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Vitamin D May Prevent Several Autoimmune Diseases E-mail
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Vitamin D, the principal regulator of calcium in the body, may prevent the production of malignant cells such as breast anvitamin_d_bottled prostate cancer cells and protect against specific autoimmune disorders including multiple sclerosis (MS) according to an article by Sylvia Christakos, PhD, of the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School.

In the article, Christakos reports that research shows that the incidence of multiple sclerosis (MS) decreases as the amount of Vitamin D available to the body increases, either through sunlight exposure or diet. The article notes that multiple sclerosis (MS) is “for the most part, unknown in equatorial regions” and that the prevalence of the disease is lower in areas where fish consumption is high. The study is available online in the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry.

“Since Vitamin D is produced in the skin through solar or UV irradiation and high serum levels have been shown to correlate with a reduced risk of multiple sclerosis (MS), this suggests that Vitamin D may regulate the immune response and may promote a host’s reaction to a pathogen,” Christakos said.

Christakos’ report focuses on the immunosuppressive actions of the active form of vitamin D, which may inhibit the induction of multiple sclerosis (MS), and emphasizes the importance of maintaining a sufficient Vitamin D level.

“Evidence has shown that the maintenance of an adequate vitamin D level may have a protective effect in individuals predisposed to multiple sclerosis (MS),” Christakos said. “One device of vitamin D action may be to preserve balance in the T-cell reaction and thus avoid autoimmunity.”

Despite the significant evidence of the benefits of vitamin D relative to MS and other autoimmune diseases, Christakos cautions that further studies are needed to determine whether vitamin D alone or combined with other treatments is effective in individuals with active multiple sclerosis (MS).

About Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in very few foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. Vitamin D can also be produced endogenously when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis and as such is said to be a preventative mechanism for some forms of skin cancer.

Vitamin D is essential for promoting calcium absorption in the gut and maintaining adequate serum calcium and phosphate concentrations to enable normal mineralization of bone and prevent hypocalcemic tetany. Vitamin D is also needed for bone growth and bone remodeling by osteoblasts and osteoclasts. Without sufficient vitamin D, bones can become thin, brittle, or misshapen. Vitamin D sufficiency prevents rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Together with calcium, vitamin D also helps protect older adults from osteoporosis. Vitamin D has other roles in human health, including modulation of neuromuscular and immune function and reduction of inflammation. Many genes encoding proteins that regulate cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis are modulated in part by vitamin D.

Vitamin D deficiencies may result in several undesirable health effects:
  • Vitamin D deficiencies can increase your risk for osteoporosis, a disease characterized by fragile bones. This can result in increased risk of bone fractures. Having normal storage levels of vitamin D in your body helps keep your bones strong and may help prevent osteoporosis in elderly, non-ambulatory individuals, in post-menopausal women, and in individuals on chronic steroid therapy.·        
  • Vitamin D deficiencies can increase your risk for cancer. Laboratory, animal, and epidemiologic evidence suggest that vitamin D may be protective against some cancers. Earlier studies have linked vitamin D deficiency with an increased risk for several cancers. Now comes word that it may also be a major cause of unexplained muscle and bone pain.     
  • Vitamin D deficiencies may increase unexplained muscle and bone pain. In a study involving 150 children and adults with unexplained muscle and bone pain, almost all were found to be vitamin D deficient; many were severely deficient with extremely low levels of vitamin D in their bodies. (source: http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/news/20031210/lack-of-vitamin-d-linked-to-pain)
 
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