By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
January 10, 2022
Did you know that patients with autoimmune disorders tend to have low levels of vitamin D?
I’m talking about life-changing conditions that destroy quality of life, like multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and the most common form of lupus, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
- Most multiple sclerosis (MS) patients are short on vitamin D. These low levels of D are linked to an increased risk of developing multiple sclerosis, along with higher disability and relapse rates. And it’s interesting that vitamin D levels in MS patients tend to be lower during relapses and higher when they are in remission. When MS appears in adults over 50, it’s referred to as late onset multiple sclerosis (LOMS).
- You might be surprised to learn that new type 1 diabetes diagnoses – which we used to call juvenile diabetes – are now more common in adults than children. The body’s own immune system starts destroying the cells in your pancreas that make insulin. Vitamin D could greatly reduce the risk of developing the disease – or even send it into remission if you already have it.
- People with the highest levels of vitamin D are much less likely to develop RA than people with low levels. And in people who have RA, disease activity is increased when vitamin D levels are lower. That’s because vitamin D has an immunosuppressive effect – it decreases the overactive immune response. So when those patients supplement with vitamin D, they often see an improvement in symptoms.
- With SLE, your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs. Again, it’s associated with low levels of vitamin D. But most SLE patients are sensitive to UV radiation. So it is hard for them to get vitamin D from the sun. This is a problem, since vitamin D levels are not only linked to the onset of the disease, but also with the severity of it. Around 25% of people diagnosed with SLE have late onset lupus.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. But clearly, vitamin D plays a critical role in your health and how well you age. Yet, so many people in the U.S. have insufficient levels of it.
Why the RDA for Vitamin D is Wrong
Vitamin D regulates the expression of over 200 genes related to your immune response. So it’s a vitally important nutrient. Not only to ward off autoimmune diseases, but also when it comes to everyday immunity against infections, especially those in the respiratory tract.
But here’s something you will find interesting.
The original recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin D was set back in 1941. And it was based on an observation that 400 IU was the amount needed to prevent rickets. It stayed at 400 IU until 2010, when the RDA was increased to 600 IU to support bone health.
That’s still ridiculously low. Especially considering the amount of research that’s been completed over the last 80 years that shows how important higher vitamin D levels are for maximal health.
Vitamin D reduces your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s. It increases energy levels, boosts physical strength, shuts down pain and helps boost the absorption of minerals that protect your bones.
Hundreds of genes look to vitamin D to function better and most tissues/organs have vitamin D receptors on them. In fact, it is better defined as a hormone… not just one of a number of vitamins.
Are Your Levels Insufficient?
If you like living in good health, I recommend getting tested for vitamin insufficiency. All you have to do is ask your doctor for a 25-hydroxy vitamin D test. Set your goal for maintaining levels of at least 40-50 ng/ml.
If you have already been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, closer to 65 to 85 ng/ml is better. These higher levels will also help boost your immune response against viral infections, which is something we all want to do these days.
- If your levels are 30 ng/ml or lower, take at least 8,000 IU of vitamin D3 in the cholecalciferol form each day and retest in three months. (For best results, look for one that has a low dose of vitamin K2 and a bit of vitamin A too).
- If your levels are 31 to 40 ng/ml, supplement with 5,000 IU daily for three months. Then retest.
- If your numbers are over 40, you’re not deficient. Still, it’s a good idea to take 2,000-4,000 IU daily to maintain sufficient levels.
Don’t count on getting your vitamin D from the sun or your food. During the winter months, the sun is too far south in more than half of the states in the U.S. for people to even generate vitamin D. And the only appreciable food source is salmon.
The test is easy, insurance typically pays for it, and vitamin D supplements themselves are inexpensive. So there’s no reason not to get tested.
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