Vitamin D is a Powerful Anti-Inflammatory

By: Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
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Several new studies demonstrate the power of vitamin D to reduce inflammation and pain, operating at the DNA level to regulate genes to reduce inflammation.  This information expands our understanding of vitamin D in relation to the immune response and sends a clear message that people with any kind of pain or ongoing inflammation should optimize their vitamin D levels as a key aspect of solving inflammatory problems.

We have known for some time that vitamin D is needed for optimal immune performance, whether combating pain or fighting the flu.  It is well established that vitamin D is the single most important substance in your body for something called immune system tolerance, which means “how hot can your frying pan get before there are major overheating problems?”  Such a concept is highly relevant to fighting infection (too hot means death or severe infection) as well as pain (especially autoimmune pain).

One new study evaluated the vitamin D status and pain levels in 2,070 adults over age 65.  Of these adults, 53 percent had moderate to severe pain, and all were linked to poor vitamin D status, a relationship that held true when other variables were taken into account. 

Another new study documents, for the first time, precise mechanisms by which vitamin D lowers inflammation.  The researchers show a new receptor for vitamin D on DNA.  When vitamin D lands on this receptor then core gene signaling takes place that reduces inflammation.  This is a powerful anti-inflammatory mechanism of the most fundamental nature.  If a person is lacking vitamin D then this receptor cannot possibly be activated in an optimal way, placing that person at higher risk for magnified inflammation from any health issue.

This places vitamin D on par with DHA as potent regulators of inflammation at the most fundamental levels of human health.  Since both nutrients are woefully lacking in Americans, especially in the winter months, you would think public health officials would be all over this news.  Unfortunately, the FDA hates vitamins and can’t bear to tell the public something good to do, especially if it might curtail the sales of dangerous drugs with many side effects.

People battling ongoing pain should boost their vitamin D intake and see if it helps.  Blood levels should be in the middle to high middle of normal range, not just barely above the bottom end of normal or out of range on the low side.

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