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New Research on How Sunshine Decreases Infections

November 29, 2007 | 55,331 views
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A study of more than 2,000 women has found those with higher vitamin D levels showed fewer aging-related changes in their DNA, as well as lowered inflammatory responses.

A second study, examining almost 1,000 patients in West Africa, showed that low vitamin D levels are common among tuberculosis (TB) patients. Lack of vitamin D has been linked in previous studies to multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, and other diseases.

Cells have built-in DNA clocks, known as telomeres. Measuring the length of these strands of DNA is one way of examining the aging process at a cellular level.

Women with higher levels of vitamin D are more likely to have longer telomeres, and vice versa. This means that people with higher levels of vitamin D may actually age more slowly than people with lower levels of vitamin D.

No wonder vitamin D has a protective effect on so many diseases, ranging from MS and TB, to heart disease and cancer -- it keeps your body young!

How Vitamin D Performance Testing Can Help Optimize Your Health

A robust and growing body of research clearly shows that vitamin D is absolutely critical for good health and disease prevention. Vitamin D affects your DNA through vitamin D receptors (VDRs), which bind to specific locations of the human genome. Scientists have identified nearly 3,000 genes that are influenced by vitamin D levels, and vitamin D receptors have been found throughout the human body.

Is it any wonder then that no matter what disease or condition is investigated, vitamin D appears to play a crucial role? This is why I am so excited about the D*Action Project by GrassrootsHealth. It is showing how you can take action today on known science with a consensus of experts without waiting for institutional lethargy. It has shown how by combining the science of measurement (of vitamin D levels) with the personal choice of taking action and, the value of education about individual measures that one can truly be in charge of their own health.

In order to spread this health movement to more communities, the project needs your involvement. This was an ongoing campaign during the month of February, and will become an annual event.

To participate, simply purchase the D*Action Measurement Kit and follow the registration instructions included. (Please note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the kits go to fund the research project. I do not charge a single dime as a distributor of the test kits.)

As a participant, you agree to test your vitamin D levels twice a year during a five-year study, and share your health status to demonstrate the public health impact of this nutrient. There is a $65 fee every six months for your sponsorship of this research project, which includes a test kit to be used at home, and electronic reports on your ongoing progress. You will get a follow up email every six months reminding you "it's time for your next test and health survey."

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Dr. Mercola's Comments:

These latest studies confirm previous findings that vitamin D plays a vital role in preventing and treating tuberculosis, and increases your body’s capacity to ward off autoimmune diseases, and slow down physical aging. 

Vitamin D deficiency is a growing epidemic across the world and is contributing to many chronic debilitating diseases – many of which conventional medicine insist need to be treated with vaccines and medication, rather than recommending proper sunlight exposure.  

In the United States, the late winter vitamin D average is so low it falls within the category of “serious deficiency.”  

The Connection Between Vitamin D Deficiency and Tuberculosis

Although nearly one third of the word’s population carries the mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria, only about 0.2 percent of those infected with tuberculosis (TB) actually develop a clinically significant infection This is a very powerful indicator that something other than the bug itself is responsible for developing the disease.

Clearly vitamin D is a strong candidate for one of those factors. Several studies have appeared in the last decade, indicating that vitamin D is one of the major keys that dictate whether you will come down with the disease. These studies have all come to similar conclusions; vitamin D deficiency sets off the disease if you are a carrier of the bacteria.

One previous study was able to show an astonishing 100 percent resolution rate by treating TB patients with 10,000 units of vitamin D daily (compared with the 400 units usually advocated by conventional medicine).

How does this work?

Your white blood cells convert vitamin D into an active form, which helps form a protein that kills the tuberculosis bacteria. The presence of TB bacteria does not lower your vitamin D concentration, but rather the more severe your vitamin D deficiency is, the higher your risk of developing the active form of TB.

In the latest research referenced above (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 86(5), 1376-1383, November 2007), they studied this theory on patients in sub-Saharan Africa where the TB incidence is high.

African Americans normally have significantly lower serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations than do whites, and have a statistically greater susceptibility to TB infection.

Not surprisingly, they found that mild vitamin D insufficiencies were far more prevalent in the TB group than severe deficiencies, which suggests that even small amounts of supplementation can be beneficial in reducing your chances of getting the active disease. It’s also believed that your individual metabolism of vitamin D may play a role, but it’s still not known whether your vitamin D concentration influences your vitamin metabolism, or the other way around.

How Vitamin D Can Help Prevent Inflammatory Diseases 

The second study referenced above offers additional confirmation that proper sun exposure reduces your risk of developing inflammatory- and autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 1 diabetes. 

How? 

Leukocyte telomeres are the ends of your chromosomes, which become shorter with each cell turnover. Cell turnover, in turn, is accelerated by oxidative stress.  

Your leukocyte telomere length (LTL) is a predictor for aging related diseases. As you age, your LTL’s become shorter, but, if you suffer from chronic inflammation, your telomeres decrease in length much faster, because your body’s inflammatory response accelerates leukocyte turnover. 

