(NaturalHealth365) Liver problems are increasing by leaps and bounds in the United States, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting that 3.5 million Americans now have hepatitis C. In fact, an estimated 41,200 new cases were reported in 2016 alone.
In addition, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has become a pandemic, affecting between 20 and 30 percent of the American population. Now, a review of studies shows that vitamin D has tremendous value against these health threats – including anti-inflammatory and immune system-boosting properties.
The review, conducted by an international team of researchers from Saudi Arabia, India and the United States, concluded that vitamin D can not only help prevent such serious diseases as multiple sclerosis and diabetes – but can help treat and prevent liver diseases and liver cancer as well.
How vitamin D can STOP the development of liver problems
The researchers reported that receptors for vitamin D are found in all body tissues governing immune system function and cell proliferation – meaning that they are “major players” in determining the course of disease.
The team found that vitamin D affects gene expression – and that changes to gene expression and vitamin D receptors are a factor in the development of chronic liver problems such as hepatitis C, infection and NAFLD.
They also found that nutritional status – involving, among other things, intake of vitamin D – plays an important role in preventing complications from liver disease (which can include inflammation, cirrhosis and liver cancer).
With possible anti-proliferative effects on liver cancer cells, vitamin D may have anticancer properties as well.
Health ALERT: Vitamin D acts against hepatitis, cancer, NAFLD plus much more
In study after study, the researchers learned about the protection conferred by having healthy levels of vitamin D.
Specifically, vitamin D is shown to have therapeutic potential against chronic hepatitis C infection – impairing the replication of the virus and slowing the spread of infection. The nutrient also acts against the liver scarring and inflammation that may accompany the disease.
One of the most exciting findings was the fact that a prospective study involving over 33,000 participants showed that having sufficient vitamin D levels reduces the risk of liver cancer by 50 percent.
With this aggressive and deadly cancer claiming 24,000 lives every year in the United States, this finding is particularly welcome! And, there was other good news.
Sufficient vitamin D levels decrease the prevalence of metabolic syndrome by 67 percent – as well as reducing the incidence of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and type 2 diabetes.
Having normal vitamin D levels also decreases the risk of colon and prostate cancer.
And getting sufficient sunshine – which allows the body to produce vitamin D – is linked to an astounding 70 percent decrease in breast cancer risk. Sunlight exposure is also associated with reduced risk of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
WARNING: Low vitamin D levels may set the stage for potentially life-threatening diseases
Vitamin D deficiency is strongly associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD (the presence of excessive fat in the livers of those with no history of alcohol abuse).
Having low levels of vitamin D is linked with increased liver scarring and inflammation in those with hepatitis C. Intriguingly, research shows that low levels of vitamin D can impair the effectiveness of interferon-based treatments.
And, insufficient levels of vitamin D are associated with the advanced progression of liver cancer – as well as with higher risk of respiratory infections, pneumonia and tuberculosis.
Important note: Serum levels of under 25 nanograms per milliliter are considered “deficient.” For health benefits and protection against cancer and other diseases, most integrative healthcare providers call for a concentration of at least 40 ng/mL – with 50 to 80 ng/mL considered the optimal range.
In the end: the researchers concluded that vitamin D and vitamin D analogs are promising candidates for the prevention and treatment of liver disorders – and called for more awareness of the adverse effects of vitamin D deficiency.
The review – conducted by scientists from King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia, the National Brain Research Center in India and SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York – was published in Nutrition and Metabolism.
Are you part of the 40 percent of Americans deficient in vitamin D?
Vitamin D is produced in the body in response to sunlight – and is found in foods such as wild-caught cold-water fish, cage-free eggs and organic mushrooms.
While you can boost your levels by eating vitamin D-rich fare (along with 20 minutes of direct sunlight several times a week), supplementation is very often needed to ensure optimal levels.
This is an important point: Vitamin D deficiencies are quite common in the wintertime (especially in Northern climates) and may affect close to half of all Americans. Keep in mind, the angle of the sun matters. In other words, if you live in a more northern latitude – the angle of the sun will not be direct enough to affect your vitamin D levels.
Supplementation HELP: How much vitamin D is enough
Although the Institutes of Medicine recommend 800 IU of vitamin D a day, most integrative healthcare providers insist this amount is far too low.
The Vitamin D Council advises that adults take at least 5,000 IU a day of vitamin D – while integrative physicians may recommend dosages in the neighborhood of 6,000 to 8,000 IU a day.
However, talk to your doctor before supplementing with vitamin D – as proper vitamin D dosage depends on lifestyle, weight and even geography. And, as we always recommend here at NaturalHealth365, ‘test, don’t guess.’ (Get a simple blood test to know your vitamin D status.)
Health tip: for maximum benefit, opt for vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) – which is more effective than vitamin D2 in raising concentrations of vitamin D.
Vitamin D’s ability to preserve and protect health makes it simply too important to overlook. Remember, with a simple blood test, you can find out if you’re at risk for deficiencies of this lifesaving nutrient.
Sources for this article include:
Food & Nutrition
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