Heart, Immune, Vitamins | December 16, 2017 | Author: Naturopath
Vitamin D acts in the body as more of a hormone than a vitamin, and is now seen as having its own entire system – as well as its well-known role in bone health, vitamin D has a huge impact on DNA synthesis, hormone balance, glucose metabolism, immune reactions, mood stability and reproductive health.
Recent research has investigated vitamin D's role in a huge variety of health conditions and found that supplementation may be a key therapeutic treatment in many serious diseases. In fact, keeping levels up may help to prevent a range of chronic conditions.
Most vitamin D is made through a reaction caused by UV rays from the sun interacting with chemicals in the skin. This creates pre-vitamin D which must then be metabolised through the kidneys and liver with the help of magnesium into its active form – quite a long process for such an essential nutrient! Vitamin D levels can suffer from any hiccup during this process such as low levels of magnesium from stress, or sluggish liver from too many toxins. And the latest research suggests that low levels can have more serious consequences than we once thought:
Vitamin D has now been linked to the autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This year, researchers found that a low level of vitamin D was common in people who were recently diagnosed with RA .
They also found that chronically low levels could increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance developing as a result of the autoimmune condition.
Another set of researchers showed that vitamin D can control inflammation in RA  and another showed the vitamin-hormone can help protect against RA comorbid conditions like gingivitis and bone fractures .
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Researchers have found that adequate vitamin D is required to preserve neurological development and protect the adult brain . A massive review of the literature in 2017 suggests that vitamin D3 supplementation could help to relieve symptoms and progression of neurodegenerative diseases in people with low levels – supplemental vitamin D3 may help to improve bone strength, cognition and reduce disability in multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer disease and Parkinson's disease . Keeping levels within the normal range may also help to prevent the onset of these conditions. Because neurological disease can reduce mobility and sun exposure, supplementation can be a valuable intervention .
Click Here For Article on Alzheimer disease
Click Here For Article on Parkinson's disease
Vitamin D deficiency has recently emerged as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
This year, researchers concluded that low vitamin D levels can contribute to hypertension, atrial fibrillation, problems with arteries, onset of metabolic syndrome and type-2 diabetes . Significantly, one study showed a link between vitamin D levels and cardiovascular risk in otherwise healthy adults as young as 18 years old !
In 2017, we also learned that supplementing with vitamin D could help to relieve cardiovascular issues – one study found that supplementing with vitamin D3 reduced arterial stiffening in African-Americans with cardiovascular disease .
A groundbreaking 2017 meta-analysis concluded that vitamin D supplementation is a powerful preventative against colds, flus and other acute respiratory tract infections. Taking weekly or daily supplements protected against infection, but taking a major dose at one time did not exert the same effect. The researchers found that the benefits aren't limited to those with a vitamin D deficiency – supplements can even boost immune defences in to people who have normal vitamin D levels! 
Vitamin D has been linked to healthy weight management due to its role in metabolism and hormone pathways.
This year, researchers have explored the link between deficiency and obesity in many different populations, including Spanish children , black South African communities , and older Mexican adults , all concluding that low vitamin D is connected to higher BMI and associated health concerns.
Additionally, sleep apnoea was significantly linked to an increased likelihood of vitamin D deficiency, though it's unclear which develops first .
Sun exposure is still the major source of vitamin D, but the digestive system can absorb some vitamin D from food. Vitamin D can be consumed in two forms – vitamin D2 is found in plant sources, mostly in fungi (in fact, you can boost the D2 in mushrooms by putting them in the sun!). Vitamin D3 is found in animal products, particularly eggs. However, a 2017 study concluded that vitamin D3 is twice as powerful as vitamin D2 when it comes to raising blood levels of vitamin D . If you're looking to boost your vitamin D through food alone, opting for animal products or D3 supplement is faster and more efficient than D2 from plant sources.
Vitamin D supplements are found in different forms – capsules, drops and sprays are the most common, while powders and patches are less popular. Vitamin D in capsules is swallowed and digested through the stomach and absorbed in the intestines. Unfortunately, the acids and churning of the digestive system create an unstable environment for vitamin D, limiting the amount that can be absorbed by the small intestines. From a capsule, you can expect ~50% of the dose to make it into the bloodstream, and the rest will be eliminated through the bowels.
Sprays and drops bypassing the digestive system all together. These types of supplements are absorbed straight into the blood stream when they are applied to the soft tissue inside the mouth. Research suggests that sprays and drops will give you the biggest bang for your buck , but capsules are fine if you find them more convenient. Have your vitamin D levels checked regularly, especially before the winter season, and speak to your doctor or naturopath for advice on dosage and frequency of taking a vitamin D supplement.
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