Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Drugs Kill -- They Cause Harm, Disease and Death

The original title of this post was going to be: "The Top 10 Prescription Drugs". But, as I started to research the top drugs, I realized that the title needed to be stronger and more to the point so that you will take this topic a lot more seriously.

Today, the number of people dying from prescription drugs and other medical errors rank it as the Number 3 killer behind heart disease and cancer. The total number of deaths range from 98,000 to 106,000!

If you take a look at the drugs associated with 3 of the top diseases in America, you can see that the track record for these drugs is abysmal.

Drugs for heart disease end up causing the exact same problems that the drugs were supposed to prevent, namely heart attacks and strokes.

Drugs for diabetes lower your blood sugar, but, the drugs don't stop the disease from continuing to rot out your body until one day, you have a heart attack, stroke or you end up with a bruise that doesn't heal and several months later they have to amputate your foot.

Drugs for cancer patients may be the worse -- they cause more catastrophic damage than any other drug; plus cancer drugs have less than a 3% success rate!

Now, I know what you're thinking: "This is not going to happen to me." Well, the medical data & statistics from the CDC and NIH say otherwise. There's a simple reason why heart attacks, strokes, amputation, etc. continue to increase every year -- we live in denial, fear and/or ignorance and somehow believe that it's just not going to happen.

If you doubt of any this, then, do your own research; or, at least, make sure that you read some of the reports identified in this post and take action before you or a loved one become one of those statistics.
  
Doctors and Drugs
Most of us are told by our doctors to take drugs, because the drugs are supposed to help us with our disease. Doctors give us the false sense of security that the drugs are actually going to help us.

Your doctor fails to tell you that the drugs do NOTHING to stop the spread of the cell and tissue damage being caused by the disease! In fact, over a period of years, the drugs actually cause damage to the liver and/or kidneys among other organs!

And, if you have an adverse reaction to the drug, your doctor may not tell you why this is happening -- that the drug is actually POISONING your body. Instead, your doctor will just put you on a different drug or tell you: "Hang in there -- you'll be okay." WHAT??? Is this all we get for a $250 appointment?

So, you should be very careful, not to jump at taking a drug just because your doctor has assured you that it's okay! Just take 30 seconds and google the drug! And, you'll see that it's NOT okay! And, if you look further, you'll see that, in most cases, there are safe non-drug alternatives!

Now, I must admit that I'm being a little hypocritical here -- I didn't take the 30 seconds to google the drug that I was taking. Instead, I took the drugs happily. And, if it weren't for my fear of needles, I would have gladly continued taking the drugs and injecting myself 4 times a day with insulin.

But, because I was afraid of needles, I tried to convince my endocrinologist to reduce my 4 shots down to 3. He smiled and said, given my diagnosis and possible double-leg amputation, that he was considering increasing my insulin shots from 4 to 5! Well, that motivated me to find a solution.

And, luckily for me, my mother and daughter intervened; and, my mother made me eat what she called "God's special foods".  When I was growing up, I thought that meant "poor people's food". :-) I didn't realize that we were eating super foods! :-o

But, I digress: Getting back to these toxic drugs ...

All drugs are toxic. Let me repeat that: All drugs are toxic! Just because you feel better doesn't mean your liver is happy about this! :-)

Now, don't get me wrong -- I know that drugs save lives -- in fact, drugs saved my life. So I'm thankful for the drugs. But, being told that I would have to take the drugs for the rest of my life just didn't make any sense to me. And, it shouldn't make any sense to you. Some of you have been taking diabetic drugs for years -- do you really think that your body will continue to absorb these toxins without incidence?

Long-term use of drugs for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. lead to many health problems, including heart failure, liver failure, kidney failure and death. One of the most popular drugs (statins) is popular because we think that it's going to prevent a heart attack. Ever since statins were introduced in 1987, heart disease and heart attacks have steadily increased over the past 28 years. In fact, statins can CAUSE a heart attack, along with causing Type 2 diabetes and cancer!

Sidebar: Most people believe that high cholesterol causes heart disease and heart attacks so they think that by taking a statin drug that lowers their cholesterol, it will prevent heart disease and a heart attack. Nothing could be further from the truth. High cholesterol is a byproduct as heart disease develops in your body -- it's not the root cause of heart disease. For whatever reason, most people (except maybe engineers :-)) just don't seem to get this -- as more than 70 million people in the U.S. take statins.

Metformin is the top drug prescribed to Type 2 diabetics, yet it does absolutely NOTHING to stop the progression of the disease. Sure, it lowers your blood sugar, but the disease continues to rot out the insides of your body!

Keep this in mind: 100% of Type 2 diabetics that take metformin or some similar pill end up on insulin if they live long enough. That's right -- not 90%, not 95% -- ONE HUNDRED PERCENT!

Statins, ACE inhibitors, diuretics and beta blockers are the top drugs prescribed to people with heart disease, but these drugs do absolutely nothing to stop the progression of the disease, which eventually leads to heart failure, a heart attack or a stroke.

And, no drugs are more toxic than cancer drugs. Chemotherapy and radiation cause more damage and kill more people than the actual cancer! These drugs cause major damage to your immune system and other organs. Chemotherapy is so toxic that the doctors and nurses wear gloves!! What!?!

Chemotherapy has proven to only work for a few cancers, but, it's prescribed for ALL cancers, despite the devastation it causes and it's poor track record. Lies and fear tactics are used to pressure patients into taking the poison; and, so most people take the poison because they are not made aware that there are other safer alternatives! (We will discuss this in more detail in a future post if we can get past the legal issues).

Drugs Kill: They Cause Harm, Disease & Death

Now, don't get me wrong -- drugs are not all bad and doctors are not bad people. So, why don't doctors tell people about safer non-drug options? Because, if they did, they would be reprimanded by the American Medical Association (AMA) and possibly lose their medical license.

So, it's not their responsibility to tell us about non-drug alternatives for our diseases -- it's our responsibility.

Next to talking about nutrition, the most frequent topic that we write and talk about is the dangers of prescription drugs. Why? Because most of us are willing to take the easy way out and just pop up a pill instead of change our diet!

But, no matter how many times we write and talk about the dangers of drugs, the fact of the matter is that 82% of Americans take a prescription drug, including chemotherapy and radiation. And, 29% take 5 or more pills with the average person taking anywhere from 2 to 8 pills a day. I've met people who take as many as 18 pills a day! And, they ask me: "Why am I still sick?"  Really?

One more thing: Do you know what is the Number 1 cause of bankruptcy in this country? It's medical debt. And, medical debt is also the Number 1 reason why families lose their homes.

Medical Bills & Drugs Cause Harm

And, one last thing (I promise :-)): When we rely on drugs, we are sending a message to our children that drugs are okay; and, guess what? They end up following in our foot steps!

So, here we are: Dying from disease and drugs; and, going broke at the same time; and sending our children down the same path. And, yet we do nothing. We say nothing. We keep our mouths shut and think: "It's not going to happen to me."
Well, even if that's true, is that a good reason to stay quiet while millions of others suffer?

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men and women do nothing." Edmund Burke.

The Top-Selling Prescription Drugs
The top-selling drugs are statins, primarily because our doctors and Big Pharma has done an excellent marketng job in convincing us that we need to take statins for our high cholesterol.

The next top-selling drugs are diabetic drugs. That shouldn't surprise anyone, since diabetics more so than any other group, choose to pop up a pill because it's easier than changing one's diet.

None of the cancer drugs made the top 10 list (below) despite the fact that chemotherapy, radiation, etc. generate $41 billion of revenue. 

