How important is Vitamin D, really? Well, a Vitamin D deficiency could be the reason for several serious diseases.
You see, Vitamin D plays an important role in your health. It helps the body absorb calcium, which is essential for good bone health. It helps both the immune system and nervous system function properly. And research has shown that vitamin D is essential for brain health, as it protects the body from oxidative stress. The best way to get your daily dose of vitamin D is to enjoy some sunshine, but around 75% of Americans have a vitamin D deficiency. And unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency leads to other, bigger health problems. (1)
Here’s what could happen if you don’t get your daily dose of Vitamin D:
The body generates around 10,000 cancer cells each day. Vitamin D deficiency allows these cancer cells to proliferate and invade new tissue. When vitamin D levels are optimal, the body works harder to inhibit cancer progression and decrease inflammation. Vitamin D is an important part of a powerful and healthy immune system that nips cancer cells at the bud. When the body is deficient in vitamin D, autoimmune complications increase, which allows cancer cells to grow and spread. A long-term vitamin D deficiency leaves you at risk for multiple types of cancer, including breast, prostate, cervical, ovarian and pancreatic. (2)
2. Type 2 Diabetes
Some studies have shown that young people who have higher vitamin D levels decreased their chances of developing type 2 diabetes later in life, compared to those with lower vitamin D levels. Researchers believe that vitamin D can help the body manage blood sugar levels by regulating calcium. Without adequate vitamin D, the body may have a harder time managing blood sugar, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. (3)
The exact cause of asthma is unknown, but one theory is that not getting enough sun exposure and vitamin D may cause the illness. Here’s where the link is: Individuals are more likely to get asthma if they live in a city, are obese or are African American. These three groups of people are also more likely to be vitamin D deficient. When a person has asthma, their airways swell, clog with mucus and tighten due to inflammation. When the body has adequate vitamin D, inflammation is significantly reduced. (4)
4. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Studies have shown that people with IBD are more likely to have low levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D receptors are found on the surface of a cell where they receive chemical signals. These chemical signals direct a certain cell to divide or die. Vitamin D receptors can be found on cells in the digestive direct and the immune system. When the body has an adequate amount of vitamin D, it can reduce levels of inflammatory proteins that get produced. In someone who is vitamin D deficient, these inflammatory proteins are able to multiply, causing IBD. (5)
5. Bone Fractures / Poor Bone Development
We all need calcium to build strong bones, right? Well, did you also know that Vitamin D plays an important role in helping the body absorb calcium, which is essential for strong bones? Yep, and a vitamin D deficiency can cause a condition known as osteomalacia, which is a softening of the bones. It can also cause brittle bones and weak muscles. (6)
Studies over the years have varied about the relationship between Vitamin D and blood pressure. “According to Dr. Nissen, vitamin D does play an integral part in the regulation of blood pressure, but it’s a complicated process.” (7) So let’s uncomplicate it! You see, Vitamin D and calcium play important roles in the body, and calcium build up in soft tissues (that’s your arteries, folks!) can lead to hypertension.
At times, the body can produce too many cells in the muscle that lines your blood vessels. A build-up of these cells can cause plaque, making it harder for blood to travel through the body. Researchers have found that vitamin D can bind to these cells and help reduce the risk of plaque build-up. (8)
Despite a recent meta-analysis of randomized control studies concluding that vitamin D supplementation has little to no effect on hypertension, they admitted that participants did not have low vitamin D levels to begin with. So maybe, just maybe, their hypertension was caused by something other than Vitamin D deficiency. But that does not prove that actual Vitamin D deficiency does not lead to hypertension and therefore increasing serum D will improve blood pressure. (9)