Liver problems and cancer risk reduced by taking vitamin D3
(Naturalhealth365) As researchers have learned, having healthy levels of vitamin D can protect against diseases such as cancer, pneumonia, influenza and Alzheimer’s disease. But, if you’re deficient in vitamin D, relying on diet (alone) will not be enough to maintain healthy levels. In addition, make sure you’re consuming vitamin D3 – not vitamin D2. (Vitamin D2 is far less potent for humans)
Great news: New scientific review sheds light on the potential of the “sunshine vitamin” to prevent and treat liver disease. With nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) currently affecting over 80 million Americans – and newly diagnosed cases of hepatitis C topping 30,000 a year – the news of a non-toxic natural therapy for liver disease is certainly nice to know.
Researcher say: Vitamin D has antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects that alleviate liver disease
The review, authored by an international team of medical experts from Saudi Arabia, India and the United States and published in Nutrition and Metabolism, credited vitamin D with being an effective treatment and prevention option for liver disease and cancers.
One of the most intriguing findings – that vitamin D receptors and changes in gene expression affect the development of long-term liver disease – carries special implications for slowing the progression of NAFLD. (Note: NAFLD can progress to a more serious condition known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, in which liver inflammation triggers severe scarring, liver failure and liver cancer).
The researchers reported a multitude of vitamin D benefits for those with liver disease.
A natural anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory agent, vitamin D plays a natural antiviral role in hepatitis C.
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The team also noted that liver cancer cells respond to the inhibitory effects of vitamin D. This disease-fighting nutrient can slow the growth and development of new blood vessels that nourish tumors, increase a type of programmed cancer cell death known as apoptosis and reduce the proliferation of new cancer cells.
In addition, vitamin D can reduce the expression of pro-inflammatory molecules such as interleukin-17 and tumor necrosis factor-n.
Researchers note: Consuming vitamin D is a must for preventing liver disease
The review also highlighted the fact that vitamin D deficiency – commonly observed in chronic liver disease – is linked with severe scarring, and associated with the development and progression of NAFLD and hepatitis C.
The authors theorized that inflammation caused by liver disease could further deplete levels of much-needed vitamin D, creating a vicious cycle of deficiency and inflammation.
The team stressed the importance of nutritional status in avoiding complications in liver dysfunction –and called for the development of appropriate guidelines for sunlight exposure and vitamin D supplementation.
Vitamin D3 performs indispensable functions
Vitamin D is produced by the body in response to sun exposure. (Because it can be synthesized by the skin, it is technically not a vitamin but a fat-soluble, hormone-like substance.)
In addition to helping to maintain strong bones and teeth, vitamin D supports the immune system, heart and brain. It also modulates levels of insulin, helps to regulate blood pressure – and even influences the expression of genes affecting cancer development.
Extensive studies have shown that vitamin D can help protect against a host of illnesses, including certain cancers, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and neurodegenerative conditions.
And, some research has shown vitamin D to be more effective than the flu vaccine. In one study, giving children 1,200 IU of vitamin D a day during flu season reduced infection rate by 40 percent.
Up to 40 percent of Americans are at risk for vitamin D deficiency
The fact that the body can make vitamin D doesn’t mean that deficiencies can’t occur. Vitamin D is found in very few foods – and lack of sunshine during the winter months in northern latitudes greatly contribute to shortfalls – for millions of people. (simply put, this is a big health concern.)
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include susceptibility to infection, chronic fatigue, joint pain, depression, impaired wound healing, hair loss and muscle pain.
When it comes to vitamin D supplementation, recommendations seem to be all over the board.
The National Institutes of Health lists the daily recommended amount of vitamin D for adults as 600 IU – a dosage that natural health experts decry as ludicrously low. (The authors of the new review put it more politely, noting that “current recommended intakes of vitamin D appear to be much lower than actually required by the body, according to many researchers.”)
While the Institutes of Medicine put the safe upper level limit at 4,000 IU per day, the Vitamin D Council recommends adults take 5,000 IU a day – while an integrative physician may recommend dosages in the area of 8,000 IU a day, depending on current vitamin D status, physical condition and other lifestyle factors.
Meanwhile, the Endocrine Society recommends that individuals take 10,000 IU of vitamin D a day – more than double the upper limit advised by the IOM.
And, according to a study recently published in Dermato-Endocrinology, people with normal body mass index needed 6,000 IU of vitamin D3 a day to reach healthy levels.
Before supplementing with vitamin D, consult with a knowledgeable and experienced integrative healthcare provider, test (don’t guess) and discover the dosage that’s best for you.
Editor’s note: When supplementing, opt for vitamin D3. This form is viewed as roughly 87 percent more effective than vitamin D2, when it comes to maintaining vitamin D concentrations in the body.
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Sources for this article include:
Food & Nutrition
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