Top-Selling Prescription Drugs

The 7 Most Dangerous and Heavily Promoted Prescription Drugs
Prescription drugs are the 4th leading cause of death around the world. The pharmaceutical industry is committing a silent holocaust around the globe. 

People are sick because they aren’t getting proper nutrition. Then they are covering up their sickness with a doctor-prescribed pill. But this is causing some serious side effects, leading their doctors to prescribe more pills to conceal those side effects.

The following is a list of the 7 most dangerous and heavily promoted prescription drugs.
1. Prednisone or Cortisone
2. Methotrexate ­& Other Chemotherapeutic Agents
3. Coumadin or Warfarin
4. Cholesterol Lowering Drugs
5. Prozac (anti-depressants)
6. Ritalin, Cylert, Dexadrine, Adderal
7. Beta Blockers and Calcium Channel Blockers

The bottom line is that taking a long term medication which alters any of your natural body functions is obviously dangerous. This includes all the drugs used for heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes -- 4 of the top 10 killer diseases. 

While prescription pills are beneficial in some cases, we believe that superior nutrition is the most powerful type of medicine. Our body is truly a remarkable machine naturally built for optimal function, but this is only when we provide our body with all of the essential nutrients that it needs.

When we are not supplying our bodies with proper nutrition, disease eventually manifests in our bodies. This is usually when most people will resort to prescription drugs. These drugs only cover up the problem, but are never actually dealing with the root cause.

What To Do
So, what are we to do? Education, people, education ... I can't stress this enough ... Most of you have children, so I'm sure that you told them the importance of education. Well, just because you're out of school, doesn't mean that we stop educating yourselves! One of the primary reasons for going to school was to learn that education is forever. It's not just for kids. :-)

Besides changing what we eat (to stop poisoning our bodies), the easiest thing that you can do right now is what we've asked you to do in the past. Forward this information and begin talking about this on your own Facebook pages and timelines. We can't do this alone. But, together we can affect change. Who knows, you might reach a person who doesn't know about the dangers of prescription drugs.

Of course, Big Pharma is banking on you doing absolutely nothing. And, as long as we do nothing, we will all suffer -- one way or the other we will pay for our apathy.

Food for Thought: Diseases like diabetes and cancer are rotting out your insides. So, do you truly believe that a drug is going to stop the rot? A body that is full of disease is lacking NUTRIENTS, not DRUGS. And, as long as we rely on drugs, the doctors and Big Pharma will continue to give us the drugs while lining their pocketbooks with billions of dollars.

Question: So, what are you going to do this time? Ignore this (again) and do nothing or stand up for yourself, your family and your friends?

Website References
Prescription Drugs Now Kill More People than Illegal Drugs
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/10/26/prescription-drugs-number-one-cause-preventable-death-in-us.aspx

Study shows 70 percent of Americans take prescription drugs - CBS News
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/study-shows-70-percent-of-americans-take-prescription-drugs/

Addiction Inbox: U.S. Leads World in Prescription Drug Use
http://addiction-dirkh.blogspot.com/2010/07/us-leads-world-in-prescription-drug-use.html

Doctors Are The Third Leading Cause of Death in the US
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2000/07/30/doctors-death-part-one.aspx
https://chriskresser.com/medical-care-is-the-3rd-leading-cause-of-death-in-the-us/
https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22129532-000-counting-the-hidden-victims-of-medicine/
http://draxe.com/conventional-medicine-is-the-leading-cause-of-death/ 
http://www.naturalnews.com/034569_iatrogenesis_accidental_death_medicine.html
http://io9.com/5919434/prescription-painkillers-now-the-leading-cause-of-accidental-deaths

Why Are Medical Mistakes Our Third Leading Cause of Death?
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/allen-frances/why-are-medical-mistakes-_b_5888408.html

Hospital Errors are the Third Leading Cause of Death in U.S.
http://www.hospitalsafetyscore.org/newsroom/display/hospitalerrors-thirdleading-causeofdeathinus-improvementstooslow

Medication Safety Basics & Statistics from the CDC
http://www.cdc.gov/MedicationSafety/basics.html

Prescription Drug Dangers - Ten Legal Drugs More Dangerous Than Ecstasy
http://articles.drugabuse.net/drug_harm/

The Most Dangerous & Heavily Promoted Prescription Drugs & Their Potential Natural Alternatives
http://www.collective-evolution.com/2014/10/14/the-most-dangerous-heavily-promoted-prescription-drugs-possible-natural-alternatives/

Prescription Drugs Now Kill More People than Illegal Drugs
http://healthimpactnews.com/2011/prescription-drugs-now-kill-more-people-than-illegal-drugs/

Prescription Drug Side Effects
http://www.drugwatch.com/side-effects/

 5 Common Prescription Drugs That May Cause Memory Loss
http://www.medicaldaily.com/5-common-prescription-drugs-may-cause-memory-loss-examples-and-alternatives-251443


The 10 most prescribed drugs in America
https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2014/05/16/the-10-most-prescribed-drugs-in-america

The drugs that kill Americans: A third of the 80,000 deaths a year are unintentional from medicines
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2314091/The-drugs-kill-Americans-How-80-000-deaths-year-unintentional-medicines.html

OTC Drug Dangers You Should Know About
http://www.everydayhealth.com/news/over-the-counter-drug-dangers-should-know-about/


Pills That Kill: Legal Drugs Snuff Out Americans
http://www.hightimes.com/read/pills-kill-legal-drugs-snuff-out-americans
 
Preventing Infections in Cancer Patients
http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/preventinfections/

Chemotherapy Success Rates
http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/04/11/study-shows-chemotherapy-does-not-work-97-of-the-time/

Don't Be Scared Into Chemotherapy
http://just-say-no-to-chemo.blogspot.com/2010/01/dont-be-scared-into-chemotherapy.html

The Truth About Chemo
http://thetruthaboutcancer.com/the-truth-about-chemo/

Top 10 best-selling cancer drugs of 2013
http://www.fiercepharma.com/special-reports/top-10-best-selling-cancer-drugs-2013

Chemo Kills: It Causes Harm, Disease & Death

Chemotherapy Only Works for a Few Cancers
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7722626.stm

According to Gordon Zubrod, M.D., (a researcher for the US National Cancer Institute), chemotherapy is considered to be highly effective ONLY with the following cancers, primarily associated with certain lymphomas, leukemias, sarcomas and testicular:
+ Burkitt’s lymphoma
+ Choriocarcinoma
+ Acute lymphocytic leukemia
+ Hodgkin’s disease
+ Lymphosarcoma
+ Embryonal testicular cancer
+ Wilms’ Tumor
+ Ewing’s sarcoma
+ Rhabdomyosarcoma
+ Retinoblastoma

Unfortunately, these cancers affect very few people. If your cancer is not on the list, and yet, you are being administered chemotherapy, you’re being killed for profit.

If you have great faith in them, the chemo‘s plain purpose is to kill the cancer cells, without them ever mentioning that it also kills healthy cells.

Another big fallacy on why you’re being administered chemo is to clean up and prevent the spread of any remaining cancer cells (metastasis), if any left, after surgery. It’s as if the chemo will kill all those cancer cells.

If you’re not on Dr. Zubrod’s cancer list above, why are you being administered chemo that will just ravage your body and make you very poor before you die?

