Vitamin D: More Benefits Than Just Bone Health, Part 1

“Vitamin D deficiency and its consequences are extremely subtle but have enormous implications for human health and disease.  It is for this reason that vitamin D deficiency continues to go unrecognized by a majority of health care professionals.” – Dr. Michael Holick, University of Boston

Vitamin D is a hormone that requires sunlight in order for the body to produce it.  There are numerous variables that affect the body’s ability to make and absorb enough vitamin D.  Some of these factors include where you live, seasons, times spent outdoors, skin pigmentation, age and the ability to absorb.

The benefits of vitamin D have been researched extensively.  However, the majority of Americans are deficient and multivitamins do NOT provide enough.  Research has demonstrated that vitamin D levels in the blood that fall between 50 to 80 ng/mL are associated with reduced mortality and a lower risk of common diseases. (1)

Cognitive Function

The brain relies heavily  on vitamin D receptors for protection against the things that can damage it.  Vitamin D receptors have been found in numerous locations throughout the brain.  These receptors are located on the surface of a cell where they receive chemical signals that instruct the cell to do something.  Vitamin D receptors located in the brain can influence how a person thinks and behaves.  Scientists have found that people with Alzheimer’s and Dementia have fewer vitamin D receptors in a part of the brain responsible for creating memories, the hippocampus. (2)

Another research group conducted a study that observed over 1,600 seniors for six years.  They found those individuals who were severely deficient in vitamin D were more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s and Dementia than those who had adequate levels. (3)  These results were twice of what the scientists were anticipating.

A 75-year long study found that participants who had been diagnosed with Dementia had a lower vitamin D average than other groups.  The researchers also conducted cognitive tests that evaluated episodic memory, semantic memory, visual perception and executive function.  Those tests showed that participants with lower levels of vitamin D demonstrated a greater decline in both cognitive ability and episodic memory. (4)

Hormone Imbalance

In today’s industrial society, we are continually exposed to many variables that affect our hormone balance.  These variables include pollution and environmental toxins, processed foods, soy, chemical exposures in our homes and work environments.  As a result, we are constantly exposed to xenoestrogens that cause disruptions in hormone balance.  If you’re striving for hormone balance, one of the best ways to achieve it is to determine what the disruptive cause is, try to limit exposure when possible and take nutritional support to help reduce the damage the toxic elements can cause.  In 2010, a study showed high doses of vitamin D lowered estradiol, a form of estrogen and progesterone.  We live in an estrogen dominant society.  Estrogen dominance is one of the main causes of infertility, breast cancer, and a number of other problems. (5)  Did you know studies have shown 70% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are vitamin D deficient! (6)

Cancer

Vitamin D deficiency may account for several thousand premature deaths from colon, breast, ovarian and prostate cancer annually based on the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency combined with the discovery of increased risks of certain types of cancer in people who are deficient. (7)

A study performed in Norway involving over 115,000 diagnosed cases of breast, colon and prostate cancers concluded that patients with a high level of vitamin D3 at the time of diagnosis and through treatment had an improved prognosis.  This study also revealed that cancer diagnoses during spring and fall, the seasons with the highest levels of vitamin D3, revealed the lowest risk of cancer death. (8)

Northern California Cancer Center performed the first study designed to assess the association of breast cancer and sunlight exposure.  Their study determined high exposure to sunlight was associated with a 25-65% reduction in breast cancer risk among women whose longest residence was in a state of high solar radiation. (9)

Harvard announced recently the five-year survival for patients with early-stage, non-small cell carcinoma of the lung was almost three times better in patients with the highest vitamin D levels compared to patients with the lowest.  Five-year survival approached 80% for those with the highest levels of vitamin D! (9)

Testing is KEY

The only way to know your vitamin D level is to have it tested.  Truth is, if you’re deficient in vitamin D, you’re highly likely to be deficient in other nutrients as well and there might be other health conditions causing the low levels of vitamin D.  Screenings for these are part of my routine testing.  I recommend getting a good baseline and finding out where your nutritional status lies at any age.  Let me guide you down the right path with a plan specifically customized just for you and your needs.  Let me help you with a safe and natural approach to implement something better today that will enhance your health tomorrow.

References
  1. http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2010/1/startling-findings-about-vitamin-d-levels-in-life-extension-members/page-01.
  2. Vitamincouncil.com
  3. Link found between Vitamin D deficiency and dementia. Alzheimer’s.net. October 29, 2015.
  4. Vitamin D Status and Rates of Cognitive Decline in a Multiethic Cohort of Older Adults. JAMA Neurol. 2015;72(11):1295-1303. November 2015.
  5. Joshua W. Miller, PhD; Danielle J. Harvey, PhD; Laurel A. Beckett, PhD, et.al. Vitamin D Status and Rates of Cognitive Decline in a Multiethnic Cohort of Older Adults JAMA Neurol. 2015;72(11):1295-1303..
  6. Women with breast cancer have low Vitamin D levels. University of Rochester Medical Center. October 10, 2009.
  7. Grant WB. An estimate of premature cancer mortality in the US because of inadequate doses of solar ultraviolet-B radiation. Cancer. 2002;94(6):1867-1875.
  8. Robsahm TE, Tretli S, Dahlback A, Moan J. Vitamin D3 from sunlight may improve the prognosis of breast-, colon- and prostate cancer (Norway). Cancer Causes Control. 2004 Mar;15(2):149-158.
  9. Esther M. John, Gary G. Schwartz, Darlene M. Dreon, and Jocelyn Koo. Vitamin D and Breast Cancer Risk: The NHANES I Epidemiologic Follow-Up Study, 1971-1975 to 1992 Norhtern California Cancer Center.

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