Vitamin D deficiency is an epidemic in the world today. This is because very few people understand how important it is. This is also because most people aren’t getting enough through their diet or through sun exposure. There are at least 10 reasons why vitamin D is important to the overall health of you and your kids (Post contains affiliate links).
Vitamin D is important for bones and helps prevent rickets
Rickets is a disease of the bones that most people recognize as related to vitamin D deficiency. This disease causes bowed legs and soft bones. Prior to fortification of cow’s milk, rickets was much more common. Since many people drink non-dairy milk substitutes, it should be a relief to know that most non-dairy milks today are also fortified with vitamin D. As a result of fortification, rickets is rare in developing countries, such as the US.
In addition to Rickets, Vitamin D is important for treating and preventing an enormous amount of other health issues. These diseases include, but are not limited to acne, autism, eczema, multiple sclerosis, various cancers, both Type I and II Diabetes, the flu (influenza), respiratory infections, and depression.
Vitamin D and Acne
Evidence abounds that vitamin D has a therapeutic effect on the severity of acne. For example, a study in 2016 showed that vitamin D treatment of 1000 IU/day significantly decreased the acne severity of the participants. Furthermore, when vitamin D levels were checked, nearly 50% of the participants (those with acne) were vitamin D deficient prior to the start of the study, compared to only 22% of the controls (those without acne).
Founder and Medical Director of the Vitamin D Council, Dr. John Cannell, wrote,
“When I was a teen, my acne almost disappeared in the summer. I thought it was the salty water I swam in-but not so. It improved in the summer regardless of any salt water exposure.”
As a result of professional experience with patients with acne, Dr. Cannell at the Vitamin D Council website recommends the following:
“If you are a teenager or adult with acne, the Vitamin D Council recommends supplementing with 5,000 IU (125 mcg) to 10,000 IU (250 mcg)/day of vitamin D, depending on your weight (higher weight individuals may require more vitamin D). In 2 months, have your vitamin D levels tested. If your levels are below 60 ng/ml, increase your vitamin D intake by small increments until your vitamin D blood level is around 70 ng/ml. It may take about 2-3 months to begin to experience an improvement. However, maximum improvement may not occur for 5-6 months.”
Reduced Risk of Autism
Because of the increased incidence of autism in the past 20 years, much research is being done. Some of the research done is specifically to determine if there is a connection between low vitamin D levels and autism. This research has shown interesting results.
For example, several studies going back to 2008 have shown connections including:
- Low maternal blood levels of vitamin D are associated with children developing autism by 8 years old.
- Children diagnosed with autism tend to have lower blood levels of vitamin D
- Therapeutic effects of vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy and after been shown to be effective for both mother and child.
- Vitamin D reduces oxidative stress associated with autism.
For further research on vitamin D and autism, see the following articles and visit the Vitamin D Council Website.
Vitamin D and Eczema
Eczema, also known as, “atopic dermatitis,” is associated with low vitamin D levels. There are many studies showing a relationship between low vitamin D levels and eczema. Though not many of these studies have researched the role of vitamin D in the prevention of eczema, many have shown a role of vitamin in reducing the severity of symptoms.
Part of the reason for this is that vitamin D is important for a healthy immune system, and eczema is associated with impaired immunity.
The most common groups of people who develop eczema are infants and young children, though adults develop it as well. 10-25% of children and about 3% of adults develop eczema.
In fact, a study published in 2012 in Australia showed the following:
- As many as 1/3 of infants born have some form of eczema.
- Vitamin D levels at birth were lowest in infants who developed eczema in their first year of life.
- Every 4 ng/ml increase in vitamin D levels in the newborns was linked to a 13% lower risk of developing eczema.
Much more has been written on the subject of vitamin D and eczema. For now, let me just say that there is overwhelming evidence that healthy vitamin D levels reduce the risk of eczema.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
When a person develops MS, the immune system attacks the nerves in the spinal cord and the brain. Studies have been unclear about the role of vitamin D in the development of MS. However, epidemiological studies have shown a connection.
