Proper nutrition is essential for attaining and maintaining good health. This often ignored truism becomes salient when health is lost. Vitamin D is one of those critical components that was, for centuries, overlooked. What are the consequences of ignoring vitamin D?
Why should you check your levels with a kit like AgingSOS’s™ at-home test?
In 1822 Sniadecki noticed a high rate of rickets in Warsaw, suggesting a lack of sunlight was the root cause. His observations fell on deaf ears. In the interim others would sound the alarm, but it wasn’t until 1919, nearly a hundred years later, that the correlation became widely accepted.
Studies have linked vitamin D deficiencies with an ever-growing number of serious illnesses. In the 1940s it was shown that people living at higher latitudes (colder and darker climates) have higher rates of several cancers. Since then, vitamin D has been implicated in a variety of autoimmune disorders.
Despite what we now know, vitamin D deficiency is making a comeback. A recent survey of women in the United States discovered that by the end of the winter, 41% of African American women aged 15–49 years and 4% of Caucasian women at summer’s end were deficient in vitamin D (Nesby, 2002).
Deficiency is not uncommon in otherwise healthy young adults. One study reported that 36% of medical personnel aged 18–29 years had inadequate levels of vitamin D following a Boston winter (Tangpricha, 2002).
Vitamin D is actually a steroid with hormone-like properties. As an essential precursor to 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, a prerequisite for bone growth and development in children as well as the maintenance of bone in adults. These effects are known as classical effects of Vitamin D, they have been widely known and understood for a long time. However, more research has shed light on vitamin D’s numerous effects.
Indeed, vitamin D receptors are found in many tissues throughout the body, playing key roles in a multitude of processes. Researchers have detected Vitamin D receptors from the brain to the colon, which suggests its role in bone health is merely one of many functions (Bikle, 2009).
Among the critical roles vitamin D plays, one of them is an essential element in our immune systems. Myriad cross-sectional studies have connected inadequate levels of vitamin D with increased infection. One report studied nearly 19,000 subjects over the course of six years. The predominance of self-reported upper respiratory infections was significantly higher in individuals with low levels of vitamin D. This conclusion was determined after the researchers had adjusted for confounding variables (Ginde, 2009).
This finding may have serious implications in respect to the present global pandemic. In fact, researchers have turned their eyes towards vitamin D during these perilous times.
The findings reveal at European countries with higher frequencies of vitamin D deficiency also have the highest infection and death rates. The correlation between vitamin D levels and mortality rates reached conventional significance, in accordance with the Spearman’s Rank Correlation (Laird, 2020).
The epidemiological data continues to point towards positive benefits of vitamin D for the prevention and mitigation of COVID-19. Considering the profound immunological effects of vitamin D, as well as our already substantial understanding of the classical effects in bone health, it stands to reason that we should pay careful attention to our own vitamin D levels.
Nesby-O’Dell S, Scanlon KS, Cogswell ME, et al. 2002. Hypovitaminosis D prevalence and determinants among African American and white women of reproductive age: Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988–1994. Am J Clin Nutr 76:187–192.
Tangpricha V, Pearce EN, Chen TC, Holick MF. 2002. Vitamin D insufficiency among free-living healthy young adults. Am J Med 112(8):659–662.
Bikle D. Nonclassic actions of vitamin D. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2009;94(1):26–34.
Ginde AA, Mansbach JM, Camargo CA., Jr. Association between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level and upper respiratory tract infection in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(4):384–90.
Laird E, Rhodes J, Kenny RA. Vitamin D and Inflammation: Potential Implications for Severity of Covid-19. Ir Med J. 2020 May 7;113(5):81. PMID: 32603576.
Adam Alonzi is a writer, biotechnologist, documentary maker, futurist, inventor, programmer, and author two novels. He is an analyst for the Millennium Project, and Head of Social Media and Content Creation for BioViva Sciences. Listen to his podcasts here. Read his blog here.