Vitamin D has been in the news a lot lately, thanks to the link that’s been observed between COVID-19 deaths and vitamin D deficiency. If the research pans out, it could add to the long and growing list of health benefits that come from this essential nutrient.
And a new study in Anticancer Research adds even more evidence for the relationship between vitamin D and gut health.
Granted, the study was a small one, involving just 20 otherwise healthy adults with vitamin D deficiency. Some were given 600 IUs of oral vitamin D3 each day (the RDA for young adults), while others received 4000 or 10,000 IUs daily. Stool samples were collected and analyzed at the beginning of the study and 8 weeks later. The result?
Vitamin D3 supplementation was linked to a dose-dependent increase in bacteria associated with decreased inflammatory bowel disease activity.
In other words, their gut flora changed. Higher D3 intake meant more health-promoting bacteria and fewer of the kinds involved in IBD.
This comes on the heels of a review of the research that offered insight to the possibility that D deficiency may contribute to autoimmune disorders such as MS, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and IBS via the gut. “Vitamin D deficiency or supplementation changes the microbiome,” its authors write,
and manipulation of bacterial abundance or composition impacts disease manifestation.
Lack of vitamin D signaling due to dietary deficiency or genetic impairment of VDR [vitamin D receptor] expression/activity can impair physical and functional barrier integrity. This allows bacteria to interact with the host leading to stimulation or inhibition of immune responses.
Our natural, innate immunologic defenses may be compromised in the setting of vitamin D deficiency.
That puts a lot of people at risk, considering more than 1 billion people worldwide have vitamin D deficiency.
In light of studies such as these, naturopathic physician Dr. Jacob Schor suggests that it wouldn’t hurt to adopt the mindset that vitamin D’s mechanism of action “may be in shifting the gut microbiome rather than systemic biochemical effects on cells within the body.”
While supplementation can help, your best bet is to get the D you need naturally, from exposure to the sun. Most of us need just 10 to 15 minutes a day to maintain adequate levels, though apps like dminder can help determine your specific needs and track your exposure.
There aren’t a lot of foods that naturally contain good amounts of vitamin D, so you might want to consider adding some of those that do to your diet. You’ll find a good list of them here.
If you are concerned about your vitamin D levels or want a comprehensive nutritional analysis and an individualized supplement formula to build or enhance your overall health, contact us to set up a consult with Dr. Joe so he can tailor a plan for your specific needs.