Epidemiological studies are studies that compare 2 groups of people who are alike except for one factor. For example, people who have MS, are female, and are Caucasian, but who have a history of low versus high vitamin D status.
These types of studies show a relationship between low vitamin D levels and increased risk of developing MS. Other epidemiological studies have shown that persons with the highest exposure to sun are the least likely to develop MS. These studies show promise. However, by themselves, are not conclusive.
Breast, endometrial, cervical, colorectal, esophageal, renal, and gastric cancer, and other cancers, are all positively related to low vitamin D status. This means that the lower your vitamin D levels, the higher the likelihood you will develop some form of cancer in your lifetime. You can check the Vitamin D Council website for more discussion and references related to specific cancers.
Type 1 and 2 Diabetes (DM)
Type 1 diabetes is an immune disorder. When a person develops diabetes, the immune system attacks cells that are involved in the production of the hormone insulin. As a result of the immune system attacking, a person with type 1 diabetes eventually cannot make their own insulin. Thus, they must take insulin as medicine in order to digest carbohydrates properly.
There appears to be a connection between low vitamin D levels the first year of life and developing type 1 diabetes, but more research is needed.
The connection between vitamin D and diabetes type 2 appears to be related to insulin sensitivity. People who are type 2 diabetics have reduced insulin sensitivity. This means that when they eat a candy bar, insulin doesn’t respond as well as it should and their blood sugar stays higher for a longer period of time.
Type 2 diabetes develops slowly and is more common in adults over 40. (As opposed to type 1 diabetes which is usually seen in childhood). Some research is showing that adequate vitamin D levels may help to increase insulin sensitivity for people susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes. This means that people who have adequate vitamin D levels in childhood and early adulthood may have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. More research is needed, however.
Numerous studies show the benefits of vitamin D for preventing both colds and flu. The vitamin D council recommends 5,000 to 10,000 IU for adults every day, and 100 IU/kg/day for children to reduce the risk of the flu. Remember the amount of vitamin D considered safe is controversial. So, it is always a good idea to check with your own medical doctor before taking or giving your children therapeutic doses of vitamin D.
8 people die from Asthma every day worldwide. Some studies have shown short term relief from severe asthma symptoms. Again, more research is needed.
Vitamin D and Depression
Results are mixed on this one. However, I have had personal experience with the amazing effects of consuming adequate amounts of vitamin D. Vitamin D improves mood. For example, when my son was in 1st grade, I spoke with a lady who worked at the public school where he was attending. She stated that at one time her husband was suicidal. They tried everything and nothing worked. Until they tested his vitamin D levels as a last resort. His levels were indeed low. So his doctor prescribed vitamin D. His depression completely disappeared.
It wasn’t until sometime later that I too was diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency. My doctor put me on a 2000 IU dose. I am not kidding you when I say that within 3 days I could feel a difference. My levels weren’t that low, but they were below 30 ng/ml. Like I said in my other post, this doctor wanted my levels above 50 ng/ml, so she put me on 6,000 IU/day during the sunnier times of year and recommended 10,000 IU a day during the winter months. I still take 6,000 IU/day, even with my new doctor, and my last test was slightly below 50 ng/ml.
Anyway, I know that it worked for me!!! Especially once I started exercising regularly. Click here for 10 Foods High in Vitamin D.
There are quite a few other diseases that may be improved by sufficient vitamin D or by therapeutic vitamin D doses. Some of these diseases that I didn’t discuss include Tuberculosis, COPD, Leukemia, Sepsis/Septicemia (infection of blood), and more.
The vitamin D Council is the best site I have found on the subject: www.vitamindcouncil.org.
You can find tons of cross references to the research on their site, and the articles are written by medical doctors.
Other articles by Homeschooling Dietitian Mom: