Information worth knowing about vitamin D
Vitamin D, also called the sunshine vitamin, has a lot of duties in our body.
First, a balanced vitamin D level works supportive on our immune system und is therefore a preventive measure against many diseases. The well being is also influenced by vitamin D.
For example body inflammations can be reduced, one can be relieved from stress, insomnia and agitated melancholia, the mental receptiveness und general vitality can be improved.
Several studies (e.g. Robert Koch Institute, Berlin; School of Earth Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, U.K.) found that 50-80% of the population in European countries is vitamin D insufficient in winter. Even in the summer months the majority of the population tend to have insufficient vitamin D levels.
It is well known that infants till the age of 2 years are getting vitamin D supplements to prevent rickets. Also the prevention of some bone diseases like osteoporosis with vitamin D is wide accepted.
More easy to recognize are higher nervousness, tiredness and inactivity. Insomnia and depression can also be symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency.
If you are vitamin D deficient the functions of some organs are restricted, what can lead to chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, heart attack and stroke. Several autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis can be influenced as well.
Few food sources contain vitamin D, like milk, eggs, butter and fatty fish. Men can only cover around 10% of the minimum requirement of vitamin D over diet.
In medical-scientific panels it is well accepted that men gets over 90% of the necessary vitamin D from the natural source, the UV B from the sunlight. Sunlight and regular sun bathing are essential for the vitamin D synthesis in the skin.
Our today’s lifestyle, the age and the work under artificial light prevent very often the optimal supply of vitamin D. Also the express and overcautious use of sun protection lotions can prevent the creation of vitamin D and can therefore be unproductive. Even fair skinned persons have a self protection of the skin which prevents a reddening or burning of the skin.
The vitamin D depots built in the summer months are used up fast and the proportion of UV B in the sunlight during the winter months (approx. October – March in Europe) is not sufficient enough to produce vitamin D.
Leading vitamin D experts recommend to sunbathing twice a week in a moderate manner. In doing so it is important that the maximum of the skin surface gets sunlight because vitamin D is produced in the skin. Sunbathing on the beach or garden is highly recommended. In the winter months a sun bed is an alternative. Contrary to the sunlight in a sun bed the intensity can be controlled and therefore the sunburn risk can be minimized and the health benefits can be maximized.
Vitamin D and Health
Vitamin D is essential for optimal health. Medical studies worldwide proofed the advantages and positive influence of vitamin D for the combat of many diseases. More unbelievable, but confirmed with numerous international studies, is that the sunshine hormone vitamin D is preventive respectively repressive against many kinds of cancer. The highest risk reductions were found in colon, breast and prostate cancer.
• Sun allergy and a natural solution
Sun allergy often arrives with the first sunrays in spring. Redness of the skin, itching bumps and small blisters appear on the skin after exposure to UV light. Twenty percent of the population in the European Union suffers from this allergy. Several scientific studies suggest that the best remedy is prevention, by a slow increase of sun exposure - this to allow the skin to again get used to the sun.
PLE is an overreaction of the immune system, triggered by exposure to ultraviolet light.
This "sun sensitivity or sun allergy" can be prevented, suggest scientists. As the allergic reaction is the result of a sudden step up of sun exposure after several months of sun abstinence", a slow exposure increase is the way to go.
When the skin is able to get used to the sunlight in small incremental steps, the normal reaction (natural pigmentation of the skin) will appear and an overreaction (like PLE) can be avoided.
In fact the immune system and the skin simply get the time to adapt to the sunrays.
Early spring or Mid-Summer
PLE often appears in early spring, which is logically since the skin has been banned from UV-light for months and the immune system lost its summer ability to handle UV sensibly. But even in Mid-summer, when the skin is already tanned, sun allergy can still occur.
For example when the skin is only exposed to a low intensity Northern Europe sun and suddenly on a holiday in the South of Spain is fully exposed, overwhelmed, to the more powerful sunrays there.
Source: Epidemiology and pathologic mechanisms of polymorphic light eruption Soe Janssens University of Leiden 2008
- multiple sclerosis
- rheumatoid arthritis
- type 1 diabetes
A study followed 1.000 women over 11 years and found that those with active sun habits had a 30% lower risk of having diabetes compared with non active sun habits.
