In last week’s Health Tip, we provided an introduction to the vitamin D, the “Sunshine Vitamin.” This week we will provide NEW and vitally important information about this amazing vitamin and its effect on the body.
For over 6,000 years mankind has appreciated the sun for its provision of light and warmth. There was even a time when man worshiped the sun: “…with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; they worshipped the sun . . . “ (Ezekiel 8:16) Man has even named one of the days of the week after the sun: SUN-day. Throughout history, from Adam and Eve to most of our grandparents or at least most of our great grandparents, exposure to the sun was almost a daily experience. But since World War II, many began living and working indoors where very little exposure to the rays of the sun occurred. This lack of exposure to the sun became even more intense when doctors began associating sun exposure with melanoma cancer. The sunscreen industry resulted, telling us that we must use their products to protect ourselves if we were to dare expose our skin to the sun’s rays.
Science Is Finally Catching Up With God
All these events have taken us further and further away from sun exposure and the health it provides. Now science is telling us that sun exposure is absolutely essential to protect against germs, viruses and bacteria and experience the ultimate health God designed for mankind. The reason sun exposure is so essential to our health is because the sun provides us with vitamin D. As scientists are just beginning to understand, the vitamin D the body produces as a result of exposure to the sun's UVB rays may offer the most powerful protection for good health. God knew what He was doing when He told Adam that he would have to earn his bread by the “sweat of thy face” as he labored to remove the weeds “thorns and thistles” from the garden. (See Genesis 3:18-19) This time spent in the garden required long periods of sun exposure, which in turn provided the immune system with vitamin D to protect the body from germs, viruses, and bacteria. Yes, God had it right from the very beginning. Too bad man has been such a slow learner.
Recent Discoveries About Vitamin D
When the UVB rays strike the skin, they trigger biochemical reactions in the deeper cells that generate huge amounts of vitamin D. Prolonged sun exposure causes tanning which becomes a natural sunscreen and reduces the amount of vitamin D being produced, thus preventing an overdose. However, excessive sun exposure before tanning takes place can cause the burning of the skin, which is dangerous. Before vitamin D can do its intended task, it must next be converted into its biologically active form. The kidneys are the primary organ that does this. After this conversion it is in a recognizable form for the enzymes to directly activate vitamin D. Because so many cells throughout the body are dependent on vitamin D in order to carry out their intended tasks, adequate vitamin D is a necessity for long term survival. This activated vitamin D in the skin turns on antioxidants, which deactivate free radicals. This is the body’s natural defense mechanism, and works very well for over 90% of the people if not tampered with by man’s use of sun blockers or avoidance of sun exposure. The immune system depends on vitamin D to help mount an immune system response to foreign invaders. It suppresses excessive and inappropriate behavior of immune cells, thus helping to reduce inflammation. A solid case has been made that adequate vitamin D is crucial in preventing excessive inflammation, which is a part of all aging diseases. Vitamin D has also been shown to help prevent and improve arthritis, autoimmune diseases, type I diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease. There is not a drug on the market that can perform these tasks. Vitamin D has a tremendous effect on the genes. For instance, adequate vitamin D is essential for healthy skin and hair growth. If vitamin D is lacking, it can result in an autoimmune reaction that makes a person’s hair fall out or the disruption of skin pigmentation.
Lack of Vitamin D Enables Cancer Growth
According to Byron J. Richard, CCN, when cancer strikes, it implies that cell division is out of control. Just as vitamin D regulates immune cells, it also helps regulate cell growth. Recent research reveals that vitamin D partners with the antioxidant defense system to help clear the body of free radicals, thereby protecting them from DNA damage that can lead to inappropriate mutation. One research group had this to say about vitamin D: “Our findings reflect what we see in those studies and demonstrate that vitamin D not only can be used as a therapy for prostate cancer, it can actually prevent prostate cancer from happening.” Recent colon cancer research reveals that vitamin D turns on "death signals" in colon cancer cells and works with calcium to help prevent colon cancer cells from spreading. A German study has proven that low levels of vitamin D in premenopausal women are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. It appears that vitamin D is the most powerful protector of the body from cancer development by preventing maverick cells from mutating into cancer cells. Some doctors are beginning to give cancer patients massive doses of vitamin D in an effort to assist the body in its battle to naturally overcome the cancer.
Vitamin D Deficiency Involved In Diabetes
Vitamin D helps the pancreas release insulin. Therefore, a lack of vitamin D increases the risk for type I diabetes and is likely involved with the insulin and leptin resistance that eventually causes type II diabetes. Correcting vitamin D deficiency in people who are overweight has been shown to help prevent type II diabetes. If a person is struggling with their weight or the health of their pancreas it may be an indication that there is a deficiency of vitamin D. In Finland, where sunlight is very weak (especially in winter), risk of type I diabetes increases 400%. Finnish studies reveal that children who consistently took 2000 IU of vitamin D daily had a 78% reduction risk of type I diabetes.
Vitamin D Is Necessary For Heart Health
Researchers at the University of Michigan have nicknamed vitamin D “the heart tranquilizer” because it helps keep the heart from working too hard and swelling in size. Their findings indicate that vitamin D can even help prevent heart failure. Blood flow to the extremities has also been shown to improve when vitamin D levels are adequate, helping to improve what researchers call peripheral artery disease (PAD). When researchers evaluated 4,839 adults, they found those with the best vitamin D levels had the least amount of PAD.
Vitamin D Affects Brain Health
In older adults, low vitamin levels of vitamin D are associated with depression. An interesting study comparing vitamin D levels in older Americans with Parkinson’s’ disease revealed 55% of them had low levels of vitamin D. Conclusion Government recommendations for vitamin D are much too low, especially during the winter months when exposure to sunlight in most North American latitudes it is not enough to provide adequate levels of vitamin D. It is imperative that a supplemental form of vitamin D be taken on a daily basis in order to keep the immune system functioning optimally. Rhonda and this editor take 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily, all year round. Children need 1,000 to 2,000 IU. If a person chooses to supplement, make sure it is with vitamin D3 and not with vitamin D2, which does not offer the same protection. D2 is the synthetic kind found in homogenized milk and often prescribed by physicians.