Recent studies have found that vitamin D could provide multiple health benefits and that a lack of vitamin D is linked to several diseases, such as dementia and heart disease.
According to the National Institute of Health, vitamin D is a nutrient people need for good health. It helps the body absorb calcium, one of the main building blocks for strong bones.
Together with calcium, the supplement helps protect the body from developing osteoporosis, a disease that thins and weakens the bones and makes them more likely to break.
Your body needs the supplement for other functions too. Your muscles need it to move, and your nerves need it to carry messages between your brain and your body.
Your immune system needs the supplement to fight off invading bacteria and viruses.
Several recent studies have found that this supplement is important for our health.
In a recent study from the University of South Australia, scientists found a direct link between dementia and a lack of this supplement.
They examined the association between vitamin D, brain imaging features, and the risk of dementia and stroke. The team analyzed data from 294,514 participants from the U.K. Biobank.
They found that low levels of this supplement were linked to lower brain volumes and an increased risk of dementia and stroke.
Genetic analyses supported a causal effect of vitamin D deficiency and dementia. This means vitamin D deficiency may directly cause dementia.
The team suggests that in some populations, as much as 17% of dementia cases might be prevented by increasing everyone to normal levels of the supplement (50 nmol/L).
The study was conducted by Professor Elina Hyppönen et al and published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
In another study from the University of South Australia, scientists found that the supplement is not only important for bones that could suffer, but also important for heart health.
They found genetic evidence for the role of vitamin D deficiency in causing heart disease.
In the study, the team showed that people with vitamin D deficiency are more likely to suffer from heart disease and higher blood pressure than those with normal levels of this supplement.
For participants with the lowest vitamin D levels, the risk of heart disease was more than double that seen for those with sufficient levels.
By increasing vitamin D-deficient people to levels of at least 50 nmol/L, the team estimated that 4.4% of all heart disease cases could have been prevented.
Severe deficiency is relatively rare, but in settings where this does occur it is very important to be proactive and avoid negative effects on the heart.
The study was conducted by Elina Hyppönen et al and published in European Heart Journal.
One study conducted by researchers from Finnish, Australia, and the U.S. found that the supplement may reduce depressive symptoms in adults with depression.
The review on the association of the supplement with depression is the largest one published so far, including findings from 41 studies from around the world.
These studies have examined the efficacy of the supplement in alleviating depressive symptoms in adults in different populations.
The team found that the supplement was more effective than a placebo in reducing depressive symptoms in people with depression.
The research was published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition and conducted by Tuomas Mikola et al.
In another recent study, researchers from Peking University in China found higher levels of this supplement in the body are linked to a lower risk for incident type 2 diabetes.
The team tested the link between vitamin D levels in the blood and the risk of type 2 diabetes, and whether any association is modified by sleep behaviors.
The analysis included 350,211 people free of diabetes participating in the U.K. Biobank.
During an 8-year of follow-up, there were 6,940 people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The researchers found that vitamin D levels were strongly linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
There was also a strong interaction between vitamin D levels and sleep patterns on the risk of type 2 diabetes.
In people with healthier sleep patterns, the inverse association between high vitamin D levels and type 2 diabetes was stronger.
The lower risk of type 2 diabetes linked to high vitamin D levels was stronger in people with no frequent daytime sleepiness versus those with excessive daytime sleepiness.
The team says these findings have implications for the development of diabetes prevention strategies that target the improvement of the supplement among people with sleep disorders. The study was published in Diabetes Care.
One recent study from the Boston University School of Medicine found that COVID-19 patients who had sufficient vitamin D in the body had a much lower risk for adverse outcomes including becoming unconscious, hypoxia (body starved for oxygen), and death.
In addition, these patients had lower blood levels of an inflammatory marker (C-reactive protein) and higher blood levels of lymphocytes (a type of immune cell to help fight infection).
This study showed direct evidence that vitamin D sufficiency could reduce the complications, including the cytokine storm (release of too many proteins into the blood too quickly) and ultimately death from COVID-19.
In the study, a blood sample to measure vitamin D status (measured serum level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D) was taken from 235 patients admitted to the hospital with COVID-19.
These patients were followed for clinical outcomes including clinical severity of the infection, becoming unconscious, having difficulty in breathing resulting in hypoxia, and death.
The researchers compared all of these parameters in patients who were vitamin D deficient to those who were vitamin D sufficient.
They found in patients older than 40 years, those who were vitamin D sufficient were 52% less likely to die from the infection compared to patients who were vitamin D deficient or insufficient with a blood level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D less than 30 ng/mL.
The team previously found that a sufficient amount of this supplement can reduce the risk of catching coronavirus by 54%.
They suggest that being vitamin D sufficient helps to fight the consequences of being infected not only with the coronavirus but also other viruses causing upper respiratory tract illnesses including influenza.
The study was published in PLOS ONE and conducted by Michael F. Holick et al.
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