Friday, September 21, 2012

What Vitamin Deficiency Encourages Autoimmune Disease?

There have been many reports over the past year or two about the importance of Vitamin D.  Once thought to be only a vitamin involved in the regulation of calcium and bone health one benefit after another has recently been tied to the level of Vitamin D.  The recommended daily allowance of 400 IU a day has been replaced by different suggestions of 2,000 IU to as much as 10,000 IU.  Vitamin D is now known to be important in the function of the immune system, neurological system, and gastro-intenstinal system in addition to the skeletal system.

A new study was recently published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry.  It illustrates the kind of importance Vitamin D could be playing in our health.  The study found a higher likelihood for people to develop Multiple Sclerosis within two or three years if they had had Epstein-Barr virus with a low Vitamin D level (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D).  This study possibly points to a reason that Multiple Sclerosis occurs more frequently in the Northern Latitudes where Vitamin D levels have been shown repeatedly to be low.  It may offer some insights into at least one more causality of developing not just Multiple Sclerosis, but autoimmune diseases of all kinds.  At the very least the study reiterates the vast importance for each person to get adequate amounts of Vitamin D.

The primary and best source of Vitamin D is from the sun.  UV light from the sun falling on human skin triggers a chemical conversion that results in Vitamin D being made.  Other UV sources, from a tanning bed for example, also improve Vitamin D levels.  These two ways of getting Vitamin D have proven themselves to be the most effective, though there is some variation from genetic factors.  The less effective, but better than nothing, source is supplementation.  Most current knowledgeable advice suggests 2,000-4,000 IU a day.  The only way to know if your levels are adequate is to monitor your levels through blood tests.  There is a potential toxicity from excessive amounts of Vitamin D, so some monitoring of your levels is essential if you're taking supplemental Vitamin D.

No comments: