Vitamin D is not a regular vitamin. It is actually a steroid hormone that you get primarily from either sun exposure or supplementation, and its ability to influence genetic expression is what produces many of its wide-ranging health benefits.
Researchers have pointed out that increasing levels of vitamin D3 among the general population could prevent chronic diseases that claim nearly one million lives throughout the world each year. Incidence of several types of cancer could also be slashed in half.
In a new study published on December 30th 2015, in the journal Neurology, the impact of vitamin D was tested on 80 MS patients. 40 were given a daily dose of 10,400 IU, and the other 40 were given 800 IU a day, for 6 months.
The high-dose group had significantly reduced levels of activity among a certain type of immune cell thought to be involved in multiple sclerosis, compared with those in the low-dose group. The scientists found that as blood levels of vitamin D went up, there was a corresponding decrease in the levels of CD4+ T cells and a protein they create (called interleukin-17), which encourages inflammation.
Lead scientist Dr Peter Calabresi, from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, said: “These results are exciting, as vitamin D has the potential to be an inexpensive, safe and convenient treatment for people with MS.”
Dr Sorrel Bickley, head of biomedical research at the MS Society said “This study, although small, provides new evidence about the safety of high doses of vitamin D and the effect this has on the immune system.”
The high dose group did not suffer any side effects. In fact, vitamin D toxicity or an overdose can only occur when taking 50,000 IU a day for several months; or if taking over 300,000 IU in a 24 hour period.
Blood levels should be monitored while taking high doses of vitamin D.
Although vitamin D toxicity is uncommon even among people who take supplements, you may be at greater risk if you have health problems, such as liver or kidney conditions, or if you take thiazide-type diuretics.
OMS recommends vitamin D supplements of around 5,000-10,000IU a day, aiming for a blood level of at least 150nmol/L (60ng/mL). In the latest HOLISM publication, published in the major neurology journal BMC Neurology, Professor Jelinek and his team have shown strong and significant associations between vitamin D supplementation and health outcomes for people with MS. For quality of life, increasing average daily doses of vitamin D were associated with graded improvements in quality of life, such that those taking the highest doses had the best quality of life. Similarly, those taking vitamin D supplements had around a third fewer relapses.
Vitamin D is in fact a solution to wide range of health issues. Vitamin D fights infections, including colds and the flu, as it regulates the expression of genes that influence your immune system to attack and destroy bacteria and viruses
Feeling tired and achy is a frequent complaint. While many are misdiagnosed as having fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue, these are classic signs of vitamin D deficiency osteomalacia. The remedy is a combination of vitamin D and calcium.
Researchers estimate that 50 percent of the general population is at risk of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency. Among school aged children, that percentage may be as high as 70 percent.
Taking vitamin K2 when taking high dose vitamin D.
It’s important to remember that if you’re taking high dose vitamin D supplements, you also need to take vitamin K2. The biological role of vitamin K2 is to help move calcium into the proper areas in your body, such as your bones and teeth. It also helps remove calcium from areas where it shouldn’t be, such as in your arteries and soft tissues.
Vitamin K2 deficiency is actually what produces the symptoms of vitamin D toxicity, which includes inappropriate calcification that can lead to hardening of your arteries. The reason for this is because when you take vitamin D, your body creates more vitamin K2-dependent proteins that move calcium around in your body. Without vitamin K2, those proteins remain inactivated, so the benefits of those proteins remain unrealized. So remember, if you take supplemental vitamin D, you’re creating an increased demand for K2. Together, these two nutrients help strengthen your bones and improve your heart health.
Getting vitamin D from the Sun
A smartphone app called DMinder tells you how much UV radiation you’re getting and how many units of vitamin D you’re making.
Getting enough D from the sun would require spending 10-15 minutes in the sun a day, when the UV index is 7. This is done with minimal clothing, and no sunscreen. Dr.Vieth recommends getting the dose of UV light just short of getting some colour on the skin on each occasion. Over time this tends to develop into a ‘healthy’ tan.
Each point on the UV index scale is equal to 25mW of energy per square metre of exposed skin. So if the UV index is 14, you need half the time for the same amount of vitamin D.
The UV index varies, and should be checked on your local weather website. The ideal time is between noon and 1 pm. Full body sun exposure 3 to 5 times a week is great.
Spending longer than required in the sun is not going to get you more vitamin D, and will raise the risk for skin cancer.