Vitamin D has long been lauded for its ability to help strengthen bones, for basic muscle function and to aid with some skin conditions, but the full aptitude of vitamin D has not yet been unlocked. There seems to be potential for treating mood disorders, bolstering the immune system and even helping those suffering from prostate cancer. Even though the most potent source of vitamin D is free and literally falls out of the sky as sunlight, the vast majority of people do not get enough of it. Two doctors from the Boston University Medical Center who published an article in the American Journal of Nutrition went so far as to call vitamin D deficiency a “pandemic.”
Over the last two weeks, vitamin D has been popping up in then news over and over again. Here are findings from six of the latest studies.
1. Vitamin D helps immune cells prevent atherosclerosis, diabetes. (Source: Science Daily)
The results of this study suggest that when immune cells don’t get enough or can’t process vitamin D correctly, a person can suffer from inflammation and other serious health woes. Findings also suggest that low levels of vitamin D may be linked to atherosclerosis and diabetes.
2. Vitamin D supplements may reverse progression of low-grade prostate tumors (Source: Medical News Today)
When someone who is afflicted with prostate cancer is biopsied, inflammation occurs and they must wait for sixty days before the cancer can be removed. Scientists wanted to see if vitamin D could help during this waiting period. Over half of the men (55%) who took vitamin D supplements saw a reduction in their Gleason scores–the method of determining how aggressive a cancer is. The higher the number, the more aggressive the tumor. Some of the men who took vitamin D saw their tumors disappear. The men in the placebo group did not see change or their conditions worsened.
“We don’t know yet whether vitamin D treats or prevents prostate cancer,” cautions Hollis. “At the minimum, what it may do is keep lower-grade prostate cancers from going ballistic.”
Note: This information should not be taken as medical advice.
3. Low vitamin D levels, depression linked in young women, new study shows (Source: Science Daily)
Researchers at Oregon State University studied the blood and moods of 185 healthy young women in the Pacific Northwest. (It rains a lot there and is cloudy, so less sun). 61% of the participants had insufficient levels of vitamin D. A third of the otherwise healthy participants suffered from depression. The researchers believe that a lack of vitamin D may be the culprit but more research was needed.
4. Vitamin D may help prevent, treat diseases associated with aging (Source: Science Daily)
This story comes to us out of Loyola University. Older people are at greater risk for vitamin D deficiency due to less time outdoors and poorer ability to absorb the nutrient through the skin. Researchers reviewed studies and other evidence and now believe that there might be links between vitamin D deficiency and aged-related illnesses like cognitive decline, depression, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and cancer. As the elderly population grows, the researchers suggest that a better understanding of vitamin D is needed to help treat the aging accordingly.
5. Recommendation for vitamin D intake was miscalculated, is far too low, experts say (Source: Science Daily)
Some researchers believe that the recommended intake of Vitamin D is way too low. Instead of 600 IU a day, we should be getting 7,000 IU a day.
The recommended intake of vitamin D specified by the IOM is 600 IU/day through age 70 years, and 800 IU/day for older ages. “Calculations by us and other researchers have shown that these doses are only about one-tenth those needed to cut incidence of diseases related to vitamin D deficiency,” Garland explained.
Robert Heaney, M.D., of Creighton University wrote: “We call for the NAS-IOM and all public health authorities concerned with transmitting accurate nutritional information to the public to designate, as the RDA, a value of approximately 7,000 IU/day from all sources.”
“This intake is well below the upper level intake specified by IOM as safe for teens and adults, 10,000 IU/day,” Garland said. Other authors were C. Baggerly and C. French, of GrassrootsHealth, a voluntary organization in San Diego CA, and E.D. Gorham, Ph.D., of UC San Diego.
Also, not to be taken as medical advice. Always see your own individual physician before making any drastic dietary changes.
6. Vitamin D vital for gene expression in developing brains (Source: Medical Xpress)
Australian researchers examined pregnant mice. The mice who were born of vitamin-D-deficient mothers tended to have smaller heads, smaller ventricle volumes (heart chamber size) and altered gene expression in the brain. Researchers believe that these alterations could negatively impact the speech and mood centers of the brain.