How vitamin D promotes oxidative balance, boosts gut health and fights inflammation By Olivia Cook for Prevention
The beneficial biological actions of vitamin D support just about every physiological system in your body – brain health, cognitive function and nervous system health, gut health and immunity, healthy digestive system, heart health and cardiovascular function, hair and skin health, skeletal health, bone metabolism and others.
But some people are at risk of vitamin D deficiency.
These include dark-skinned people who have reduced ability to absorb ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from the sun; people who lack sun exposure (people who live in areas of high pollution, work night shifts or are homebound); infants who have not been breastfed; older adults whose skin’s ability to synthesize vitamin D decreases with age; those with health conditions that limit fat absorption; people with high levels of body fat; or people who are vegan and avoid foods that are rich in vitamin D.
Fortunately, they can use vitamin D supplements to help address that issue. Vitamin D supplements are available in capsules, sprays, chewables and drops.
Studies have identified key areas where vitamin D supplements can be of help. They are:
A study in Pharmacological Research highlighted the positive effect of vitamin D supplementation on reducing oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation.
Lipid peroxidation is generally described as a process under which oxidants, such as free radicals, attack lipids, especially “good fats” or polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that regulate hormones, transmit nerve impulses, cushion organs and store energy in the form of body fat.
In a new umbrella meta-analysis of Pharmacological Research, scientists specifically outline supplementation with vitamin D as a valid and effective solution for both combating oxidative stress and supporting pro-inflammatory actions.
A study published in Cureus demonstrated vitamin D’s ability to promote oxidative balance, also known as homeostasis. Thiol/disulfide (T/DS) homeostasis represents a promising new approach to evaluate oxidative stress.
Science says immunity begins in your gut and is influenced by the thousands of bacteria, fungi, viruses and other microbes (collectively known as your gut microbiome) that live in it.
Some bacteria are associated with better health outcomes, others with poorer consequences.
In the gut microbiome, the “good bacteria” do more than just promote healthy digestion. They help keep your “bad bacteria” in check and they multiply so often that the unhealthy kind doesn’t have space to grow.
Equilibrium is what you call having a healthy balance in your gut.
A study published in Scientific Reports highlighted the positive impact of vitamin D supplementation on the richness and diversity of gut microbiota.
A separate study has also found that vitamin D supplementation increased the abundance of health-promoting bacteroidetes that provide protection from pathogens and metabolize or break down polysaccharides (starch, cellulose and glycogen) and oligosaccharides (sucrose, lactose and maltose), supplying nutrients to the host and other microbial residents of the gut.
It also decreased the abundance of bad gut microbes called firmicutes.
Experts have consistently linked low levels of vitamin D to an increased risk of inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis and sepsis.
A study published in Biomolecules reported that recent epidemiological evidence has indicated a significant association between “vitamin D deficiency and an increased incidence or aggravation of infectious diseases and inflammatory autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus and multiple sclerosis.” (Related: Vitamin D supplementation helps sufferers of chronic hives.)
Vitamin D supplementation has been used to protect against or treat some inflammatory diseases, but its effectiveness remains unclear.
Researchers recommend further studies to “determine the mechanisms of vitamin D in each disease to establish proper treatment strategies for the future.”
Important things you should know before taking vitamin D supplements
A study in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism has found that “Australians are spending massive amounts of money on vitamin D supplements, a portion of which may potentially be unnecessary.”
If you have a vitamin D deficiency, consult a natural health practitioner to learn the appropriate dose of vitamin D you need to take daily to address your specific health needs. (Related: Vitamin D supplementation—how will it help me improve my health?)
If you are not vitamin D deficient and consume more than you need, it is possible to reach toxic levels.
High levels of calcium in your blood (hypercalcemia) can lead to calcium deposits in soft tissues, such as your heart and lungs; confusion and disorientation; harm to your kidneys (create kidney stones); or nausea, vomiting, constipation, poor appetite, weakness and weight loss.