Chemo and radiation also kill healthy cells and the highest survival rate for chemo is 22% only (2009 Survival Rates, US National Cancer Institute). In fact, studies now show that chemo damages and kills more healthy cells than cancer cells!
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Monday, August 10, 2015

Immune System Operation

The immune system is made up of a team of different types of cells that, while each having their own specific function, work together to protect the body from foreign invaders:

B-cells produce antibodies; T-cells conduct surveillance for potentially dangerous molecules and kills dangerous cells such as disease-causing bacteria; and macrophages are the scavenger cells of your body acting like garbage trucks, cleaning up residue and removing potentially dangerous substances.

A surveillance team of cells determines whether newly introduced pathogens or molecules pose a threat to your system. A reaction occurs when your body identifies molecules as potentially harmful and toxic -- these molecules are called antigens.

The surveillance cells bind to the antigens activating the immune cells to release cytokines and other chemicals which then signals the scavenger macrophages to come to the site and destroy them.

When the surveillance immune cells bind to an antigen and send out chemical messengers, they also communicate to the B-cells, which are instructed to make antibodies to the antigen.

Immune Cell Binds Antigen

Antibodies are long, branched molecules that have places for recognition and binding (attachment) of the antigen on one side, and a site on the other end that can call into action other immune responses.

An antibody will only bind one specific antigen and nothing else. When the antibody binds, or sticks, to the dangerous molecule it is acts like a red flag identifying the molecule as something potentially damaging that should be removed.

Your macrophage cells are often called the 'scavenger' cells of the immune system and are specifically designed to remove damaging molecules from the body. After the antibody binds to a dangerous molecule the macrophages consume the molecule, taking it out of circulation and destroying it.

Macrophage Eats and Destroys Antigen



Note 1: The “B” Cell becomes a Memory “B” Cell to recall the invader if it should return.

Note 2: The macrophage presents small pieces of the antigen to notify other immune cells such as T Cells.

The following diagram is a high-level overview depiction of how the immune system and its cell function to protect you and fight internal and external pathogens and other harmful molecules.


Immune System Operation

Immune Cells Activations
Macrophages Activate:
T Cells
Neutrophils
Dendritic Cells

T Cells Activate:
B CellsNK Cells
Neutrophils
Eosinophils
Mast Cells
Plasma Cells

Macrophages Activated by:
Invaders
Proteins, e.g.:Colostrum peptides
GcMAFVDR/RXR
Polysacharrides, e.g.Beta glucan

Macrophages Deactivated by:
Invaders, Viruses, Cancer Cells
Proteins
Excess Sugar

MicroRNAs Control Macrophage Formation and Activation: The Inflammatory Link between Obesity and Cardiovascular Diseases
A microRNA (abbreviated miRNA) is a small non-coding RNA molecule (containing about 22 nucleotides) found in plants, animals, and some viruses, which functions in RNA silencing and post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression.

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) typically inhibit the translation and stability of messenger RNAs (mRNAs), controlling genes involved in cellular processes such as inflammation, cell-cycle regulation, stress response, differentiation, apoptosis, and migration.

Thus, miRNAs have been implicated in the regulation of virtually all signaling circuits within a cell, and their dysregulation has been shown to play an essential role in the development and progression of cancer.

The emergence of microRNAs has been one of the defining developments in cancer biology over the past decade, and the explosion of knowledge in this area has brought forward new diagnostic and therapeutic opportunities. The importance of microRNAs in cancer has been underlined by the identification of alterations in microRNA target binding sites and the microRNA processing machinery in tumor cells. Clinical trials utilizing microRNA profiling for patient prognosis and clinical response are now underway, and the first microRNA mimic entered the clinic for cancer therapy in 2013.

Micro-RNA Molecules from Your Food May Control Up to 30 Percent of Your Genes    Groundbreaking new research shows that microscopic RNA in the plants you consume enters your body and is actually capable of affecting the expression of up to 30% of your genes!

    Never before could it have been imagined that your "genes" could be so profoundly affected by things you eat.

    There is also the field of lectinology, which has opened our eyes to how plants – particularly grains and legumes – have a set of defenses, not unlike "invisible thorns," which can cause direct, non-immune mediated harm to a wide range of tissues and organs within your body.

    Medical science is beginning to awaken to how profoundly food is intertwined with health and disease, and how nutrients affect genes, and how our genes respond to nutrients. This, in fact, is the field of study known as Nutrigenomics – something you will be hearing far more about as the science begins to gain wider appreciation. It is a burgeoning new field, in fact launched soon after the completion of a working draft of the Human Genome project (2003), which failed to provide the long sought after "holy grail" of modern biology.

In a nutshell, the project failed to identify one gene for every one protein in the human body, forcing researchers to look to epigenetic factors --  namely, "factors beyond the control of the gene" – to explain how the body is formed, and how it works.  What is the most important factor beyond the control of the gene? Diet.

Eating the Wrong Plants Can Mess With Your DNA Expression   
Chances are you've never heard of micro RNA (miRNA) … but that doesn't mean it hasn't already been impacting your health …  RNA is one of three major macromolecules, like DNA. Micro RNA are basically small pieces of RNA that interact with your genes, essentially stopping certain genes from being expressed.

    MiRNA exists in human body fluid naturally; for instance, researchers have detected high expression levels of immune-related miRNAs in breast milk, particularly during the first 6 months of lactation. It's thought that this genetic material is transferred from mother to baby to help modulate the development of the infant's immune system. Cow's milk also contains miRNA, which is currently being explored as a possible new standard for the quality control of raw milk.

    However, micro RNA also exists in plants, and for the first time research has shown that eating the wrong plants may transfer this plant miRNA  to humans -- with potentially devastating implications.
The study, published in the September 2011 edition of the journal Cell Research, determined that microRNA from cooked plant foods like rice, wheat and potatoes can in fact collect in your blood and tissue, leading to a number of potential health problems.

    The study further revealed that microRNA remains completely stable after not only cooking, but through the digestion process as well. Most importantly, the researchers found a significant quantity of microRNA in the human body.

    So whenever you eat rice and certain other plant foods, including potatoes and wheat, you are ingesting genetic material that may turn certain genes "off." To date, microRNA has been implicated in a number of diseases ranging from cancer and diabetes to Alzheimer's disease.

"Gene Regulators" in Your Rice, Wheat and Potatoes   
MicroRNA has been widely shown to alter many critical biological processes, including apoptosis – the process of programmed cell death and DNA fragmentation. As a result, the dysregulation of microRNAs has been linked to cancer and various other diseases.

However microRNA are also responsible for regulating your genes on a very large scale. As mentioned, it has been estimated that miRNAs account for less than 1% of genes in mammals, but that up to 30% of genes are regulated by them.

Amazingly, microRNAs are known to regulate the flow of genetic information by controlling the translation or stability of something known as messenger RNAs, which is a molecule of RNA that carries valuable genetic coding information within your body.

    What's more, this plant miRNA has been shown to interfere with human microRNA by mimicking it and binding to the receptors. In the study, researchers examined the two highest levels of these microRNAs in human participants, and found that it is shockingly prevalent among many dietary plant staples.

    As results of the study show, three microRNAs were detected in rice and other foods including Chinese cabbage, wheat, and potato. Of course these are all highly common food staples for many families not only in the United States, but around the world. This means that you may be unknowingly consuming plant microRNAs that could be increasing your risk of cancer and other disease. Even more concerning is the fact that the study authors observed this effect in both healthy men and women, reporting:

        "Upon investigation of the global miRNA expression profile in human serum, we found that exogenous plant miRNAs were consistently present in the serum of healthy… men and women."
What you eat, therefore, is who you are in the most literal sense possible.This fact, while often overlooked, is fundamental in understanding how to optimize your health. If you eat the right foods, you thrive; eat the wrong foods, and you suffer.

