Researchers found that vitamin D acts directly on the beta defensin 2 gene, which encodes an antimicrobial peptide, and the NOD2 gene that alerts cells to the presence of invading microbes.
Both beta defensin and NOD2 have been linked to Crohn's disease. If NOD2 is deficient or defective, it cannot combat invaders in the intestinal tract.
In my view it is reprehensible and irresponsible not to measure the levels of vitamin D in patients with this disease. You need to measure the vitamin D level in your blood, as it is virtually impossible to simply know whether or not it is in the therapeutic levels of 55 to 65 ng/ml.
If you or someone you know has this disease, please beg them to get their vitamin D level monitored. Most adults need at least 5000 units per day, but some may actually require up to 50,000 units per day. There is just no way of knowing without measuring.
Also there is NO benefit, and likely some harm if you take too much. So simply popping loads of vitamin D pills is not the way to optimize your vitamin D. The only time you don't need to measure your vitamin D levels is when you have nearly daily access to high quality sunshine.
Crohn's Disease is an Immune System Disorder
Crohn's disease is a chronic condition that causes inflammation of your gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
Any area of your digestive tract can be affected, from your mouth to your anus, but Crohn's most commonly affects the lower part of your small intestine known as the ileum. Swelling from the inflammation can be painful and often results in diarrhea.
Crohn's is found in men and women in equal numbers and seems to have a genetic component. About 20 percent of Crohn's sufferers also have a relative – usually a parent or sibling -- with some form of inflammatory bowel disease.
The cause of Crohn's is thought to be impairment in the way your immune system handles intestinal bacteria. This improper immune system response leads to an inflammatory condition that can result in an autoimmune disorder.
If you have an autoimmune disorder, it means your immune system is attacking and destroying healthy body tissue.
Vitamin D is the Miracle Nutrient for Your Immune System
One of the reasons that vitamin D may work is that it helps your body produce over 200 anti microbial peptides that help fight all sorts of infections. There are many experts that believe inflammatory bowl disease has an infectious trigger.
From a recent Oregon State University press release:
A new study has concluded that one key part of the immune system, the ability of vitamin D to regulate anti-bactericidal proteins, is so important that it has been conserved through almost 60 million years of evolution and is shared only by primates, including humans – but no other known animal species.
The fact that this vitamin-D mediated immune response has been retained through millions of years of evolutionary selection, and is still found in species ranging from squirrel monkeys to baboons and humans, suggests that it must be critical to their survival, researchers say.
Even though the "cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide" has several different biological activities in addition to killing pathogens, it's not clear which one, or combination of them, makes vitamin D so essential to its regulation.
The research also provides further evidence of the biological importance of adequate levels of vitamin D in humans and other primates, even as some studies and experts suggest that more than 50 percent of the children and adults in the U.S. are deficient in "the sunshine vitamin."
"The existence and importance of this part of our immune response makes it clear that humans and other primates need to maintain sufficient levels of vitamin D," said Adrian Gombart, an associate professor of biochemistry and a principal investigator with the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.
In simple terms, if you're vitamin D deficient, your immune system will not activate to do its job. And since vitamin D also modulates (balances) your immune response, it prevents an overreaction in the form of inflammation, which can lead to autoimmune disorders like Crohn's disease.
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?
As I said previously, the only way to determine the correct oral dose of vitamin D is to have your blood tested.
I recommend using Lab Corp in the U.S.
Getting the correct test is the first step in this process, as there are TWO vitamin D tests currently being offered: 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, which is the better marker of overall D status. This is the marker that is most strongly associated with overall health.
Next, the "normal" 25-hydroxyvitamin D lab range is between 20-56 ng/ml. As you can see in the chart below, this conventional range is really a sign of deficiency, and is 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, increasing your risk of as many as 16 different cancers and autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, just to name a few.
The OPTIMAL value that you're looking for is 55-65 ng/ml.
This range applies for everyone; children, adolescents, adults and seniors.
These ranges are based on healthy people in tropical or subtropical parts of the world, where they are receiving healthy sun exposures. It seems more than reasonable to assume that these values are in fact reflective of an optimal human requirement.
Keeping your level in this range, and even erring toward the higher numbers in this range, is going to give you the most protective benefit. And the way you maintain your levels within this range is by getting tested regularly -- say two to four times a year in the beginning, and adjusting your vitamin D intake accordingly.
Vitamind.Mercola.com: New Resource for all the Latest Vitamin D News
Vitamin D, the powerful "sunshine" nutrient, is known for its many wonderful benefits including protection from multiple sclerosis, diabetes, cancer, and other diseases.
Because it is so vital to your health, I've added a special section to my website dedicated exclusively to keeping my readers updated on all the late-breaking vitamin D news.
Vitamind.Mercola.com provides you with important vitamin D resources you can't easily find on the web, such as articles, tips and an online forum that will help you avoid vitamin D deficiency and lead a healthier life.
I encourage you to bookmark this link and visit it often to stay on top of all the latest research and guidance on optimizing and maintaining your vitamin D levels.