(eCandida) Vitamin D surfaces as a news topic every few months - and with good reason. This article highlights several ground-breaking studies showcasing how important the sunshine vitamin is for our overall health and wellbeing.
For twenty years, dermatologists have demonized sun exposure and told us it is bad for our health and causes cancer. As a result, the world is now facing a major vitamin D deficiency epidemic with symptoms such as fatigue, restless sleep, weight gain, chronic pain, muscle cramps, poor concentration and headaches. In fact, more than half of all adults living in the United States and Europe don't get enough vitamin D.
To make matters worse, a 2009 study published in the journal Pediatrics concluded that six million American kids are deficient, too. It's a shame, partly because one recent study discovered a link between low vitamin D levels and allergies in children. Researchers from Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University compared blood samples of more than 3,000 kids, and what they found was alarming: Low vitamin D levels correlated with sensitivity to 11 environmental (cockroach, ragweed, dog, oak) and food allergens (peanuts).
It turned out that children with less than 15 ng of vitamin D per milliliter of blood were more than twice as likely to suffer from a peanut allergy than those who had enough of the sunshine vitamin. However, young kids are not the only ones who could benefit from more sunlight. An astonishing 59 percent of otherwise healthy women, who participated in a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, had too little vitamin D in their blood, which resulted into increased body fat and decreased strength.
"High levels of vitamin D could help reduce body fat. Or, fat tissues might absorb or retain vitamin D, so that people with more fat are likely to also be vitamin D deficient," explains Dr. Richard Kremer, a Professor of Medicine at McGill University.
If that wasn't enough, David J. Llewellyn and his colleagues of University of Exeter found yet another reason why we shouldn't be scared to get some sun, stating that low vitamin D levels are associated with cognitive decline. The results of their work presented in Archives of Internal Medicine suggest that older adults, who are deficient in vitamin D, have a 60 percent higher risk of experiencing major declines in thinking, memory and learning. The participants of the research were age 65 or older and went through three tests assessing their overall cognition, attention and executive function.
Given recent research hinting at the therapeutic value of vitamin D for the diabetic population, it shouldn't come as a surprise that heart disease patients may experience significant improvements in their quality of life, too. As presented at the European Society of Cardiology's Congress 2010 in Stockholm, it seems that low levels of vitamin D may activate the Renin Angiotensin System (RAS) and alter cytokine profile, which in turn may contribute to the progression and/or development of heart failure. Meanwhile, patients with enough vitamin D seem to have lower risk of death or required re-hospitalisation.
"This study provides compelling evidence that a high vitamin D status is associated with improved survival in heart failure patients," explains Ms. Licette Liu from the University Medical Center, Groningen. "Until an intervention study has been designed and completed, it seems that we should advise patients with heart failure to maintain appropriate vitamin D levels by taking supplements, by eating oily fish or eggs, or simply by exposure to sunlight"