It can take a lifetime to figure out how to perfect a diet, particularly one suitable for you as an individual. The good news is that modern research is beginning to make headway in figuring out what is good for virtually all humans, at least in most cases. Certain foods appear to be problematic for many … and most grains continue to be at the top of this list.

The Good News: You Can Eat to Optimize Your Genetic Expression   
Given the knowledge that the food you consume ultimately becomes the life source of your entire body, it is important that you eat well not only to utilize vital nutrients but also to optimize your genetic expression.         

Key foods to eat include vegetables, fruits, plant oils, fish, nuts and seeds; while avoiding refined sugar, flour, processed foods and most animal meats. Refer to the post about the Top 10 Foods for the Immune System.

But, remember: your diet is but one way to influence your genetic expression. Your emotions, pharmaceutical drugs, and exposure to pollutants play a role in how your genes are expressed.

Immune System

Most of us don't really think about our immune systems, except just before winter sets in and a lot of health practitioners in the news, on the radio, in social media and on television are talking about the upcoming flu season and what we should do, e.g. get a flu shot or not.

In the meantime, we all run out and pick up a bunch of herbs, vitamins, teas and other concoctions, hoping to avoid catching a cold or the flu this year.  

The immune system is one of the 11 major systems in the human body. It protects us from invading microbes and pathogens such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, parasites, etc. In addition, the immune system plays another major role that most people (including doctors) don't really know that much about -- have any idea what it is?

Whether you're diabetic or not, it is important that you keep your immune system strong to protect you against most diseases and illness, including the flu and the common cold.  And, although the immune system is important regardless of your specific health problem, it plays an even bigger role in protecting you by helping to heal damaged cells and tissues.

As a result, your immune system plays a major role in helping to protect you from cancer and helping to repair and heal your body if you happen to have cancer. This isespecially since the conventional medical treatment for cancer patients is to poison them with chemotherapy and/or radiation, which severely weakens the immune system and the patient.

Your immune system protects your body against disease by identifying and killing pathogens and tumor cells. It detects a wide variety of agents, from viruses to parasitic worms, and needs to distinguish them from your own healthy cells and tissues in order to function properly. Detection is complicated as pathogens can evolve rapidly, and adapt to avoid the immune system and allow the pathogens to successfully infect our bodies.

When you catch a cold or the flu; or, when you develop a disease such as diabetes or cancer, the primary reason is due to inflammation and a weakened immune system that is unable to defend your body against the invading pathogens, viruses, fungi, and parasites. In addition, your (weakened) immune system is unable to protect you from other health issues such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, chronic fatigue and weight gain.

FYI: Believe it or not, a lot of unwanted weight gain is triggered by chronic inflammation -- not excess calories!

Consequently, two of the most critical steps in being able to successfully prevent or  defeat any illness or disease are to reduce the inflammation and strengthen the immune system. But, first, let's take a look at how the immune system works.

Immune System: 3 Lines of Defense
The immune system is a collection of special cells, tissues and molecules that protects the body from numerous pathogenic microbes and toxins, utilizing 3 lines of defense:

1. Physical and Chemical Barriers (Innate Immunity)

2. Nonspecific Resistance (Innate Immunity)

3. Specific Resistance (Acquired or Adaptive Immunity)

1st Line of Defense: Physical and Chemical Barriers
Physical Barriers include: the skin; mucous membranes; hair within the nose; cilia which lines the upper respiratory tract; urine which flushes microbes out of the urethra; defecation and vomiting which expel microorganisms.

Chemical Barriers include: lysozyme, an enzyme produced in tears, perspiration, and saliva can break down cell walls and thus acts as an antibiotic (kills bacteria); stomach gastric juice which destroys bacteria and most toxins; sebum (unsaturated fatty acids) provides a protective film on the skin and inhibits growth.

2nd Line of Defense: Nonspecific Resistance (Innate Immunity)
The second line of defense is nonspecific resistance that destroys invaders in a generalized way without targeting specific individuals. White blood cells (called phagocytes) ingest and destroy all microbes that pass into body tissues.

In addition, there is an inflammatory response in the localized tissue where the pathogen invaded the body or where the tissue was damaged due to a cut or wound. Inflammation brings more white blood cells to the site where the microbes have invaded. The inflammatory response produces swelling, redness, heat, pain and fever. Fever inhibits bacterial growth and increases the rate of tissue repair during an infection.

3rd Line of Defense: Specific Resistance (Acquired Immunity)
The third line of defense is specific resistance. This system relies on antibodies, which are produced by specific immune cells (called B cells) in response to the antigens on the surface of the invading pathogens.

Immune System: 3 Lines of Defense

When an antigen is detected by a macrophage, this causes the T cells to become activated. The activation of T cells by a specific antigen is called cell-mediated immunity. The body contains millions of different T cells, each able to respond to one specific antigen.

The T cells secrete interleukin 2, which causes the proliferation of certain cytotoxic T cells and B cells. T cells stimulate B cells to divide, forming plasma cells that are able to produce antibodies and memory B cells.

If the same antigen enters the body later, the memory B cells divide to make more plasma cells and memory cells that can protect against future attacks by the same antigen.

When the T cells activate (stimulate) the B cells to divide into plasma cells, this is called antibody-mediated immunity.

Antibodies (also called immunoglobulins) are Y-shaped proteins that circulate through the blood stream and bind to specific antigens, thereby attacking microbes. The antibodies are transported through the blood and the lymph to the pathogen invasion site.

The body contains millions of different B cells, each able to respond to one specific antigen.

Antibodies bind to an antigen, preventing its normal function or making it easier for phagocytic cells to ingest them; or, they activate a complement protein that kills the pathogen or signals other white blood cells; or they binds to the surface of macrophages to further facilitate phagocytosis.

Immune System Components
The major components of the immune system include the following:

Thymus: is located between your breast bone and your heart and is responsible for producing thymosin, which helps to activate T cells.  As we get older, this organ shrinks over 80% and produces less  thymosin and may be one of the reasons why our immune system weakens and we become more susceptible to certain diseases.

Spleen: filters the blood looking for foreign cells (the spleen is also looking for old red blood cells in need of replacement). A person missing their spleen gets sick much more often than someone with a spleen.

Lymph system: includes the tissues and organs, including the bone marrow, spleen, thymus, and lymph nodes, that produce and store cells that fight infection and disease. The channels that carry lymph are also part of this system.

Lymph is a clear-like liquid that bathes the cells with water and nutrients. Lymph is blood plasma -- the liquid that makes up blood minus the red and white cells. Think about it -- each cell does not have its own private blood vessel feeding it, yet it has to get food, water, and oxygen to survive. Blood transfers these materials to the lymph through the capillary walls, and lymph carries it to the cells.

The cells also produce proteins and waste products and the lymph absorbs these products and carries them away. Any random bacteria that enter the body also find their way into this inter-cell fluid. One job of the lymph system is to drain and filter these fluids to detect and remove the bacteria. Small lymph vessels collect the liquid and move it toward larger vessels so that the fluid finally arrives at the lymph nodes for processing.

Bone marrow: produces new blood cells, both red and white including B cells. In the case of red blood cells the cells are fully formed in the marrow and then enter the bloodstream. In the case of some white blood cells, the cells mature elsewhere. The marrow produces all blood cells from stem cells. They are called "stem cells" because they can branch off and become many different types of cells - they are precursors to different cell types. Stem cells change into actual, specific types of white blood cells.

White blood cells: also called leukocytes, are probably the most important part of your immune system. These cells work together to destroy bacteria and viruses. The different types of white blood cells include: Neutrophils, Eosinophils, Basophils, Monocytes, Lymphocytes, B cells, T cells, Helper T cells, Suppressor T cells, Killer T cells, Granulocytes, Plasma cells, Phagocytes, Dendritic cells, Natural Killer cells, and Macrophages.

