soak up those rays and toast to your health!

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1 .How to Get Your Vitamin D Within to Healthy Ranges.
2 . How Vitamin D Inhibits Inflammation

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 8th, 2012 at 3:05 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.