Vitamin D - An important part of our lives

01/08/2021

Vitamin D is also called the sunshine vitamin because one of its main sources in our bodies is skin synthesis, which is made possible by exposure to the sun. As an organic compound, it has been the subject of much research and is studied extensively by scientists. In laboratory nomenclature, it is coded as 25(OH)D3 and its recommended blood level is between 30 and 80 ng/ml. Its deficiency is thought to be a common cause of cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases, as well as cancers. Discover the importance of vitamin D for the body's immunity, but also as a supplement to the daily diet.

Strong bones, but not only!

The most common form of vitamin D3 is cholecalciferol, which is synthesised in the body with the help of ultraviolet (UV) light. Its primary function is to regulate the calcium-phosphate balance and the metabolism of bone tissue, which means that it primarily influences the structure and function of bones and teeth, keeping them healthy and strong. It is therefore important for the prevention of bone diseases such as osteoporosis or rickets.

Vitamin D3, which is responsible for maintaining the correct level of calcium in the blood, is also important for the proper functioning of the nervous system, in the processes of nerve impulse conduction and muscle spasms.

Studies confirm that vitamin D supplementation in childhood reduces the risk of type I diabetes. On the other hand, people who have recently developed type II diabetes and who take care of their levels achieve the desired effects in terms of insulin secretion and glucose tolerance.

Vitamin D has a positive effect on strengthening the immune system, promoting natural defence processes against viruses and bacteria. This is important in times of increased incidence of flu and flu-like infections.

Vitamin D deficiency - what can be done about it?

Vitamin D deficiency is quite common, affecting between 50% and 80% of the population. The most common reason for this deficiency is insufficient sunlight due to the latitude at which we live. In Luxembourg, the period from March to September is considered to provide an adequate supply of vitamin D with 15 to 30 minutes of exposure per day (or until the skin turns slightly pink) of the hands, arms and face.

Deficiency of this valuable vitamin is also influenced by age (the older you get, the greater the need) and skin type (the darker the skin tone, the less the vitamin is absorbed).

Taking into account the above factors as well as the autumn-winter period, which is characterised by insufficient sunlight, oral supplementation is recommended - in adults, at an average dose of 800-2000 IU. This recommendation is also supported by the fact that available food products are not fortified with a level of cholecalciferol that would allow the recommended daily dose to be achieved.

Anti-cancer effects of vitamin D

Given the strong link between vitamin D and the body's immunity, studies to date indicate that it also has anti-cancer properties. Firstly, it speeds up the death of cancer cells (called apoptosis) and reduces the rate of formation of new blood vessels that feed the existing cancerous tumour (called angiogenesis). This is the general conclusion of in vitro tests for breast, lung, colon, prostate and bladder cancer.

Studies examining the influence of vitamin D supplementation on chemotherapy outcomes are promising - the combination of 1,25(OH)2D3 at a dose of 0.5 µg with the standard chemotherapy drug docetaxel gave better treatment results than using the chemotherapy drug alone.

Immunity - a powerful weapon in the fight against cancer

Stimulation of the immune system is an important preventive measure against diseases of civilisation, but it is particularly recommended for people who have been or are currently being treated in oncology.

Such optimistic results as the combination of vitamin D with docetaxel have been achieved by combining chemotherapy with arabinoxylate - a compound from the outer husk of cereal grains such as rice or wheat. This main component of dietary fibre is considered a natural prebiotic that stimulates the gut microflora and contributes to the growth of beneficial germ-fighting bacteria.

Sources: Milena Osińska, Anna Pazik, Kinga Krasuska, Rafał Zadykowicz, Adam Kazberuk, Edyta Rysiak, The role of vitamin D deficiency in the pathogenesis of cancer (Le rôle de la carence en vitamine D dans la pathogenèse du cancer), FARMACJA WSPÓŁCZESNA (PHARMACIE MODERNE) 2017; 10: 100-106. (lien : https://www.akademiamedycyny.pl/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/6.pdf)

Alina Kuryłowicz, Tomasz Bednarczuk, Janusz Nauman, Influence of vitamin D deficiency on the development of cancer and autoimmune diseases (L'influence de la carence en vitamine D sur le développement du cancer et des maladies auto-immunes), Endocrinologie polonaise, /Polish Journal of Endocrinology Tome/Volume 58; Numéro/Number 2/2007 ISSN 0423-104X. (lien : https://journals.viamedica.pl/endokrynologia_polska/article/viewFile/25645/20467)

Karolina Kulik-Kupka, Justyna Nowak, Aneta Koszowska, Anna Brończyk-Puzoń, Anna Dittfeld, Barbara Zubelewicz-Szkodzińska, Vitamins in the fight against cancer (Les vitamines dans la lutte contre le cancer), Med Rodz 2016; 1(19): 26-31. (lien : https://www.medrodzinna.pl/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/mr_2016_026-031.pdf)

Better medicine, The underestimation of vitamin D in cancer prevention (Un meilleur médicament, La sous-estimation de la vitamine D dans la prévention du cancer) - revue des études, lien internet https://www.lepszylek.pl/czytelnia/artykul/732,niedoceniana-witamina-d-w-profilaktyce-nowotworow-przeglad-badan (24.02.2020).

Biobran.co.uk, Benefits of arabinoxylan, accessed online at https://www.biobran.pl/page/news/korzysci-plynace-z-arabinoksylanu/ (24.02.2020).