In Blog, News & Vitamin D

Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Depression, Pain, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and Breast Cancer

 

By Dr. Mercola

Vitamin D research continues to impress upon us the importance of appropriate sun exposure as the ideal way to optimize your vitamin D levels.

Winter limits sun exposure for many up to six months of the year. During those times, your next best bet would be artificial UVB light, as UV ray exposure also appears to have health benefits above and beyond the production of vitamin D.

One of the most damaging elements of standard sun beds are the magnetic ballasts (which make that loud buzzing noise you hear in many tanning salons). If an electronic ballast is used, there are far less damaging EMFs, which provide most of the danger from sun beds.

The other concern is related to the bulbs used, as some may contain only UVA light which is primarily responsible for the tan, but doesn’t increase vitamin D levels.  For much of the northern hemisphere, vitamin D production is not possible from the sun during the winter months.  You must use artificial UVB light or obtain vitamin D from your diet during this time.

The benefits of UVB exposure from the sun or artificial light include but are not limited to the production of nitric oxide—a compound that lowers your blood pressure. Despite its name, vitamin D is not a vitamin. It’s actually a potent neuroregulatory steroidal hormone, which helps explain some of its health impacts.

It has become abundantly clear that vitamin D deficiency is a growing epidemic across the world and could be contributing to hundreds of common health problems. In fact, correcting your vitamin D deficiency may cut your risk of dying from any cause by 50 percent, according to one analysis.

If this sounds too incredible to be true, consider that vitamin D influences nearly3,000 of your 24,000 genes. This occurs via vitamin D receptors, which can be found throughout your body, and should come as no great surprise given that humans evolved in the sun.

Vitamin D Beneficially Affects Gene Activity

Just one example of an important gene that vitamin D up-regulates is your ability to fight infections and chronic inflammation. It also produces over 200 anti-microbial peptides, the most important of which is cathelicidin, a naturally-occurring broad-spectrum antibiotic.

This is one of the explanations for why vitamin D is so effective against colds and influenza.

According to a January 2013 press release by Orthomolecular Medicine,1 there are now 33,800 medical papers with vitamin D in the title or abstract, and this veritable mountain of research shows that vitamin D has far-reaching benefits to your physical and mental health. Such research has shown that vitamin D can improve:

  • Pregnancy outcomes (reduced risk of Cesarean section and pre-eclampsia)
  • Type 1 and 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Autism, Alzheimer’s, and other brain dysfunction
  • Bacterial and viral infections

Some of the most recently published studies, which I’ll review here, demonstrate how boosting your vitamin D levels can improve depression and pain in diabetics, Crohn’s disease, and breast cancer.

Relevance of Vitamin D in Crohn’s Disease

While previous research has associated low vitamin D levels with an increased risk of Crohn’s disease and shown that correcting your vitamin D deficiency can improve symptoms of the disease,2 one of the most recent studies3 found a “significant interaction between vitamin D levels and Crohn’s disease susceptibility, as well as a significant association between vitamin D levels and genotype.”

Serum vitamin D levels were found to be significantly lower in patients with Crohn’s disease. Of the seven DNA sequence variations examined for effects, two variants showed a significant association with vitamin D levels in those with Crohn’s, and four variants were associated with vitamin D levels among controls.

In short, it shows that vitamin D can affect genetic expression associated with Crohn’s disease, and make matters either better or worse, depending on whether you have enough of it or not.

Vitamin D May Reduce Depression and Pain

In related news, vitamin D supplementation has been found to reduce both depression and pain in diabetic women. As reported by PsychCentral:4
“The investigators set out to determine how vitamin D supplementation might affect women with type 2 diabetes who were also suffering from depression.
At the beginning of the study, 61 percent of women reported neuropathic pain, such as shooting or burning pain in their legs and feet, and 74 percent had sensory pain, such as numbness and tingling in their hands, fingers and legs.
During the course of the study, the participants took a 50,000 IU vitamin D2 supplement every week for 6 months. By the end of the study, the women’s depression levels had significantly improved following the supplementation.
Furthermore, participants who suffered from neuropathic and/or sensory pain at the beginning of the study reported that these symptoms decreased at 3 and 6 months following vitamin D2 supplementation.”
According to lead researcher Todd Doyle, Ph.D., vitamin D supplementation “is a promising treatment for both pain and depression in type 2 diabetes.” However, I would note that you’d probably get even better results using vitamin D3 rather than prescription D2. In fact, previous research suggests vitamin D2 might do more harm than good in the long term…