Antibodies: (also referred to as immunoglobulins) are produced by white blood B cells. They are Y-shaped proteins that each respond to a specific antigen (bacteria, virus or toxin). Antibodies come in five classes: Immunoglobulin A (IgE), Immunoglobulin D (IgE), Immunoglobulin E (IgE), Immunoglobulin G (IgG), and Immunoglobulin M (IBM).

Antigen: The surface of every cell is covered with molecules that give it a unique set of characteristics. These molecules are called antigens. Antigens are generally fragments of protein or carbohydrate molecules. There are millions of different antigens and each one has a unique shape that can be recognized by white blood cells. The white blood cells then produce antibodies to match the shape of the antigens.

Some antigens (e.g. associated with bacteria, viruses, pollen, etc.) stimulate an immune response by a white blood (B) cell to generate antibodies specific to that antigen that matches the shape of the antigen.

Now the antibody can bind to that specific antigen to make it easier for other white blood cells to engulf or attack the bacteria or virus who brings the antigen with them.

The antigens on the surface of bacteria, viruses and other pathogenic cells are different from those on the surface of your own cells. This enables your immune system to distinguish pathogens from cells that are part of your body. Antigens are also found in foods like peanuts and on the surface of foreign materials like pollen, pet hairs and house dust where they can be responsible for triggering an allergy, hay-fever or asthma attacks.

Note: An antigen can be any substance (not just bacteria or viruses) that causes your immune system to produce antibodies against it, e.g. peanuts, pollen.

Lymphokines: are several hormones generated by components of the immune system. It is also known that certain hormones in the body suppress the immune system. Steroids and corticosteroids (components of adrenaline) suppress the immune system.

Tymosin (thought to be produced by the thymus) is a hormone that encourages lymphocyte production.

Interleukins are another type of hormone generated by white blood cells. For example, Interleukin-1 is produced by macrophages after they eat a foreign cell. IL-1 has an interesting side-effect - when it reaches the hypothalamus it produces fever and fatigue. The raised temperature of a fever is known to kill some bacteria.

Lymphokines are a subset of cytokines that are produced by lymphocytes. They are protein mediators typically produced by T cells to direct the immune system response by signaling between its cells.

Lymphokines have many roles, including the attraction of other immune cells, including macrophages and other lymphocytes, to an infected site and their subsequent activation to prepare them to mount an immune response. Circulating lymphocytes can detect a very small concentration of lymphokine and then move up the concentration gradient towards where the immune response is required. Lymphokines aid B cells to produce antibodies.

Important lymphokines secreted by the T helper cell include: interleukin 2, 3, 4, 5, 6; granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor; and interferon-gamma.

Cytokines: are small peptides that act as signaling systems within the body. Because they facilitate communication between the innate and adaptive immune systems, cytokines are a key factor in fighting infection and maintaining homeostasis.

Cytokines include chemokines, interferons, interleukins, lymphokines, tumor necrosis factor. Cytokines are produced by a broad range of cells, including immune cells like macrophages, B lymphocytes, T lymphocytes and mast cells, as well as endothelial cells, fibroblasts, and various stromal cells.

Proinflammatory cytokines such as interleukin 1 (IL-1) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) are released defensively in response to infection and trauma. Anti-inflammatory cytokines such as transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) and IL-10 oppose the action of the proinflammatory cytokines and promote healing.

Some cytokines are chemical switches that turn certain immune cell types on and off. One cytokine, interleukin 2 (IL-2), triggers the immune system to produce T cells. IL-2’s immunity-boosting properties have traditionally made it a promising treatment for several illnesses.

Elevated plasma levels of proinflammatory cytokines are biomarkers of inflammation and/or disease. An imbalance between the activity of proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines is believed to affect disease onset, course, and duration.

Anti-inflammatory cytokines is a general term for those immunoregulatory cytokines that counteract various aspects of inflammation, for example cell activation or the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, and thus contribute to the control of the magnitude of the inflammatory responses. These mediators act mainly by the inhibition of the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

The major anti-inflammatory cytokines are IL4, IL10, and IL13, and IL35. Other anti-inflammatory mediators include IL16, IFN-alpha, TGF-beta, IL1ra, G-CSF, as well as soluble receptors for TNF or IL6.

Tonsils: are lymphoepithelial tissues facing into the aerodigestive tract. These tissues are the immune system's first line of defense against ingested or inhaled foreign pathogens. The fundamental immunological roles of tonsils aren't yet understood.

Lymph nodes are distributed widely throughout areas of the body, including the armpit and stomach, and linked by lymphatic vessels. Lymph nodes are garrisons of B, T and other immune cells. Lymph nodes act as filters or traps for foreign particles and are important in the proper functioning of the immune system. They are packed tightly with the white blood cells, called lymphocytes and macrophages.

Skin: is one of the most important parts of the body because it interfaces with the environment, and is the first line of defense from external factors, acting as an anatomical barrier from pathogens and damage between the internal and external environment in bodily defense. Langerhans cells in the skin are part of the adaptive immune system.

Liver: has a wide range of functions, including immunological effects—the reticuloendothelial system of the liver contains many immunologically active cells, acting as a "sieve" for antigens carried to it via the portal system.

Bowel: There is lymphatic tissue in the bowel and in other mucous membranes in the body. The bowel plays a central role in defending the body against pathogens: More than half of all cells that produce antibodies are found in the bowel wall, especially in the last part of the small bowel and in the appendix. These cells recognize pathogens and other non-self substances, and mark and destroy them.

They also store information on these non-self substances to be able to react faster the next time. The large bowel also contains bacteria that belong to the body, called gut flora. These good bacteria in the large bowel make it difficult for other pathogens to settle and to enter the body.

Innate and Adaptive Immunity
The protection provided by the immune system is divided into two types of reactions: reactions of innate immunity and reactions of adaptive or acquired immunity.

Immunity: Innate & Adaptive

The innate immune system consists of cells and proteins that are always present and ready to mobilize and fight microbes at the site of infection. The main components of the innate immune system are 1) physical epithelial barriers; 2) phagocytic leukocytes (neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils); 3) monocytes (which develop into macrophages); 4) dendritic cells; 5) a special type of lymphocyte called natural killer (NK) cells; and, 6) circulating plasma proteins. Other participants in innate immunity include the complement system and cytokines such as interleukin 2 (IL-2).

Innate immune cells express genetically encoded receptors, called Toll-like receptors (TLRs), which recognize general danger- or pathogen-associated patterns. Collectively, these receptors can broadly recognize viruses, bacteria, fungi, and even non-infectious problems. However, they cannot distinguish between specific strains of bacteria or viruses.

There are numerous types of innate immune cells with specialized functions. They include neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils, mast cells, monocytes, dendritic cells, and macrophages.

Their main feature is the ability to respond quickly and broadly when a problem arises, typically leading to inflammation. Innate immune cells also are important for activating adaptive immunity. Innate cells are critical for host defense, and disorders in innate cell function may cause chronic susceptibility to infection.

The adaptive (or acquired) immune system is called into action against pathogens that are able to evade or overcome innate immune defenses. Components of the adaptive immune system are normally silent; however, when activated, these components “adapt” to the presence of infectious agents by activating, proliferating, and creating potent mechanisms for neutralizing or eliminating the microbes. There are two types of adaptive immune responses: 1) humoral immunity, mediated by antibodies produced by B lymphocytes; and, 2) cell-mediated immunity, mediated by T lymphocytes.