Pelle G. Lindqvist a,*, Ha° kan Olsson b, Mona Landin-Olsson c
a Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Clintec, Karolinska University Hospital, Huddinge, Kvinnokliniken K 57,SE-14186 Stockholm, Sweden
b Department of Oncology and Cancer Epidemiology, Lund University Hospital, Lund University, Lund, Sweden c Department of Endocrinology, Clinical Science, Lund University Hospital, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
Symptoms of SAD:
- depression that begins in fall or winter
- lack of energy
- decreased interest in work or important activities
- increased appetite with weight gain
- carbohydrate and sugar cravings
- increased need for sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness
- social withdrawal
- extreme afternoon slumps with decreased energy and concentration
- decreased sex drive
By far the effective treatment for SAD is sunlight, or artificial bright light that replicates the effect of sunshine in the summer. In Norman Rosenthal`s study, he told a large group of patients that he was going to expose them to bright light, which might or might not help their conditions. He exposed half the patients to the kind of high-intensity light that stimulates midday summer sunshine (between 5,000 and 10,000 lux) and the rest of the equivalent to bright indorr household light . The patients did not know which type of light therapy they were getting. Almost all the SAD patients who were exposed to the high-intensity lights experienced a dramatic reduction in symptoms, whereas those in the yellow-light group saw no improvement. Numerous studies have duplicated these results.
Reference: Michael F. Holick, Ph.D., M.D., The Vitamin D Solution, page 124-125
22 kinds of cancer (e.g. breast, colon, prostate, ovarian, pancreatic)
Sun and a vitamin D-rich diet reduce the risk of breast cancer by up to 43 percent
Attested by a study among 70,000 women: the crucial aspect is sufficient UVB radiation; diet or food supplements merely have a supporting function
• Colon Cancer
Cancer of the colon and its neighbouring area, known sometimes as colorectal cancer, affects both men and women.
Like breast cancer and prostate cancer, colorectal cancer is seen much more frequently than skin cancers and is much more deadly. About 150.000 Americans are told each year that they have colon cancer, and about 35 percent of these will die of it. There are many contributing factors in why someone gets colon cancer, but the most commonly acknowledged one is diet. Diets high in fat and nonorganic non-grass-fed red meat are especially dangerous. Other diets, such as diets high in fruits, vegetables, and other natural raw and organic foods, help prevent colon cancer.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2008, conducted by lead researcher Dr. Kimmie Ng of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston found that high blood levels of 25-vitamin D increased colon cancer patient’s survival rate by 48 percent. In this study, Dr. Ng and her team collected data on 304 patients who had been diagnosed with colon cancer between 1991 and 2002. Everyone in the study had had their 25-vitamin D blood levels measured a minimum of two years before being diagnosed with the disease. The patients were tracked until they died or until the study ended 2005; 123 patients died, 96 of them from colon or rectal cancer during the follow-up period. Dr. Ng and her team found that the patients with the highest 25-vitamin D levels were 39 percent less likely to die from colorectal cancer then the patients who had the lowest levels.
These findings are consistent with dozens and dozens of other observations that have been made in the past decade, including those by Dr. Cedric Garland. His lab reports that you are three times lee likely to die from colon cancer if you have healthy levels of 25-vitamin D in your bloodstream.
Reference: Michael F. Holick, Ph.D., M.D., The Vitamin D Solution, page 82-83
• Breast Cancer
Regular sun exposure and a vitamin D-rich diet reduce the risk of developing breast cancer by around 32 to 43 percent. The deciding factor in prevention is exposure to adequate UVB rays. Admittedly food that is rich in vitamin D, such as fish, dairy products, eggs and certain types of oils or food supplements, can boost the effects of the sun, but used alone they have little effect on the occurrence or progression of the disease. These are the findings of researchers from the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research (Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale[INSRM]) in Paris, obtained during a study published in the professional journal “Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers”.
In this study, scientists observed around 70,000 women over a period of ten years. During this period, 2,871 cases of breast cancer were diagnosed. According to the study, women who live in sunny regions such as Provence and who eat a vitamin D-rich diet have a far lower risk of developing breast cancer than women who have less sun exposure, who live in cloudier areas and who ingest less vitamin D through their food or food supplements.
The conclusion of the research group: “A high dose of vitamin D via exposure to sunlight and nutrition is necessary in order to obtain a sufficient protective effect against breast cancer. However, this value is very difficult for women to achieve in northern countries as the sunlight in these regions is not strong enough to ensure a sufficient supply of vitamin D.”. Furthermore, the scientists explain, following the menopause it is far more difficult to achieve the protective effect from the combination of sun and a vitamin-D rich diet.
Pierre Engel, Guy Fagherazzi, Sylvie Mesrine, Marie-Christine Boutron-Ruault, Francoise Clavel-Chapelonet: “Joint Effects of Dietary Vitamin D and Sun Exposure on Breast Cancer Risk: Results from the French E3N Cohort”; in: Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2011;20:187-198. Published Online First December 2, 2010
Moderate UV radiation prevents development of white skin cancer
A study shows that vitamin D from sunshine prevents the formation of abnormal cells
Excessive, long-term sun exposure is one of the causes of so-called "white skin cancer". Excessive exposure to UV rays can damage the DNA in the cell nucleus to such an extent that the natural "repair mechanism" is no longer able to cope. This results in the formation of cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPD). In turn, these cause skin cancer due to the continual process of cell multiplication by cell division and can block the immune response. However, recent research increasingly suggests that sunshine itself can prevent and even cure "white skin cancer".