Your vitamin D concentrations also decrease with age, whereas your C-reactive protein (a mediator of inflammation) increases. This inverse double-whammy increases your overall risk of developing autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis

The good news is that vitamin D is a potent inhibitor of your body’s inflammatory response, and by reducing inflammation, you diminish your turnover of leukocytes, effectively creating a positive chain reaction that can help protect you against a variety of diseases. In essence, it protects your body from the deterioration of aging.  

This research found that subsets of leukocytes have receptors for the active form of vitamin D (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin, or vitamin D3), which allows the vitamin to have a direct effect on these cells. This may explain the specific connection between vitamin D and autoimmune disease. 

Dietary Impact on Autoimmune Diseases 

The third study included in this article shows how your diet, in addition to vitamin D from sunlight exposure, affects your leukocytes, and hence your cellular aging and deterioration. 

Specifically, high-fat diets, glucose (sugar), and mixed carbohydrates and fat were linked to chromosomal damage by activating your body’s inflammation response -- quite likely from the creation of endotoxins in your gut.  

Folks, it’s time to realize that everything in your body is inter-connected.  

You cannot inflict damage in one area without causing problems in other systems, and I’ve written extensively about the necessity to abstain from sugar and grains, and to get adequate sunlight exposure in order to optimize your health.  

Following my nutrition plan automatically helps you reduce, or eliminate, these two non-essentials from your diet. Additionally, I’ve revised and refined my basic recommendations for optimal health to ten easy basics. If you incorporate these recommendations into your life, your chances of maintaining vibrant health will be vastly increased.  

Why? 

Because it’s not about rocket science. It’s about “seeding” the lay of your land – your body – with the basic stuff it needs. Your body’s intelligence will do the rest, rewarding you with optimal health, which includes freedom from disease. 

What Other Health Impact Does Proper Sunlight Exposure Have? 

Optimizing your vitamin D levels could also help you to prevent as many as 16 different types of cancer including pancreatic, lung, breast, ovarian, prostate, and colon cancers.

Its protective effect against cancer works in several ways, including: 

  • Increasing the self-destruction of mutated cells (which, if allowed to replicate, could lead to cancer)
  • Reducing the spread and reproduction of cancer cells
  • Causing cells to become differentiated (cancer cells often lack differentiation)
  • Reducing the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, which is a step in the transition of dormant tumors turning cancerous 

Previous studies have found that more than one million people die every year from lack of sun exposure and subsequent vitamin D deficiency, so fear of the sun is really something that needs to be overcome. 

All Vitamin D is NOT Created Equal 

Although there are vitamin D supplements on the market, I do not recommend supplementing with oral vitamin D, as it is very easy to overdose. Instead, your safest bet is to get your vitamin D from natural sunlight exposure.  

Unlike other vitamins, vitamin D is actually a steroid hormone precursor that is created by your body after exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun. This is the active vitamin D, or vitamin D3 referred to above. Nearly all the prescription-based supplements are synthetic vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol), which is FAR LESS effective.  

I recommend getting your vitamin D level tested before beginning any kind of supplementation. Please bear in mind when you go for the test that there are TWO vitamin D tests: 1,25(OH)D and 25(OH)D. The correct test your doctor needs to order is 25(OH)D, also called 25-hydroxyvitamin D, as it’s a much better marker of overall vitamin D status. 

Normal 25-hydroxyvitamin D lab values are 20-56 ng/ml (50-140 nmol/l). However, this range is far too broad to be ideal. In fact, your vitamin D level should never be below 32 ng/ml, and any levels below 20 ng/ml are considered serious deficiency states. Instead, the OPTIMAL value you’re looking for is 50-55 ng/ml (115-128 nmol/l). 

Keep an eye out for my forthcoming book, Dark Deception, which is slated for publication in 2008. It will take an in-depth look at all of the various issues relating to sunscreen, cancer, vitamin D, and sunlight -- and expose why the conventional wisdom to stay out of the sun is dead wrong.

How Vitamin D Performance Testing Can Help Optimize Your Health

Additionally, a robust and growing body of research clearly shows that vitamin D is absolutely critical for good health and disease prevention. Vitamin D affects your DNA through vitamin D receptors (VDRs), which bind to specific locations of the human genome. Scientists have identified nearly 3,000 genes that are influenced by vitamin D levels, and vitamin D receptors have been found throughout the human body.

Is it any wonder then that no matter what disease or condition is investigated, vitamin D appears to play a crucial role? This is why I am so excited about the D*Action Project by GrassrootsHealth. It is showing how you can take action today on known science with a consensus of experts without waiting for institutional lethargy. It has shown how by combining the science of measurement (of vitamin D levels) with the personal choice of taking action and, the value of education about individual measures that one can truly be in charge of their own health.

In order to spread this health movement to more communities, the project needs your involvement. This is an ongoing campaign during the month of February, and will become an annual event.

To participate, simply purchase the D*Action Measurement Kit and follow the registration instructions included. (Please note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the kits go to fund the research project. I do not charge a single dime as a distributor of the test kits.)

As a participant, you agree to test your vitamin D levels twice a year during a five year program, and share your health status to demonstrate the public health impact of this nutrient. There is a $65 fee every 6 months for your sponsorship of the project, which includes a test kit to be used at home, and electronic reports on your ongoing progress. You will get a follow up email every six months reminding you "it's time for your next test and health survey."

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