The adaptive immune response is more complex than the innate. The antigen first must be processed and recognized. Once an antigen has been recognized, the adaptive immune system creates an army of immune cells specifically designed to attack that antigen. Adaptive immunity also includes a "memory" that makes future responses against a specific antigen more efficient.

Adaptive immune cells are more specialized, with each adaptive B or T cell bearing unique receptors, B-cell receptors (BCRs) and T-cell receptors (TCRs), that recognize specific signals rather than general patterns.

Each receptor recognizes an antigen, which is simply any molecule that may bind to a BCR or TCR. Antigens are derived from a variety of sources including pathogens, host cells, and allergens. Antigens are typically processed by innate immune cells and presented to adaptive cells in the lymph nodes.

If a B or T cell has a receptor that recognizes an antigen from a pathogen and also receives cues from innate cells that something is wrong, the B or T cell will activate, divide, and disperse to address the problem. B cells make antibodies, which neutralize pathogens, rendering them harmless. T cells carry out multiple functions, including killing infected cells and activating or recruiting other immune cells.

Certain T cells (Helper T) help activate B cells to secrete antibodies and macrophages to destroy ingested microbes. They also help activate other T cells called cytotoxic T cells to kill infected target cells. As dramatically demonstrated in AIDS patients, without Helper T cells we cannot defend ourselves even against many microbes that are normally harmless.

However, Helper T cells themselves can only function when activated to become effector cells. They are activated on the surface of antigen-presenting cells (APC), which mature during the innate immune responses triggered by an infection.

The innate responses also dictate what kind of effector cell a Helper T cell will develop into and thereby determine the nature of the adaptive immune response elicited.

The adaptive immune response has a system of checks and balances to prevent unnecessary activation that could cause damage to the host. If a B or T cell is auto-reactive, meaning its receptor recognizes antigens from the body's own cells, the cell will be deleted. Also, if a B or T cell does not receive signals from innate cells, it will not be optimally activated.

Immune memory is a feature of the adaptive immune response. After B or T cells are activated, they expand rapidly. As the problem resolves, cells stop dividing and are retained in the body as memory cells. The next time this same pathogen enters the body, a memory cell is already poised to react and can clear away the pathogen before it establishes itself.

A further aspect of the adaptive immune system worth mentioning is its role in monitoring body cells to check that they aren't infected by viruses or bacteria, for instance, or in order to make sure that they haven't become cancerous. Cancer occurs when certain body cells 'go wrong' and start dividing in an uncontrolled way.

The Major Cells of the Immune System
The key tissues and organs involved with the immune system include the lymph nodes, spleen, tonsils, bone marrow, thymus, and lymphatic tissue. The key immune cells are white blood cells (or leukocytes). The (3) major categories of white blood cells are: granulocytes, lymphocytes and monocytes.

Immune Cells

Granulocytes are  characterized by the presence of granules in their cytoplasm which contain digestive enzymes that kill various types of bacteria and parasites. Granulocytes are also called polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN, PML, or PMNL) because of the varying shapes of the nucleus, which is usually lobed into three segments. The principal types of granulocytes are neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils, and mast cells.

Lymphocytes come in three major types: B-lymphocytes (or B cells), T-lymphocytes(or T cells) and natural killer (NK) cells.

Lymphocytes start out in the bone marrow and either stay there and mature into B cells, or they leave for the thymus gland, where they mature into T cells.

B cells produce antibodies in the humoral immune response and are like the body's military intelligence system, seeking out their targets and sending defenses to lock onto them. With the help of T cells, B cells make special Y-shaped protein antibodies, which stick to antigens on the surface of bacteria, stopping them in their tracks, creating clumps that alert your body to the presence of intruders.

Plasma cells, also called plasma B cells, secrete large volumes of antibodies.

Memory B cells are important in generating an accelerated and more robust antibody-mediated immune response in the case of re-infection (also known as a secondary immune response).

Regulatory B cells (Bregs) participates in immunomodulations and in suppression of immune responses. via production of anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin 10 (IL-10).

T cells recognize and kill virus-infected cells directly. Some help B cells to make antibodies, which circulate and bind to antigens. Others send chemical instructions (cytokines) to the rest of the immune system. Types of T cells include Helper T (Th), Memory T (Tm), Cytotoxic T (Tc), Suppressor T (Treg), and Effector T cells.

Helper T Cells (Th) help activate B cells to secrete antibodies and macrophages to destroy ingested microbes, but they also help activate cytotoxic T cells to kill infected target cells. Note: In AIDS patients, without helper T cells we cannot defend ourselves even against many microbes that are normally harmless.

Memory T Cells (Tm) are derived from normal T cells that have learned how to overcome an invader by ‘remembering’ the strategy used to defeat previous infections. At a second encounter with the invader, memory T cells can reproduce to mount a faster and stronger immune response than the first time the immune system responded to the invader.

Cytotoxic T Cells (Tc) are lymphocytes that kill invading pathogens including cancer cells, cells that are infected (particularly with viruses), or cells that are damaged in other ways. Tc cells kill their targets by programming them to undergo apoptosis. The elimination of infected cells without the destruction of healthy tissue requires the cytotoxic mechanisms of CD8 T cells to be both powerful and accurately targeted.

Suppressor T Cells (Treg) suppress the immune response after invading organisms are destroyed by releasing their own lymphokines to signal all other immune-system participants to cease their attack.

Effector T cells (also called Helper T (Th) cells), are the functional cells for executing immune functions. Balanced immune responses can only be achieved by proper regulation of the differentiation and function of Th cells.

Natural killer (NK) cells are cytotoxic cells that participate in the innate immune response and attack in packs by releasing substances that perforate the "skin" of their victims -- this is death by cell lysis.

Monocytes, which are the largest of all leukocytes, fight off bacteria, viruses and fungi. Originally formed in the bone marrow, they are released into the blood and tissues. When certain germs enter the body, they quickly rush to the site for attack within 8–12 hours.

Monocytes have several functions to help you ward off diseases and infections. To help you remember what they do, note that each function begins with the letter 'M': Munch, Mount and Mend.

Munch: Monocytes have the ability to change into another cell form called macrophages before facing the germs. In response to inflammation signals, monocytes move quickly to sites of infection in the tissues and divide/differentiate into macrophages and dendritic cells to elicit an immune response. They change into macrophages when they move from the bloodstream to the tissues.

They consume, or munch, on harmful bacteria, fungi and viruses. Then, enzymes in the monocyte kill and break down the germs into pieces.

Mount: Monocytes help other white blood cells identify the type of germs that have invaded the body. After consuming the germs, the monocytes take parts of those germs, called antigens, and mount them outside their body like flags. Other white blood cells see the antigens and make antibodies designed to kill those specific types of germs.

Mend: Monocytes help mend damaged tissue by stopping the inflammation process. They remove dead cells from the sites of infection, which repairs wounds. They have also shown to influence the formation of some organs, like the heart and brain, by helping the components that hold tissues together.

Macrophages are derived from monocytes, granulocyte stem cells, or the cell division of pre-existing macrophages. Macrophages do not have granules but have receptors to detect, capture and ingest pathogens. Macrophages are found throughout the body in almost all tissues and organs, just below the surface of the skin and mucous membranes — any place where a pathogen could get through the first line of defense. Macrophages cause inflammation through the production of interleukin-1, interleukin-6, and TNF-alpha. Macrophages are usually only found in tissue and are rarely seen in blood circulation.

