The connection between cellular saturation of the prohormone vitamin D and development of chronic conditions ranging from cancer, dementia, stroke and heart disease have been well documented among forward-thinking scientists for at least a decade now. The specific mechanism of action has not been well documented though, as most studies have not drawn a clear line between blood levels of vitamin D and disease prevention.
Researchers from National Jewish Health reporting in The Journal of Immunology have discovered specific molecular and signaling events by which vitamin D inhibits inflammation to help prevent and possibly even treat a host of potentially deadly diseases. Current levels considered satisfactory by most medical professionals did not inhibit the inflammatory cascade, leading to the progression of many forms of disease. Conversely, individuals that maintain significantly higher blood levels of vitamin D had lower levels of inflammatory markers known to aggravate disease progression and were protected against the major killers so prevalent today.
High vitamin D status inhibits inflammatory messengers to prevent chronic disease
The study author, Dr. Elena Goleva noted that this research “goes beyond previous associations of vitamin D with various health outcomes. It outlines a clear chain of cellular events, from the binding of DNA, through a specific signaling pathway, to the reduction of proteins known to trigger inflammation.” Current guidelines call for minimum vitamin D blood serum levels of 20 ng/ml, a benchmark set decades ago that was intended to prevent rickets in children and promote bone health. Researchers conducting this study found improvement in inflammation levels at a minimum of 30 ng/ml, leaving millions at risk for chronic disease.
Scientists conducting this study examined the specific mechanisms exhibited by vitamin D to act on immune and inflammatory pathways. They incubated white blood cells with different saturation levels of vitamin D and then exposed the culture to an inflammatory molecule known to promote intense inflammatory responses. Cells exposed to low levels of vitamin D (less than 15 ng/ml) produced excessive levels of the inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and TNF-alpha, associated with disease development and progression. The highest level of inflammatory inhibition occurred at 50 ng/ml and above as cells become fully saturated with the prohormone and maximum immune response is observed.
Researchers identified a new location where the vitamin-D receptor appears to bind directly to DNA and activate a gene known as MKP-1, interfering with the inflammatory cascade promoted by long-term stress and a highly refined, processed food diet. Dr. Goleva concluded “The fact that we showed a dose-dependent and varying response to levels commonly found in humans also adds weight to the argument for vitamin D’s role in immune and inflammatory conditions.” Maintain your vitamin D blood levels above 50 ng/ml (measured with the 25(OH)D test) to afford maximum protection against chronic inflammatory-mediated diseases.