We all know about the main things that vitamin D does for us, and that many folks – especially those of us who have lighter skins and live farther north (or south) can have chronic shortages. But recent studies have revealed that Vitamin D impacts a far wider range of health issues than we thought…
Vitamin D does not protect against dementia
A new study by researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia has found that vitamin D (also commonly known as the sunshine vitamin) is unlikely to protect individuals from multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or other brain-related disorders.
“Past studies had found that patients with a neurodegenerative disease tended to have lower levels of vitamin D compared to healthy members of the population,” study Lead Author Krystal Iacopetta explains.
“This led to the hypothesis that increasing vitamin D levels, either through more UV and sun exposure or by taking vitamin D supplements, could potentially have a positive impact. A widely held community belief is that these supplements could reduce the risk of developing brain-related disorders or limit their progression. The results of our in-depth review and an analysis of all the scientific literature however, indicates that this is not the case and that there is no convincing evidence supporting vitamin D as a protective agent for the brain.”
No evidence Vitamin D protects against high blood pressure in pregnancy
A new survey of existing data from a number of countries indicates here is no strong evidence that vitamin D protects against pregnancy-induced high blood pressure (hypertension) or pre-eclampsia.
The findings support current World Health Organization guidance that evidence recommending vitamin D supplements for women during pregnancy to reduce adverse pregnancy outcomes is insufficient. However, in many countries, including the UK and the US, pregnant women are advised to take a daily dose of vitamin D.
It is common for pregnant women to have low levels of vitamin D, which can suppress the hormone that regulates blood pressure, which, in turn, may increase the risk of both hypertension and pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. Previous population-based studies have found that women with lower levels of vitamin D are at greater risk of pre-eclampsia and some trials of vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy suggest a potential benefit. But it remains unclear whether vitamin D insufficiency is a cause of pre-eclampsia.
More research, they say, is needed to reach a definitive conclusion.
Review infant Vitamin D recommendations?
Researchers at the University of Birmingham say a recent UK tragedy suggests Vitamin D policy and recommendations need to be reviewed.
The death of six-month-old Noah Thahane, who died following complications of heart failure caused by severe Vitamin D deficiency, was entirely preventable, conclude Dr. Wolfgang Högler and PhD doctoral researcher Dr. Suma Uday in research published today in BMC Pediatrics.
Högler and Uday argue that current UK recommendations for infants and children are overly complex and outdated. They are calling for updated and simplified guidance to include supplementation of all babies from birth, regardless of whether they are formula or breast fed.
They are also calling on the UK government to introduce mandatory monitoring of babies and pregnant women to ensure they are taking vitamin D supplements.
Low Vitamin D levels associated with higher risk of lung disease
Reviewing medical information gathered on more than 6,000 adults over a 10-year period, researchers have found that lower than normal blood levels of vitamin D were linked to increased risk of early signs of interstitial lung disease (ILD).
Interstitial lung disease is a relatively rare group of disorders characterized by lung scarring and inflammation that may lead to progressive, disabling and irreversible lung damage. An estimated 200,000 cases a year are diagnosed in the United States, most of them caused by environmental toxins such as asbestos or coal dust, but it can be caused by autoimmune disorders, infections, medication side effects or, sometimes, from unknown causes.
“We knew that the activated vitamin D hormone has anti-inflammatory properties and helps regulate the immune system, which goes awry in ILD,” says Dr. Erin Michos, Associate Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “There was also evidence in the literature that vitamin D plays a role in obstructive lung diseases such as asthma and COPD, and we [have] now found that the association exists with this scarring form of lung disease too.”
~ Maggie J.