They take up and destroy necrotic cell debris and foreign material including viruses, bacteria, and tattoo ink. In wound healing, macrophages take on the role of wound protector by fighting infection and overseeing the repair process. Macrophages also produce chemical messengers, called growth factors, which help repair the wound.

When inflammation occurs, monocytes undergo a series of changes to become macrophages and target cells that need eliminating.

Once engulfed, cellular enzymes inside the macrophage destroy the ingested particle. Some macrophages act as scavengers, removing dead cells while others engulf microbes.

Another function of macrophages is to alert the immune system to microbial invasion. After ingesting a microbe, a macrophage presents a protein on its cell surface called an antigen, which signals the presence of the antigen to a corresponding T helper cell.

Macrophages change into foam cells in the blood vessel walls (endothelium), where they try to fight atherosclerosis by engulfing excessive cholesterol engulf large amounts of fatty substances, usually cholesterol. Foam cells are created when the body sends macrophages to the site of a fatty deposit on the blood vessel walls. The macrophage wraps around the fatty material in an attempt to destroy it and becomes filled with lipids (fats). The lipids engulfed by the macrophage give it a "foamy" appearance.

Foam cells are often found in the fatty streaks and plaques inside the blood vessel walls. Foam cells do not give off any specific signs or symptoms, but they are part of the cause of atherosclerosis. Foam cell development can be slowed, however. Decreasing low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and increasing high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol will remove the lipids that the macrophages engulf to become foam cells.

In addition to the monocytes and macrophages, the other types of white blood cells include neutrophils, basophils, eosinophils, mast cells and dendritic cells.

Neutrophils defend against bacterial or fungal infection and other very small inflammatory processes. They are usually the first responders to microbial infection; their activity and death in large numbers forms pus.

Basophils are chiefly responsible for allergic reactions and antigen response by releasing the chemical histamine, which helps to trigger inflammation, and heparin, which prevents blood from clotting.

Eosinophils primarily deal with parasitic worm infections. They are also the predominant inflammatory cells in allergic reactions.

Mast cell is a type of granular basophil cell in connective tissue that releases heparin, histamine, and serotonin during inflammation and allergic reactions.

Dendritic cells (DCs), which can also develop from monocytes, are an important antigen-presenting cell (APC) whose main function is to process antigen material and present it on the cell surface to the T cells in order to activate the T cells. They act as messengers between the innate and the adaptive immune systems. Once activated, dendritic cells migrate to the lymph nodes where they interact with T cells and B cells to initiate and shape the adaptive immune response.

Note: Antigens are molecules from pathogens, host cells, and allergens that may be recognized by adaptive immune cells.

Antigen-presenting cells (APCs) like DCs are responsible for processing large molecules into "readable" fragments (antigens) recognized by adaptive B or T cells in order to activate them. However, antigens alone cannot activate T cells. They must be presented with the appropriate major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecule "tags" expressed on the APC. MHC provides a checkpoint and helps immune cells distinguish between self and non-self cells.

An APC can be any of various cells (as a macrophage or a B cell) that take up and process an antigen into a form that when displayed at the cell surface in combination with an MHC molecule is recognized by and serves to activate a specific helper T cell using their T-cell receptors (TCRs).


Note: For more details, refer to the DTD Training Program, the DTD Science or the DTD Autoimmune ebook.

 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Vitamin D Health Benefits

Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin, but, actually it is a hormone, which is activated by sunlight/UV rays. The sunlight, when it is absorbed by our skin, converts the cholesterol under our skin into the active form of Vitamin D.

Several forms (vitamers) of vitamin D exist: D1, D2, D3 and D4. The two major forms are vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D3 is the animal form; and vitamin D2 is the plant form.Vitamin D without a subscript refers to either D2 or D3 or both. These are known collectively as calciferol.

Chemically, the various forms of vitamin D are secosteroids, i.e., steroids in which one of the bonds in the steroid rings is broken. The structural difference between vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 is the side chain of D2 contains a double bond between carbons 22 and 23, and a methyl group on carbon 24.

Vitamin D2 and D3 are not biologically active -- they must be modified in the body to have any effect.

The active form of vitamin D is indeed a hormone and is known as 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1,25(OH)2D3] or calcitriol. Both vitamin D2 and D3 have been commercially synthesized and both forms seem to be effective at maintaining blood levels of vitamin D in the body.

How Vitamin D Is Activated by the Sun
You may be wondering how Vitamin D is activated. Here are the sequence of steps:

Step #1: We convert cholesterol to 7-dehydrocholesterol, which is a precursor of vitamin D3.

Step #2: When we are exposed to UVB radiation, 7-dehydrocholesterol in the skin is converted to vitamin D3.

Step #3: Vitamin D3 must then be hydroxylated in the liver and the kidneys to become active. At this point, it can exert its endocrine effect.

Vitamin D metabolism

Think you’re soaking up vitamin D through office/car windows? Wrong. Glass blocks virtually all UVB, preventing vitamin D from being made.

And sunscreen is similar. Applying sunscreen with an SPF of 15 will decrease the amount of vitamin D made in the body by about 99%.

Activated vitamin D has a serum half life of 2-3 weeks and its production in the skin is limited to 10,000-20,000 IU each day. Spending 20 minutes outside in the summer sun produces 100 times more vitamin D than government agencies say you need. And once serum levels reach 150 nmol/L, any excess is inactivated.

Vitamin D production via the sun can change throughout the year depending on where you live. If you live north of Atlanta, GA, you will make zero vitamin D from the sunlight between November and March. If you live below Atlanta, GA, you’ll be all right. It is possible to build some reserves of vitamin D, but these reserves won’t last longer than a few weeks.

Vitamin D in Food
Vitamin D is extremely rare in foods. It’s found in fish, cod liver oil, mushrooms, liver and eggs – but usually not in substantial amounts (except in cod liver oil).

Farmed varieties of fish contain very little vitamin D compared to the wild varieties. The only reason we even get vitamin D from foods like milk and cereal is because these foods are fortified with it — but, this vitamin D is synthetic.

Breast milk contains low amounts, with about 25 IU per liter.

Thus, getting enough vitamin D from whole foods is virtually impossible; it truly is the sunlight vitamin.

Fortification studies in adults show that consuming 100 – 1000 IU of vitamin D each day results in increased blood concentrations by 15 to 40 nmol/L. Other data with supplements indicate that for every 100 IU of vitamin D we ingest, we raise our blood levels by 2.5 nmol/L.

vitamin_d_foods

What should my blood levels be?
What really matters is our circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentration. It lets us know how much vitamin D has been produced in our body from sun, food and supplements. Its half-life is 15 days. 1,25 (OH)2D is not a good indicator of vitamin D status, as it has a short half life of only 15 hours and levels in the blood are regulated tightly by hormones and minerals. 1,25 (OH)2D only starts to decline when a severe deficiency of vitamin D is present.

The most advantageous serum concentrations of 25(OH)D seem to begin at 75 nmol/L, with the optimal levels being between 90 and 100 nmol/L. Most people will be unable to reach these levels with an intake between 200 and 600 IU of vitamin D.

What intake is optimal?
An intake of greater than or equal to about 1000 IU may be needed for most of the population. For postmenopausal women and older men, 25(OH)D concentrations of less than 30 to 80 nmol/L are associated with negative health outcomes.

For infants at northern latitudes, studies suggest that 200 IU vitamin D2 per day may not be enough to prevent vitamin D deficiency. A meta-analysis in adults suggested that an increased intake of vitamin D3 of 100 IU per day was associated with an increase in circulating concentration of 25(OH)D of 1 to 2 nmol/L. A recent study on women in Maine found that 800 IU of vitamin D per day was enough to reach and maintain adequate blood levels during the winter (for most of the women).