Laboratory experiments on mice carried out by researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia have shown how vitamin D in its active form (1,25(OH)2D3) can inhibit the multiplication of abnormal cells. The researchers discovered that this dangerous process can be slowed down or even halted by active vitamin D. In their laboratory tests, this resulted in much rarer occurrences of white skin cancers such as spinalioma (squamous-cell carcinoma) and benign epithelial tumours (papilloma).
The active form of vitamin D is 90% produced by a complicated metabolic process triggered by UV radiation from sunlight on the skin. This process involves the liver, the kidneys and the skin cells themselves. Generally, just a few minutes in the sun are enough to trigger this process – long before the UV rays have begun to cause irreparable damage to the DNA of the skin cells. So it's a question of getting just the right amount of sunshine in order to benefit from the positive effects of UV exposure, while avoiding the negative consequences.
Source: Katie M. Dixon, Anthony W. Norman, Vanessa B. Sequeira, Ritu Mohan, Mark S. Rybchyn, Vivienne E. Reeve, Gary M. Halliday, and Rebecca S. Mason: „1a,25(OH)2-Vitamin D and a Nongenomic Vitamin D Analogue Inhibit Ultraviolet Radiation–Induced Skin Carcinogenesis“; in: Cancer Prevention Research, 4(9) September 2011
Exposure to sunlight and UV is generally considered to be a risk factor for most forms of cancer, especially skin cancer. However a new study by Australian scientists shows that this general assumption is in fact unfounded.
The successful treatment and cure of esophageal cancer depends on several factors. These include the type of cancer, its stage of development and the age and general health of the patient. Esophageal cancer is often detected at a late stage of advancement, after it has already spread to the lymph nodes or attacked other organs. Once it has reached the advanced stage, the patient's chances of recovery are a mere 20% and life expectancy is on average 5 years.
Scientists at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Brisbane, Australia, led by Dr. Bich Tran, realised that very little research has been done into the link between esophageal cancer and UV rays in sunlight. In their study, they investigated the connection between moles, freckles and environmental exposure to sunlight and UV over a lifetime to the risk of contracting esophageal cancer.
For the purposes of the study, the researchers compared the estimated lifelong UV dose of almost 1,000 esophageal cancer sufferers with a control group of 1,500 persons. They discovered an inverse relationship between the amount of sunlight/UV exposure a person receives during their lifetime in the area where they live and the risk of contracting esophageal cancer. It is also interesting to note that the study was carried out in Australia. This is a country where increased UV exposure as a result of the hole in the ozone layer is considered extremely dangerous for human health.
However the study shows that the bad reputation of UV light – whether from natural sunlight or sunbeds – is often unjustified. "UV exposure from sunlight and sunbeds has many positive effects on human health. We recommend moderate exposure, as this is proven to increase vitamin D levels", Ad Brand of the Sunlight Research Forum (SRF) explains.
Quelle: Association between Ambient Ultraviolet Radiation and Risk of Esophageal Cancer Bich Tran, Robyn Lucas, Michael Kimlin, David Whiteman and Rachel Neale American Journal of Gastroenterology; Dec 2012, Vol. 107 Issue 12, p 1803
Sunshine vitamin prevents flu.
Study results prove: vitamin D supply is one of the key factors for the outbreak and the course of influenza epidemics
The vitamin D supply is one of the key factors for the outbreak and the course of influenza epidemics. Norwegian scientists have drawn this conclusion from a study on influenza epidemics, which has now been published in the specialist journal “International Journal of Infectious Diseases”.
According to this study, with these influenza epidemics the infection and mortality rates increase with decreasing exposure to sunlight and thus, with decreasing vitamin D supply. There are particularly drastic seasonal differences with regard to the proportion of deaths: the number of deaths increases during the “vitamin D winter“ up to 20 - 600 fold when the solar radiation is too weak for the vitamin D synthesis via the skin.
“Vitamin D has an antibiotic effect and strengthens the immune system. Stimulated by solar UV radiation, vitamin D is produced via the skin. During the winter months, the vitamin D level decreases as the sun is too low for vitamin D synthesis. Under these circumstances, the “sunshine vitamin” can no longer spread its protective effect to a sufficient extent”, explains Professor Johan Moan of the university of Oslo, one of the authors of the study, whilst explaining the context.
