Last week we looked at a few of the supplements that might be necessary to take if you consume a plant-based diet. One such supplement that I mentioned was vitamin D; the sunshine vitamin. This fat soluble hormone is typically known for promoting healthy bones, which it does well. But there is increasing evidence to suggest that it plays many other important roles in the body, regardless of dietary preferences.
A recent podcast interview with biomedical scientist Dr.Rhonda Patrick brought to light some of these benefits, many of which are rarely talked about. Dr. Patrick’s latest study showed that vitamin D plays a key role in the synthesis of serotonin , the hormone responsible for mood regulation. Low levels of serotonin are also linked to Autism, and the study concludes that vitamin D supplementation may be a practical solution to help prevent the disease and reduce the severity of symptoms.
Having optimum vitamin D levels has also been linked to a slowing down of the ageing process, and an overall lower risk of mortality . A 2007 study compared the serum vitamin D levels in a large population based cohort of twins, and found that those with higher vitamin D levels also had a longer Leukocyte telomere lengths (LTL) . Longer LTL is associated with slower ageing, and lower rates of inflammation. This is supported by the fact that the subjects in the study with the lowest amounts of serum vitamin D also had higher levels of C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation.
A slowing down of the ageing process brings with it a reduced risk of developing age related disease. A 2008 study showed that a vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease . A pooled analysis study in 2007 also showed that vitamin D could play a role in preventing breast cancer , and a paper published in 2001 showed a potential for vitamin D to reduce the risk of developing type-1 diabetes .
It is clear that vitamin D plays an important role in the in maintaining lasting wellness, and it will be interesting to see what future research will unveil. Vitamin D is thought to be involved in expressing over a thousand different genes throughout the body, so having the right levels in your blood is crucial. A 2009 review study concluded that blood levels of vitamin D between 35 to 40 ng/ml may be optimum for preventive health .
As I mentioned last week, I take a vitamin D-3 supplement as it is more bio available than vitamin D-2. The amount you need to take for optimum levels in the blood will vary however, as many factors can affect the amount of the vitamin you can absorb (such as body fat percentage). I recommend getting your blood levels checked before using any supplements, to verify what is personally right for you.