September 3rd, 2010
By: David Gutierrez
Growing awareness about the prevalence and risks of vitamin D deficiency is leading more and more doctors to test their patients’ blood levels of the vitamin.
“Upwards of 70 percent of American adults are vitamin D deficient or insufficient,” said cardiologist James O’Keefe of St. Luke’s Mid-America Heart Institute. “In the last year, awareness of vitamin D deficiency has really exploded.”
Vitamin D is more properly classified as a hormone, and it helps regulate gene function in various parts of the body. It is naturally synthesized in the skin upon exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight, but sedentism and growing use of sunblock have worsened deficiency rates in recent decades.
According to O’Keefe, vitamin D testing has become the most popular “a la carte” blood test ordered by doctors in the past year. The test costs about $100, and is covered by some insurance providers.
Vitamin D is known to play a role in bone health and immune function, but many doctors are now fingering deficiency for a number of more general complaints. Carla Aamodt, another doctor at St. Luke’s, notes that when she orders supplementation for patients with vitamin D levels below 10 nanograms per milliliter, the patients feel better overall, have more energy with less muscle aches and pains.”
The jury is still out on optimal vitamin D levels, but researchers agree that they fall somewhere between 30 and 40 nanograms per milliliter.
Billie Howard Barnes of Kansas City suffered from chronic pain until her doctor ordered a vitamin D test and discovered that her blood levels were a paltry 5 nanograms per milliliter.
“I’m 43, and getting up in the morning, my feet would hit the floor and every joint in my body was sore,” Barnes said. “I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten. It just kind of crept up on me.”
After taking a high-dose supplement for a few weeks, Barnes began to recover.
“It wasn’t an instant thing, but I just feel much better,” she said. “I’m not as stiff. Colleagues say there’s more pep in my step.”
November 25, 2009
The Times of India
About 70 percent of the population of the United States has insufficient levels of vitamin D. This is a critical issue as we learn more about the many roles it may play in fighting infection, balancing your immune response, helping to address autoimmune problems, and even preventing heart diseaseHYPERLINK \l “”,” said Adrian Gombart, a principal investigator with the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.
Among other findings about benefits of Vitamin D is the ones made by OSU scientists that it induces the “expression” of cathelicidin, an antimicrobial peptide gene.
This explains in part how it helps serve as the first line of defense in your immune response against minor wounds, cuts, and both bacterial and viral infections.
Experts believe advances in the use of cathelicidin may form the basis for new therapies.
“Vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency is a world-wide, public health problem in both developed and developing nations. Nearly one billion people world-wide are deficient,” the new report concluded.
The new report found that low levels of circulating vitamin D are associated with increased risk and mortality from cancer.
Vitamin D plays an important role in activating the immune system, fostering the “innate” immune response and controlling over-reaction of adaptive immunity, and as such may help control autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.
The regulation of cathelicidin by vitamin D, a unique biological pathway for the function of vitamin D that could help explain its multiple roles in proper immune function, is so important that it’s only known to exist in two groups of animals – humans and non-human primates – and has been conserved in them through millions of years of evolution.
Epidemiological studies show a link between vitamin D deficiency and increased rates of respiratory infection and influenza, and it has been hypothesized that flu epidemics may be the result of vitamin D deficiency.
Higher levels of a protein linked to vitamin D have been associated with reduced infections and longer survival of dialysis patients.
Vitamin D has important roles in reducing inflammation, blood pressure and helping to protect against heart disease.