Cut Your Breast Cancer Risk with Vitamin D, Cancer Surgeon Suggests

Meanwhile, a recent Science World Report9 highlighted the recommendation by British breast cancer surgeon, Professor Kefah Mokbel, who urges women to take daily vitamin D supplements to cut their risk of breast cancer. According to the featured article:
“Prof. Mokbel has also requested Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, to make [vitamin D] pills freely available as this would result in saving about a 1,000 lives annually. ‘I am calling for all women from the age of 20 to be given free vitamin D supplements on the NHS because it is effective in protecting against breast cancer,’ Prof. Mokbel said.
…[R]esearch1011 conducted by the Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Neb, which analyzed menopausal women from rural eastern Nebraska for over four years, revealed that taking vitamin D supplements along with calcium cut about 60 percent risk of cancer, including breast, lung and colon cancer…’It’s inexpensive, it’s safe, and it’s easy to take. It’s something that should be considered by a lot of people,’ says Joan Lappe, professor of nursing and medicine at Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Neb. ‘It’s low-risk with maybe a high pay-off.’”

Vitamin D Is Critical for Cancer Prevention

Indeed, an ever growing number of studies show that vitamin D has tremendous protective effects against a variety of different cancers, including pancreatic, lung, ovarian, breast, prostate, and skin cancers. Theories linking vitamin D deficiency to cancer have been tested and confirmed in more than 200 epidemiological studies, and understanding of its physiological basis stems from more than 2,500 laboratory trials.

For example, a 2007 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine12 concluded that a serum 25(OH)D level of more than 33 ng/mL was associated with a 50 percent lower risk of colorectal cancer. And research published in theInternational Journal of Cancer two years ago13 found that a mere 10 ng/ml increase in serum vitamin D levels was associated with a 15 percent reduction in colorectal cancer incidence and 11 percent reduction in breast cancer incidence.

Another 2007 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition14 found that after four years of follow up, cancer-free survival was 77 percent higher in women who received 1,100 IU vitamin D and 1,450 mg calcium per day, compared to those who received either a placebo or calcium by itself. According to Carole Baggerly, founder of GrassrootsHealth, as much as 90 percent of ordinary breast cancer may in fact be related to vitamin D deficiency. Breast cancer has even been described as a “vitamin D deficiency syndrome,” much like the commoncold and seasonal flu.

Most Important—Maintaining Optimal Vitamin D Serum Levels

Of utmost importance is the maintenance of a therapeutically beneficial serum level year-round. Here, studies indicate that thebare minimum for cancer prevention is around 40 ng/ml. Research suggests an ideal level might be around 60-80 ng/ml. A 2009 review article15 titled: “Vitamin D for Cancer Prevention: Global Perspective,” published in Annals of Epidemiologystates that:
“Higher serum levels of the main circulating form of vitamin D, 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), are associated with substantially lower incidence rates of colon, breast, ovarian, renal, pancreatic, aggressive prostate and other cancers.Epidemiological findings combined with newly discovered mechanisms suggest a new model of cancer etiology that accounts for these actions of 25(OH)D and calcium. Its seven phases are disjunction, initiation, natural selection, overgrowth, metastasis, involution, and transition (abbreviated DINOMIT). Vitamin D metabolites prevent disjunction of cells and are beneficial in other phases.

It is projected that raising the minimum year-around serum 25(OH)D level to 40 to 60 ng/mL (100–150 nmol/L) would prevent approximately 58,000 new cases of breast cancer and 49,000 new cases of colorectal cancer each year, and three fourths of deaths from these diseases in the United States and Canada, based on observational studies combined with a randomized trial.

Such intakes also are expected to reduce case-fatality rates of patients who have breast, colorectal, or prostate cancer by half... The time has arrived for nationally coordinated action to substantially increase intake of vitamin D and calcium.” [Emphasis mine]

Vitamin D from Artificial Light Available In Boulder, Colorado – All Year Long!

Light helps you stay healthy and during the winter in Colorado, it’s harder  for most of us to get enough natural light to have ideal Vitamin D levels and serotonin production for healthy living. Visit our Tanning Superstore in Boulder, Colorado, the artificial UV created by sun beds has the same positive effect as sunshine. Our tanning professionals at Veranda Sun know how to help you control the right amount of tanning your skin needs. Learn more about How Tanning Works and Tips and Safety for Tanning in Boulder, CO.

At Veranda Sun Tanning Salon in Boulder, we continue to bring you useful information on health and beauty. Find more interesting topics every week by visiting our Blog, we’ll continue to post on Healing and Preventive Qualities of the Sun. You can follow us on Facebook, so you’ll be sure not to miss any of our tanning specials, membership prices, Veranda Sun helps you discover new ways to stay healthy and beautiful!

At Veranda Sun in Boulder, we care about your health. Contact us to learn more about other great ways to help your body feel great and stay beautiful. Have questions?  Ask us. Or visit us and lets talk!

Vitamina D

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