Vitamin D3: The Important Vitamin You Could Be Lacking
Vitamin D3 is one of those supplements that many people forget they need and therefore rarely take, which can be a devastating combination when it comes to your immune system. Fortunately, this important vitamin can be obtained through sunlight, when in the presence of UVB rays, and in pill form.
Vitamin D3 has been proven to boost the strength of a person’s immune system and can aid in sleeping habits, as well as energy levels. Offering few side effects, one of the more pleasant facts concerning vitamin D3 is that there are no toxicity levels.
But what else does vitamin D3 have to offer? Why is it so important to not become deficient, particularly during the winter?
To begin with, vitamin D3 is a hormone, a protein that affects tissues all over the body and can be produced naturally. To be clear, vitamin D3 is what is gained through sunlight, not in fortified foods like vitamin D2.
However, the research on this hormone has been slow, and its beneficial factors are not often brought to light. Most people recognize that vitamin D3 is beneficial to your health, but few know why, so let’s start at the beginning.
Getting sick in the winter has become a stigma in American culture. It’s pretty common to hear someone blame their cold on the weather, much like blaming asthma on summer pollen. People tend to feel more fatigue in the winter, and they tend to stay inside because — let’s face it — it’s cold. And no one really wants to romp around in freezing weather any longer than they have to.
Here is the problem: by staying inside you are depriving your body of sunlight, specifically UVB rays, which gives your body a boost of vitamin D3. D3, in turn, increases your level of antimicrobial peptides, antibiotics that occur naturally in your body, according to Professor John White at McGill University. Vitamin D3 is what up-regulates the genetic production of these peptides, which strengthens your immune system anywhere from 3-5 times — better than most vaccines.
There are approximately 700-1,000 antimicrobial peptides in the human body at any given time, and these peptides specialize in different things. Vitamin D3 has been found to be extremely beneficial with cathelicidins, which have a wide range of actions. What makes them special, however, is that they are very efficient when dealing with capsule viruses and bacteria.
Imagine for a moment a gel capsule, like a fish oil vitamin. All the important parts of the pill are on the inside, and in order to keep them from leaking out they are surrounded with a tough exterior, almost like a shell.
Capsule prokaryotes work the same way, only they have a lipoprotein coat around their outside, which makes them much more difficult to get rid of than a typical bacterial cell. This is where the cathelicidins come into play: they are natural antibiotics that are strong enough to literally form a hole in the protein coat, which causes the prokaryote to die.
An interview with Dr. Joe Prendergast, M.D., posted by MedScape, acknowledged the fact that vitamin D3 “prevents excessive expression of inflammatory cytokines and increasing the ‘oxidative burst’ potential of macrophages.” Macrophages are formed through the differentiation of monocytes and produced in response to an infection.
Large and aware, these cells can engulf and “eat” targeted cells within the body. They are responsible for keeping threatening prokaryotic cells in check, such as bacteria and viruses, which is why you are always encouraged to keep a high, healthy white-count level.
The encouraged dose of vitamin D3 is around 3,000- 4,000 units per day, though if a day is missed, taking more the next day will make up for the missed dosage. This is possible because vitamin D3 is fat soluble, meaning it literally gets stored in body fat and released back out again.
However, getting vitamin D3 from the sun rather than an oral pill is much more beneficial, when possible. When obtained from the sun, vitamin D3 lasts 2-3 times longer than oral doses and allows the body to make photoproducts, which have unique biological properties.
In relation to melanomas, which are what many dermatologists are concerned with when it comes to sun exposure, there are only certain parts of the body you should allow to soak up the sun. The arms, legs, back, and stomach are all safe, though you should apply sunscreen and not remain in the sun for extended periods of time. You should not, however, leave your face exposed. That is the easiest place to get melanomas on your body.
Vitamin D3 deficiency is affecting approximately 50 percent of the country, and according to Dr. Joseph Mercola and Dr. Michael Holick, it increases the potential for a severe medical problem. In their discussion, Mercola and Holick bring to light that being vitamin D3 deficient means having a 50 percent higher chance of a heart attack, and if a person has already had a heart attack, it increases their chances of death by 100 percent.
In a European study, scientists predicted that 16 major cancers could be diminished by 90 percent if the population would take higher levels of vitamin D3. That’s too large a potential to be ignored.
While vitamin D3 undeniably has many beneficial properties, these do not mean that it is going to become an all-around cure. While proving to be quite effective against colds, for example, it should not be taken as a fail-safe treatment. It is not a cure: it is an effective way to boost your immune system and enable your body to fight off certain illnesses with more success.
Regardless, it is clear that vitamin D3 and its properties should be investigated further, and that more studies on this vitamin should be made available to the public.
About the Author
Lauren Swan is a content editor for MultiBriefs. Before her start with MultiView, Lauren interned for Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.). She received a Bachelor of Arts in editing, writing and media from Florida State University. During her time at FSU, she concentrated her studies and writing profession in the fields of biology, chemistry and politics.