In their study, the scientists of the university of Oslo use data on influenza epidemics from Sweden, Norway, the USA, Singapore as well as Japan and compare the infection and mortality rates with the strength of the solar UV radiation on a monthly basis.
A summary of the study “„Asta Juzeniene, Li-Wei Ma, Mateusz Kwitniewski, Georgy A.Polev, Zoya Lagunova, Arne Dahlback, Johan Moan: The seasonality of pandemic and non-pandemic influenzas: the roles of solar radiation and vitamin D” is available on the SRF website www.sunlightresearchforum.eu to download.
Optimised supply of vitamin D prevents dental cavities
A study proves that the sunshine vitamin encourages the production of anti-microbial peptides
The risk of developing cavities can be significantly reduced through the optimised supply of vitamin D. A vitamin D level of at least 30 nanogrammes per millilitre of blood (30 ng/ml) encourages the body to produce its own anti-microbial peptides, including cathelicidins and defensins, which inhibit cavity pathogens. This was the result of a study carried out by William B. Grant, one of the best known experts worldwide in the field of vitamin D research, and presented in the professional journal “Dermato-Endocrinology“.
In this study in the USA, Grant evaluated 325 scientific studies covering a period from the middle of the 19th century to today and which prove the connection between the intensity of UV radiation and the formation of cavities. Grant explains the relationship as follows: “Cavities are significantly more common in geographical regions with lower levels of UV radiation intensity than in regions with higher levels. UV radiation encourages the production of vitamin D and vitamin D in turn is the motor for producing anti-microbial peptides which prevent cavities from forming”. Grant recommends placing greater emphasis of an optimised supply of vitamin D in dental prophylaxis.
Vitamin D production is stimulated by UV radiation with 90 percent of it being produced in the skin. An average vitamin D level of at least 30 nanogrammes per millilitre of blood (30 ng/ml) is generally considered by experts to be the value at which the positive effects of vitamin D are seen. Values between 40 and 60 ng/ml are considered optimal.
William B. Grant: “A review of the role of solar ultraviolet-B irradiance and vitamin D in reducing risk of dental caries”, in: Dermato-Endocrinology 3:3, 1-6; July/August/September 2011
Sunshine vitamin boosts fertility
A study reveals that the higher the vitamin D level, the greater the chance of pregnancy following artificial insemination
An optimum supply of vitamin D is one of the success factors for so-called in-vitro fertilisation, artificial insemination in a test tube. The results of a scientific study by the Faculty of Medicine at Kocaeli University in Turkey reveal that the higher the concentration of vitamin D in the follicular fluid surrounding the ovum, the greater the chance of pregnancy. The study involved 84 infertile women who underwent in-vitro fertilisation. According to the study, the women with the highest levels of vitamin D in their follicular fluid had a better chance of a successful pregnancy following artificial insemination. The statistical calculation shows how for every increase in vitamin D levels by one ng/mL, the likelihood of a pregnancy rises by 6%.
An average vitamin D level of 40 to 60 nanograms per millilitre of blood (40 - 60 ng/mL) is the scientific threshold above which vitamin D can best exert its positive effects. 90% of vitamin D is formed by the skin, its synthesis is activated by exposure to UV rays.
Ozkan S, Jindal S, Greenseid K, Shu J, Zeitlian G, Hickmon C, Pal L: Replete vitamin D stores predict reproductive success following in vitro fertilization; in: Fertility & Sterility, 2010 Sep; 94(4): 1314 - 9
Sperm switch into top gear with the sun
A study has proved that an adequate supply of vitamin D gives sperm an advantage in terms of motility, speed and penetration force
Men who top up on vitamin D in the sun or in a solarium, give their sperm an advantage in terms of motility, speed and penetration force. This was the conclusion of a study conducted by scientists from the University of Copenhagen investigating the role of vitamin D in human sperm production.
The scientists tested the quality of sperm from 300 men chosen at random and a detailed analysis of sperm from a further 40 participants was performed in the laboratory. At the same time the level of vitamin D in their blood was measured.
Almost half of the men had an insufficient level of vitamin D, below 50 nmol/l. The optimum level of vitamin D recommended by most experts is a minimum of 75 nmol/l. The sperm in men with higher vitamin D levels demonstrated significantly better performance in terms of motility and speed. In addition, the number of healthy sperm in men with insufficient vitamin D was considerably lower than in participants with normal levels. The ability to absorb calcium was also inhibited as well as the acrosome reaction which occurs during penetration of the female egg. Tests conducted in the laboratory resulted in similar findings.
Martin Blomberg Jensen et al. (University Department of Growth and Reproduction, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark): “Vitamin D is positively associated with sperm motility and increases intracellular calcium in human spermatozoa”; in: Human Reproduction, 22 March 2011