Do you know someone with an autoimmune disease? These diseases occur when your immune system turns against your own body instead of fighting pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. Autoimmune diseases affect different areas of the body and include illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Chron’s, psoriasis, Grave’s, type I diabetes, amongst numerous other ailments. Little is known about how or why autoimmune diseases occur and once diagnosed, you’re looking primarily at management of the disease as treatment is very limited. At a conference, I saw a speaker presenting some research that suggests vitamin D is important in preventing these diseases and I went looking for the link that makes this possible.
From what I can find, there are a few things going on here. First of all, just like any disease process, it is agreed that autoimmune disease starts with inflammation and this inflammation is directly linked to lifestyle (diet, stress, and exercise). In particular, an inflammatory diet rich in grains, gluten, and sugars will increase inflammation in the gut or intestines. This inflammation creates swelling in the cellular lining of the gut. This lining is important because it serves to allow favorable nutrients to pass from the intestine into the bloodstream while keeping unfavorable toxins from getting in. When the lining becomes swollen, the gut becomes “leaky” allowing the toxins to pass through. This is known as leaky gut disease and is associated with inflammatory bowel diseases. The resulting toxicity of the blood gets into the cells, causing damage and putting the immune system in an alarmed state. Over time this increased immune state can lead to autoimmune disorders. It turns out that vitamin D plays a critical role in preserving the integrity of the intestinal lining thereby reducing inflammation and allowing the gut to heal appropriately. Other research at Harvard and similar studies from Oxford found that vitamin D helps regulate the genes that are involved with autoimmune disease as well as many different cancers. My personal belief is that it is likely the toxins in the blood from the swollen gut that get to the cells and alter the genes in the first place.
There are still professionals out there that tell people taking vitamins is a waste of time and money. They clearly don’t follow their own research. The blood test to check for your vitamin D levels costs about 35 bucks and the vitamin itself is one of the cheapest ones out there. Over the years, I’ve shared several other reasons why D is so important, but if, for some reason, you were still on the fence, I hope this new information will motivate you to get your levels checked. Remember that we get D naturally from sunlight in the summer, but it is estimated that 50% of the adults and children out there are deficient. Do yourself a favor and get yourself and your family checked and supplement until your levels are optimal.