(NaturalNews) Mounting research shows that huge numbers of people are deficient in vitamin D - and that a deficiency of that vitamin could be linked to all sorts of health problems, many of them serious. But could taking vitamin D supplements benefit people who appear to be healthy? The answer is a resounding "yes."
Research from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) concludes that increasing the level of vitamin D in the blood could have a myriad of important health benefits. The study, just published online in PLOS ONE, reveals that upping vitamin D status in healthy adults significantly impacts genes involved with a number of biologic pathways associated with cancer, cardiovascular disease (CVD), infectious diseases and autoimmune diseases.
Although it's true that earlier studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk for the these diseases, the new study is the first to provide direct evidence that improvement in vitamin D status plays a large role in improving immunity and lowering the risk for many serious and potentially deadly diseases.
Vitamin D can be taken orally and is also synthesized by the body with sun exposure. A person's level of vitamin D in the body is measured by a blood test that shows the level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the blood. Vitamin D deficiency, usually defined as a status of less than 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, has long been recognized as causing number of health problems such as rickets and other musculoskeletal diseases. But in recent years, as Natural News has previously reported, scientists have found a link between vitamin D deficiency and other major illnesses including MS, breast cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.
For the new BUSM study, the researchers conducted a randomized, double-blind trial involving eight healthy men and women with an average age of 27. All the research subjects were vitamin D deficient or insufficient at the start of the trial. Three study participants took 400 International Units (IU) of vitamin D per day and five received 2,000 IU each day for two months. Samples of white blood cells, part of the body's immune system, were collected at the beginning of the study period and also at the end. In addition, a broad gene expression analysis was conducted on these samples. In all, over 22,500 genes were studied to see if their activity increased or decreased as a result of taking vitamin D.
The results of the study showed that the research subjects who took 2000 IU achieved a vitamin D status of 34 ng/mL, which is considered sufficient, while the group that received 400 IU achieved an insufficient status of 25 ng/mL. The investigation of gene expression analysis found having enough vitamin D in the body sparked statistically significant alterations in the activity of 291 genes that are related to 160 biologic pathways -- and these alterations could be key in preventing cancer, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases and cardiovascular disease (CVD).
"This study reveals the molecular fingerprints that help explain the non-skeletal health benefits of vitamin D," Michael F. Holick, PhD, MD, professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at BUSM and the study's corresponding author, said in a media statement. "While a larger study is necessary to confirm our observations, the data demonstrates that improving vitamin D status can have a dramatic effect on gene expression in our immune cells and may help explain the role of vitamin D in reducing the risk for CVD, cancer and other diseases."
About the author: Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA''''s "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine''''s "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic''''s "Men''''s Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.