(See part 1 here)
This now brings us to the beginning of our discussion on the importance of immune regulation as regards to type 1 diabetes, and autoimmunity in general. Here I must caution the reader to be leery with the popular idea of “boosting” the immune system. So many products are marketed with this catchy immune boosting idea, but, know that when you have autoimmunity, your immune system may already be boosted! Instead, as we are dealing with a dysfunctional immune system we should focus on regulating, or balancing, the immune system and Vitamin D plays just such a crucial role.
Before our son Liam had been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, I fortunately, had spent quite some time studying the research on Vitamin D. Research in the last 10 years has shown that this vital nutrient’s effects on the body are much broader than previously thought; including, but not limited to, the immune system, insulin secretion by the pancreatic β cell, heart functioning and blood pressure regulation, brain and fetal development, prevention of breast, prostate, lung, thyroid, and colorectal cancers (and possibly others), bone health, and mood and depression.
For quick reference, I have put together a short list of facts for the reader:
- There are well over 800 references in the medical literature showing vitamin D’s effectiveness against cancer alone.
- Sun exposure is your best source of vitamin D, as your skin naturally creates it in response to UV radiation. However, many people, especially those living in northern latitudes, are simply unable to get the necessary sun exposure needed to maintain clinically relevant vitamin D levels of 50-70 ng/ml year-round necessitating Vitamin D supplementation.
- New studies show that many as 85% of U.S. teens and adults may be deficient in vitamin D whose deficits are increasingly correlated to cancer, heart disease and autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes (Nearly all non-Hispanic blacks [97%] and most Mexican-Americans [90%] now have vitamin D insufficiency).
- Vitamin D levels are measured in terms of serum 25(OH)D level.
- It is projected that raising the MINIMUM year-around serum 25(OH)D level to 40-60 ng/mL would prevent approximately 58,000 new cases of breast cancer and 49,000 new cases of colorectal cancer each year. Ideally, you’ll want a vitamin D level above 50 ng/ml, but a bare minimum of 40 ng/ml is recommended.
- In addition, raising serum 25(OH)D minimum to 40-60 ng/mL would prevent three fourths of deaths from these diseases in the United States and Canada, based on observational studies combined with a randomized trial. Such intakes also are expected to reduce case-fatality rates of patients who have breast, colorectal, or prostate cancer by half.
- When it comes to vitamin D, you don’t want to be in the “average” or “normal” range, you want to be in the “OPTIMAL” range. The reason for this is that as the years have gone by, researchers have progressively moved that range upward. At present, based on the evaluation of healthy populations that get plenty of natural sun exposure, the optimal range for general health appears to be somewhere between 50 and 70 ng/ml.
- The ONLY way to accurately determine how much Vitamin D you might need is by testing your blood level of vitamin D.
- Research published in 2007 by Lappe et al showed that after four years of follow up, there was a 77% cancer risk reduction in women who received 1,100 IUs of vitamin D and 1,450 mg calcium per day, and achieved a serum level of approximately 40 ng/ml.
- Another 2007 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine concluded that a serum 25(OH)D level of more than 33 ng/mL was associated with a 50 percent lower risk of colorectal cancer.
- Very importantly for those suffering from Type 1 Diabetes or other forms of autoimmunity, since vitamin D also modulates (balances) your immune response, it can prevent an overreaction in the form of inflammation, which can lead to a variety of autoimmune disorders, such as Crohn’s disease for example.
- 60 percent of patients with type 2 diabetes have vitamin D deficiency.
Here is a chart that I found useful in determining how much Vitamin D you should be taking based on your current blood level:
As I was aware of much of this information prior to Liam’s diagnosis, as mentioned above, I did try in vain to get him to take chewable Vitamin D tablets. Both of my children refused to take them and I reluctantly gave up trying. Our crisis with diabetes, however, drastically changed things and I knew I had to get him to take it.
An important side note is relevant here. If you opt for a vitamin D supplement, you also need to take vitamin K2. The biological role of vitamin K2 is to help move calcium into the proper areas in your body, such as your bones and teeth. It also helps remove calcium from areas where it shouldn’t be, such as in your arteries and soft tissues. Vitamin K2 deficiency is actually what produces the consequences similar to vitamin D toxicity.
Fortunately, I discovered that he would take liquid Vitamin D3 drops and found one that is formulated with Vitamin K2. They also have the side benefit as being sealed in tocopherals (Vitamin E) for delivery. Vitamin E (after Vitamin D) is the second most commonly deficient nutrient, so it was a double win!
For convenience, I’ve included a link to the Vitamin D product that my family and I use. The reasons we choose this product are as follows: the liquid drops are relatively tasteless and easy for kids to consume, the manufacturer uses no artificial colors, additives or sweeteners, and they subject their products to independent lab testing to insure purity and the highest quality standards.
If you are a Life Time Fitness member follow this link and, upon ordering, enter 11236 in the trainer ID box and choose autoship to receive up to a 20% discount: https://shop.lifetimefitness.com/
If you are not a current Life Time fitness the same high quality product can be found here by clicking the image below:
Keep in mind, a family of 4 would need about two bottles per month until each family members achieves the desired blood levels of Vitamin D.
I would like to end the discussion on Vitamin D on this final note; if you are a medical practitioner reading this,
I implore you to please start using this information in your practice! Countless degrees of suffering and death can be prevented! The research and practical evidences are there. You now have the necessary information at your disposal, so what you now do with this knowledge is on your conscience.
In part 4, I will cover the importance of Omega-3 fatty acids as I continue to elaborate on the immune regulation step of treating type 1 diabetes and other forms of autoimmunity.
As I believe in integrity and transparency, please note that the product links above are affiliate links. This means that I will earn a small commission if you decide to purchase the product linked to. My purpose for writing this blog is primarily informational and so, for this reason, I’m very grateful when you use an affiliate link because it helps me cover the expenses of hosting this blog and continuing to provide you with the most useful wellness information that I can!
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