At Mercola.com, Dr. Joseph Mercola discusses what he casll the “crucial role of Vitamin D in physical and mental health.” He writes:
For decades, the conventional medical establishment and media have downplayed if not entirely ignored evidence showing that sun exposure is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle that prevents, as opposed to creates, diseases — including cancer.
Is that about to change? It’s too early to tell, but surprisingly supportive scientific papers and mainstream media articles have recently highlighted the benefits of sun exposure and vitamin D optimization.
Scientific Review Highlights Importance of Vitamin D
Among them is a scientific review published in the peer-reviewed journal Cureus, in which the authors highlight “the intricate relationship between Vitamin D and patient outcomes.” An excerpt from the paper, “The Sunlight-Vitamin D Connection: Implications for Patient Outcomes in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit,” reads:1
“Vitamin D, known for its multifaceted roles in immune modulation, inflammation regulation, and maintenance of calcium homeostasis, emerges as a pivotal factor in the care of critically ill patients.
Our exploration reveals a high prevalence of Vitamin D deficiency in the SICU, primarily attributable to limited sunlight exposure, comorbidities, and medication use.
Importantly, Vitamin D status impacts infection rates, mortality, and length of stay in the SICU, making it a clinically relevant consideration … The prospect of personalized Vitamin D supplementation strategies offers promise for optimizing patient care.”
The paper goes on to stress that vitamin D’s “crucial role in maintaining human health” goes well beyond its classical role in bone health (by regulating calcium and phosphorus homeostasis).
“Emerging evidence suggests that vitamin D exerts a much broader influence on various physiological processes,” the authors note. For example, they point out that vitamin D is “a potent immunomodulator, influencing the innate and adaptive immune responses”:
“In the innate immune response, Vitamin D enhances the production of antimicrobial peptides like cathelicidins and defensins, which are essential for defense against infections.
The adaptive immune response regulates the proliferation and differentiation of T and B cells, two critical immune system components. By modulating the immune response, Vitamin D can help the body defend against pathogens and may be involved in autoimmune diseases where the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s tissues.”
As such, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to health conditions such as osteoporosis, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. According to this paper, vitamin D is also “crucial for the functioning of the nervous system and has been associated with mental health disorders.”
Vitamin D is also a key regulator of cell growth and differentiation, and “Proper cell growth and differentiation regulation is crucial for maintaining tissue health and preventing abnormal cell proliferation, often associated with cancer,” the authors state.
Sensible Sunlight Exposure Is the Primary Source of Vitamin D
Importantly, the authors accurately stress that sunlight is the primary source of vitamin D, and while sunburn needs to be avoided, this risk needs to be balanced with the need for vitamin D production:2
“When ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation from the sun penetrates the skin, it triggers a series of enzymatic reactions that lead to the synthesis of Vitamin D in the body. This process highlights the crucial role of sunlight exposure in maintaining adequate Vitamin D levels …
Using clothing that covers most of the skin and applying sunscreen can block UVB radiation, inhibiting Vitamin D synthesis. While protecting the skin from harmful UV radiation is essential to prevent sunburn and skin cancer, individuals may need to balance sun protection practices with the need for Vitamin D production.
Strategies such as exposing uncovered skin for short periods or considering Vitamin D supplements may be necessary when sun protection is paramount.”
Vitamin D in Critical Illness
The authors also review the clinical implications of vitamin D in critically ill ICU patients, where the scientific evidence shows vitamin D deficiency:3
- Increases infection rates, including hospital-acquired nosocomial infections
- May increase mortality rates in SICU patients
- Is associated with longer hospital stays
Read more here.
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