The many benefits of vitamin D

SINGAPORE — Vitamin D helps our bodies regulate the levels of calcium and phosphates — nutrients that preserve healthy bones, teeth and muscles. Often our skin can be common enough sunlight to produce all the vitamin D that we need. But when sunlight is not enough vitamin D, take in, and can be difficult to achieve the recommended levels through food. This is very important because the health benefits from adequate consumption of vitamin D can be much greater than previously thought.

Vitamin D deficiency is widespread and it is observed in approximately one billion people of all age groups and ethnicities who suffer from it even in countries with year-round sunshine. Indeed, this deficiency is particularly common in the middle East, partly due to the fact that there are clothes, almost completely covering the body and the cultural habits of avoiding exposure to the sun. The same tradition along with having darker skin reduces vitamin D levels among Africans.

Even in industrialized countries, doctors say the resurgence of rickets — a disease that affects the bones and which was largely eliminated through the intake of fortified milk and other products. And rickets is not the only disease that can contribute to a deficiency of vitamin D. Results from studies conducted in the past decade suggests that vitamin D plays a much more important role in the fight against disease than previously thought.

For example, when holding additional professional health studies it was found that men deficient in vitamin D have twice the likelihood of heart attacks compared with men who had the necessary levels of vitamin D. other studies have found links between low levels of vitamin D and higher risk of heart failure, sudden cardiac death, stroke, and total cardiovascular diseases. Another study showed that daily vitamin D supplementation can improve cardiac function in people with chronic heart failure.

Dozens of other studies indicate a potential link between low levels of vitamin D and increased risk of cancer, especially cancer of the colon and rectum (although based on the currently available information it is impossible to affirm that supplements of vitamin D reduce the risk of cancer). Likewise, vitamin D levels can to some extent help in predicting the probability of survival of malignant tumors (although evidence of this also remain limited).

There are more and multiple sclerosis, which appears much less frequently in a more Sunny climate, which may be only partially associated with higher levels of vitamin D. In one study, it was discovered that suffering among multiple sclerosis patients with lower levels of relapse discovered in those patients who took a large dose supplements of vitamin D. Another study showed that patients with the highest vitamin D blood levels had a 62% lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis than people with the lowest vitamin d levels.

Also held during the 30 year study in Finland showed that children who regularly received vitamin D supplements during infancy, the risk of development of type I diabetes was lower by almost 90%, compared to those children who did not receive such supplementation of vitamin D. Other studies of similar cases in Europe have reaffirmed the conclusion that vitamin D may help prevent type I diabetes.

Even obesity may have a link with vitamin D. a Clinical study found that supplementation with obesity and overweight people with vitamin D deficiency helps in reducing weight and increases the efficiency of a diet low calorie. Another study showed that women on diets with insufficient amounts of calcium after adding calcium and vitamin D burned more fat than those who did not.

In addition to these examples, vitamin D also helps to fight infection. Scientists have discovered that vitamin D is necessary for activation of T-lymphocytes of the immune system that circulates throughout the body, detect harmful pathogens and attack them.

This explains, at least in part, why the disease caused by the influenza virus, peak in the winter months (in temperate climates). This seasonality has allowed a British doctor to hypothesize that outbreaks of influenza are associated with sunlight — “seasonal stimulus.” Selective control study conducted with the participation of Japanese children showed that the incidence of influenza a among receive supplements of vitamin D were about 40% lower than those children who took a placebo; it does not found significant difference in the frequency of the disease in influenza type B. a recent study found that vitamin D was safe and gave a protective effect against acute respiratory infections.

The role of vitamin D in fighting infections is not new. Before it was opened antibiotics, sunlight was part of the standard treatment of tuberculosis (TB). The study showed that TB patients recovered faster when vitamin D was given along with the antibiotics. A comprehensive analysis of several other studies have suggested that people diagnosed with tuberculosis had lower levels of vitamin D than healthy people of the same age, having similar characteristics.

It is necessary to conduct additional studies before we can be sure these positive effects, but recent results are a source of great hope. In any case, there is no doubt that vitamin D is critical for human health.

So how much vitamin D we should consume to get positive results in the fight against diseases? The Institute of medicine advises to triple the recommended daily intake of vitamin D for children and adults in the United States and Canada to 600 IU (15 micrograms) per day. Health authorities in Britain recommend dietary standard for adults and children after one year of 400 IU (10 mcg) per day. Given the fact that very few products in the natural environment contain vitamin D, achieving these levels may require conscious effort.

Some people may need higher doses than the recommended dietary norm. This includes people who are obese or taking sedatives, immunosuppressive agents, fungicides (antifungal drugs) such as ketoconazole or medicine to treat HIV/AIDS, so it is very important to consult a doctor before starting this regimen. Ingestion of too much vitamin D — more than 10 thousand IU per day — may cause damage to the kidneys and tissues and cause hypercalcemia (accumulation of calcium in the blood).

We still need a few years of clinical trials to study possible relations of supplemental vitamin D and higher levels of vitamin D with reduced risk of diseases. However given the relationship of health status data — low levels of vitamin D were associated with a doubled risk of premature death — these studies are extremely important. In health so many factors can totally change the overall situation. Perhaps vitamin D will be one of these factors.