The importance of the Vitamin D3 – the sunshine vitamin

 Friday 13 February, 2015    


  • Why sunshine should be on prescription


  • This didn’t make sense at first: It does now

  •  The flawed data that became damaging to health

Bring me sunshine, in your eyes,
Bring me rainbows, from the skies,
Life's too short to be spent having anything but fun,
We can be so content, if we gather little sunbeams.

Be light-hearted, all day long,
Keep me singing, happy songs,
Let your arms be as warm as the sun from up above,
Bring me fun, bring me sunshine, bring me love.

(Lyrics by Sylvia Dee)

Who’d have thought that memories of Eric Morecombe and Ernie Wise would be a topic of leading health debates?

The clip from their signature tune above should be in every doctor’s office throughout the land to help them remember how important sunshine is for each and every one of us.

In the deep dark throes of late winter we are all in desperate need of the big yellow glow in the sky.

In addition to the delight of sun-warmed skin and long lazy days it is now becoming a medical fact that sunshine lies at the heart of our health...and the lungs...the liver...and for all I know the spleen too*.

The wise among you may have cottoned on to my topic today, especially if you have been keeping up with the news.

It’s not so much the sun itself but the fact that its actions help our bodies generate the important vitamin D which continues to excite the medics.

Recently several major studies have been published that show this important fat soluble vitamin is linked to a range of health conditions.

Towards the end of last year, for instance, vitamin D deficiency was shown to be a common cause of asthma.

This didn’t make much sense to me as I failed to see a link between a vitamin and a respiratory condition.

But from my research I think I may have unearthed the reason, and why we should all take a daily dose of this important nutrient... I also think I have made a connection between incorrect dietary advice given out thirty years ago and the rise in many allergic reactions, like asthma.
Read on to discover my findings.

The logical reasons for a strange association

Let me begin with a conundrum... when is a vitamin not a vitamin?

When it’s a hormone of course!

This is the first thing we need to understand; unlike virtually every other micronutrient vitamin D doesn’t behave like part of our diet, and is found in very few foods other than fish and egg yolks in any quantity.

Even when we eat these foods or take oral supplements our bodies have to convert the vitamin D they contain into a useable form, one that acts as a hormone.

This is the essence of what I discovered once I began my research, the fact that in this form it has a profound and wide ranging effect on our immune system.

A range of chemicals are produced by our bodies to help us fight infections and promote healing, chief among them are a group known as interleukins.

These compounds cause the body to react to stimuli in various ways, but one of them, interleukin 17 (IL-17), could hold the key to asthma.

Inflammation is a fundamental part of asthma, causing the walls of the lungs and bronchioles within them to constrict and prevent the flow of air.

It is IL-17 which has been discovered to be the cause of inflammation in several organs, and a study in 2013 by Kings College, London, found that IL-17 levels were much higher in sufferers than non sufferers.

The team also found that asthmatics who did not respond to steroid treatments had even higher levels of IL-17.

This is where good old vitamin D came charging in on its white horse... you see the researchers found it prevents IL-17 being produced.

They concluded that vitamin D could potentially be an effective add-on treatment for all asthma sufferers, reducing the amount of steroid-based medicines prescribed.

I searched further trials data and found that where vitamin D was used levels of inflammation dropped.

Paper after paper showed that it helped reduce symptoms for congestive heart failure, inflammatory bowel disease, eczema and COPD... to name but a few of the recent ones.

Could it be that it is a truly natural anti-inflammatory then? Seems to make sense to me, and also explains why so many tests are showing that vitamin D is linked to health.

The final part of the jigsaw

Why then aren’t we doing more to improve the levels of vitamin D in our bodies?

A good question indeed.

Here we are in the winter period when we spend less time outdoors, and even if we do venture into the icy blasts the sun quality is too poor to help – even if we were in our bathing suits!

Tests show that our levels of vitamin D are at their lowest during this period of the year, and we lose more than we consume.

Which brings me to my second point; how do we prevent our bodies losing this precious commodity?

The answer my friends is fat.

This week a thirty year old health lie has been exposed.

Finally an article in the BMJ has stated that advice about the consumption of saturated fats was incorrect and should never have been produced.

For three decades nutritionists, dieticians and doctors have peddled the line that butter, fatty meat and cream are bad for us and now we learn that this was based on “flawed data” and "very limited evidence".

Oh joy...everything I have been saying since 2005 about a bit of butter being good for us has been proven right.

You see one of the reasons to eat plenty of fat is that vitamin D is one of the fat soluble vitamins and so we aid its storage – even for the short term.

So there you have it.

I can’t tell you how long I have waited to write such heart warming advice...

Bring me sunshine, in your smile,
Bring me laughter, all the while,
In this world where we live, there should be more happiness,
So much joy you can give, to each brand new bright tomorrow.

Yours, as always


*If you want to see a comprehensive list of all the conditions which Vitamin D has been linked to there is a resource produced by the Vitamin D Council here. 




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