Vitamin D Has Surprising Anti-Inflammatory Effects On The Body, Studies Suggest
When we think of getting enough vitamin D, we are probably concerned about our bone health, right? And we should be! Vitamin D is essential for healthy, strong bones that take us through a lifetime. But vitamin D plays a much larger role in the body.
Outside of bone health, Vitamin D does everything from regulating insulin levels and boosting lung health to improving the brain and preventing cancer.
And it also prevents and reduces inflammation.
Inflammation is supposed to be good for you, and to a certain extent, it absolutely is! Inflammation is your key to fighting off infections and preparing you for that life-saving “fight or flight response.”
But too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Chronic inflammation can lead to joint pain, digestive issues, heart disease, insomnia, breathing problems, poor oral health, obesity, skin problems, mental health issues, cancer, and more. Of course, it’s also to blame for inflammatory diseases like celiac or rheumatoid arthritis.
As you can see, inflammation can wreck your body.
So let’s talk about how vitamin D plays a role in preventing all of these issues and properly regulating inflammation – so that natural response is there when you need it and gone the rest of the time.
Spoiler: vitamin D is significantly important when it comes to inflammation and you probably aren’t getting enough of it.
The Vitamin D/Inflammation Connection
So just how are vitamin D and inflammation connected? Lots of ways!
Vitamin D helps you modulate the body’s immune system (which we know actually creates inflammation to protect you, but this system often goes a bit haywire). Vitamin D can also regulate parts of the body with the job of getting rid of inflammation. And vitamin D keeps your pro-inflammatory cells from getting out of control.
A large scientific review discovered that there are many, many recent studies showing vitamin D has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body in the past few years.
One in particular showed how researchers incubated cells with different amounts of vitamin D. Some cells received none, others 15 ng/ml, 30 ng/ml, and 50 mg/ml. At the 30 ng/ml rate, the cells “showed significantly reduced response” to inflammatory agents. But at no surprise, the 50 ng/ml did the very best.
This shows that no D and even low levels of vitamin D are not working hard enough to fight against your body’s inflammation.
The same researchers may have found another reason why vitamin D keeps the inflammation away. Here’s how it works: our bodies have vitamin-D receptors. These can bind directly to your DNA. When this happens a certain gene (called MKP-1) activates and really interferes inflammatory response.
On top of these studies, we also know that having too little vitamin D can actually bring on inflammatory diseases like:
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Chronic kidney disease
- And more
Here’s Why This Is Such A Problem
So if we know conclusively that low vitamin D means more inflammation… and more inflammation means a whole bunch of serious health problems… we also know our bodies need plenty of vitamin D.
But here’s the sad truth: we are so deficient in vitamin D as a society, medical journals are starting to call it a deficiency epidemic.
Estimates show that somewhere around 85% of people are deficient in vitamin D.
On top of inflammation and inflammatory disease, vitamin D deficiency can lead to:
- High blood pressure
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- And more
So chances are, you have a vitamin D deficiency and that has led to some sort of inflammation problem. We all need to know what to do about it.
How To Fix The Vitamin D and Inflammation Problems
So there is clearly and undoubtedly a connection between low vitamin D and inflammation in the body. But can taking extra vitamin D cure your inflammation problems?
Probably. The fact is scientific studies have not yet come to one strong conclusion about the ways vitamin D supplementation can actually cure or treat inflammatory diseases. But that doesn’t mean supplementation doesn’t play an important role!
Whether or not vitamin D supplementation can directly improve inflammation symptoms or rid the body of inflammatory disease – the fact still remains: low vitamin D is leading to inflammation, as well as countless other serious health problems.
- First off, having adequate vitamin D definitely means less inflammation in the future.
- One study on 580 teenage girls showed that high dose vitamin D supplementation could actually decrease inflammation. They concluded: “To the best of our knowledge this is the first study showing that high-dose supplementation of vitamin D affects measures of systemic inflammation: reductions in High-Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein level and Neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio (NLR) distribution in a large population.”
- Vitamin D may even lower the pain you feel from inflammation.
Without a doubt, getting more vitamin D is the next right step.
How To Know If You Need More Vitamin D
This one’s easy: just go to your doctor and ask for a blood test. They will perform something called the 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. Of course, they will go over the results with you, but know that you are aiming for at least 20 ng/ml to 50 ng/ml of D.
When you are under 12 ng/ml, you are deficient.
If your blood tests come back in the normal range, talk to your doctor about ways to ensure you keep a solid vitamin D level.
How To Get More Vitamin D
We obviously need more vitamin D in our lives. There are three main ways available for increasing our vitamin D. The first is the most important, but the other two should also be started right away.
Here’s what you can do:
1. Get Outside Everyday
By far, this first tip is the most effective and the most beneficial. The best source of vitamin D is the kind our bodies create through sun exposure. No food and no supplement will ever come close to matching that vitamin D power – over half our vitamin D needs come from the sun.
We live in a sunscreen crazed world – and for good reason – skin cancer is nothing to mess around with. But allowing yourself 5 or so minutes a day in the sun without sunscreen allows our vitamin D-depleted bodies to soak up that vital anti-inflammatory nutrient.
Take a quick walk outside right before you head to work or during your lunch break. Use the weekends for outdoor activity. If it’s warm enough, let your arms and legs touch the sun.
But we have to also be realistic – not everybody lives in environments where they have access to enough sun-on-skin. Maybe it’s really cold or often rainy where you are. Maybe you are locked into a desk job all day long. Fortunately, we have a few other options to boost our D levels.
2. Eat More Vitamin D Foods
There are lots of foods that have vitamin D in them – and when you eat a vitamin, you can often absorb it better than a supplement. Here are some top choices:
- Cod liver oil
- Milk and dairy products
You will find lots of products fortified with vitamin D like breakfast cereals. Though these can maybe help a little, they are not being fortified with the right vitamin D – D3. Instead they are vitamin D2, which is dramatically less accepted by the body. So focus on the foods that have vitamin D naturally occurring.
As you can see, somebody who is a vegan or vegetarian is going to have a hard time with eating enough vitamin D. But we still have another option available to us.
3. Take a Supplement
Vitamin D supplements are controversial – nobody can seem to agree how much we really need.
Because of our epidemic of vitamin D deficiencies, most experts know we need to be taking some. But vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means we don’t just urinate out the extra we don’t need. This could potentially lead to dangerous and toxic levels of vitamin D in the body.
So some experts say adults need 600 IU a day. Some say adults need 1,000 IU a day. And some say much, much more – up to 4,000 IU a day.
The best place to start, then, is with your vitamin D blood test results. If you are severely deficient, you will need more vitamin D. If you are not that deficient, you can get by with less.
FYI: these numbers are for adults. Children should be getting less, so always talk to their pediatrician before giving them any vitamin D supplement.
It is important to get a supplement created with vitamin D3 instead of vitamin D2.
You can also look for an all-natural anti-inflammatory supplement that includes the very important vitamin D. Eu Natural’s Primal Joint Support and Anti-Inflammatory gives you your 4000 IU of vitamin D and also includes fabulous natural ingredients that can banish your inflammation including:
Vitamin D and Inflammation
Just about every single person needs more vitamin D. And if you have inflammation issues, chances are, you really need more vitamin D.
So make an appointment for a vitamin D blood test with your doctor today. Go over your results and discuss how much vitamin D supplementation you should be taking. Don’t forget to go outside and load up on some vitamin D-rich foods as well.
Also talk to your child’s pediatrician about ensuring they have adequate vitamin D levels growing up so they can have a better chance of avoiding the inflammation you are dealing with today.
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