What levels of vitamin D intakes are associated with adverse effects?
Most studies do not report adverse effects with vitamin D supplementation. One study showed an increased risk of kidney stones with supplemental intakes of 400 IU vitamin D3 (along with 1000 mg calcium) each day in women aged 50 to 79 years.

The Merck Manual notes:
Taking very high daily doses of vitamin D—for example, 50 or more times the recommended daily allowance (RDA)—over several months can cause toxicity and a high calcium level in the blood (hypercalcemia).
Early symptoms are loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting, followed by excessive thirst, weakness, nervousness, and high blood pressure. Because the calcium level is high, calcium may be deposited throughout the body, particularly in the kidneys, blood vessels, lungs, and heart. The kidneys may be permanently damaged and malfunction, resulting in kidney failure.
Some studies suggest that intakes up to 10,000 IU per day have not been associated with adverse effects. If you take more than 10,000 IU per day of vitamin D orally for more than 6 months, you are definitely at risk of becoming vitamin D intoxicated. And remember, we cannot become vitamin D intoxicated from excessive sunlight.

Summary and Recommendations
Vitamin D deficiency is a disease of neglect. It’s up to us to get in the sun and/or use a quality supplement as needed. And the data seem to be pointing towards reaching “optimal” levels, not just “normal” levels.

Blood level classifications for 25(OH)D:
  • Vitamin D intoxication: >/= 375 nmol/L
  • Excess: >100 nmol/L
  • Preferred range: 75-100 nmol/L (for treating heart disease and cancer)
  • Sufficient range: 50-75 nmol/L (if you're relatively healthy)
  • Mild deficiency: 25-50 nmol/L
  • Moderate deficiency: 12.5-25 nmol/L
  • Severe deficiency: <12 nmol="">
The total requirement for vitamin D (sun and food) is about 4000 IU/day to keep 25(OH)D levels above and/or around 100 nmol/L. Treating a deficiency can require more. To normalize stores, adults require 3000-5000 IU per day for 6 to 12 weeks. As the potential for toxicity is present, work with your physician when beginning a supplementation regimen.

Based on the most recent research, the current recommendation for dosage via oral supplementation is 35 IU’s of vitamin D per pound of body weight. So for a 170-pound adult, the dose would be nearly 6,000 IU’s.

However, it’s important to realize that vitamin D requirements are highly individual, as your vitamin D status is dependent on numerous factors, such as the color of your skin, your location, and how much sunshine you’re exposed to on a regular basis.

So, although these recommendations may put you closer to the ballpark of what most people likely need, it is simply impossible to make a blanket recommendation that will cover everyone’s needs.

The only way to determine the correct dose is to get your blood tested since there are so many variables that influence your vitamin D status. The correct test your doctor needs to order is 25(OH)D, also called 25-hydroxyvitamin D, which is the better marker of overall D status. This is the marker that is most strongly associated with overall health.

Caution: Make certain that you get your vitamin D serum levels tested on a regular basis to prevent any toxicity or damage to your liver!

Vitamin D Deficiency
A diet deficient in vitamin D in conjunction with inadequate sun exposure causes osteomalacia (or rickets when it occurs in children), which is a softening of the bones. In the developed world, this is a rare disease.

However, vitamin D deficiency has become a worldwide issue in the elderly and remains common in children and adults. Low blood calcidiol (25-hydroxy-vitamin D) can result from avoiding the sun. Deficiency results in impaired bone mineralization and bone damage which leads to bone-softening diseases, including rickets or osteomalacia.

Consequently, vitamin D is vital for normal calcium metabolism, immunity, nervous system function, and bone density. But, due to our fear of the sun and because so many people live north of the equator, there is a major worldwide Vitamin D deficiency.

Note: Most people compensate by taking a Vitamin D supplement, but, recent studies show an ineffectiveness of most Vitamin D supplements as demonstrated by the increases in heart disease, cancer and diabetes (especially in African-Americans). (This will be discussed in more detail in a future post).

Medications can decrease activity of vitamin D in the body. These include anticonvulsants, bile acid sequestrants, GERD medications, corticosteroids and heparin. There is also some potential negative interactions with calcium channel blockers and diuretics, which can interfere with blood calcium levels.

People with dark skin may require 5-10 times the amount of sun exposure to produce adequate vitamin D, compared to someone with light skin pigmentation.

Why is Vitamin D So Important?
All of your body’s organs and cells have receptors for vitamin D, meaning that vitamin D communicates all around your body.  Your cells use vitamin D to directly regulate your genes, making it one of the most powerful compounds in human health.  One study with 2,100 female twins showed that having adequate vitamin D extends life by five years.  This is because vitamin D prevents excessive wear and tear to the telomers that are attached to the ends of your chromosomes and enable cell division; telomeres determine potential cell lifespan.  This is truly a new era of nutritional science.

Vitamin D must be converted into its biologically active form (1,25(OH)2D) before it goes to work.  Your kidneys are the main organs that do this for your body as a whole, but many cells have the enzymes to directly activate vitamin D.  For example, cells lining your lungs and digestive tract can activate vitamin D to help fight infection.  The vitamin D receptors (VDRs) around your body are capable of binding both the active and inactive forms of vitamin D.  Cells that activate vitamin D can also inactivate it, forming a convenient system of self-regulation based on a variety of needs.

Once vitamin D is active in cells it has one main job: activating genes.  In other words, vitamin D’s basic role in your body is to help regulate its functions at the level of gene transcription.  Because so many different tissues and types of cells use vitamin D, it can be assumed that this is a fundamental need for survival.

Your body places a high value on vitamin D and has made provisions to store it in your liver and the lining of your digestive tract5.  This vitamin D savings account can be called into action when needed, such as during the long winter months.  It is interesting that vitamin D deficiencies in your liver or digestive tract are associated with the poor health6 of both organ systems.

When your skin makes vitamin D the vitamin D turns on antioxidants within your skin to deactivate the free radicals coming from the sun’s UV radiation.  This is a natural defense mechanism (a built in sunscreen).  New science shows that only nine percent of the population has vitamin D receptors that don’t do a good job of this.  It is ridiculous to make 100 percent of the population think that routine sun exposure is a major health risk when such advice applies mostly to a small group.

Studies also reveal that low vitamin D levels in the body are associated with:
    Increased loss of muscle strength and mass as we age
    Increased risk of cancers
    Lower levels of immunity
    Higher blood pressure
    The development of neurological disorders
    The development of diabetes

Despite the importance of vitamin D, it’s estimated that anywhere from 60% to 80% of the U.S. population is vitamin D deficient. It’s likely worse among people with darker skin living in northern zones, as their skin pigmentation screens out the relatively limited sunlight more effectively.

Vitamin D levels can also be affected by age and body fat levels. As we age, our ability to make vitamin D is reduced by 75%. Furthermore, vitamin D can get trapped in body fat, leading to a 55% reduction in blood levels for those who are over-fat.

Health Benefits
Research on vitamin D, including large-scale clinical trials, is ongoing. But, the preliminary findings appear to indicate that there are multiple health benefits of Vitamin D.

According to one large-scale study, optimal Vitamin D levels can slash your risk of cancer by as much as 60 percent. Keeping your levels optimized can help prevent at least 16 different types of cancer, including pancreatic, lung, ovarian, prostate, and skin cancers. 

The many potential and projected health benefits of Vitamin D include the following:

Autoimmune disease:  Vitamin D has a dampening effect on excessive and inappropriate behavior of immune cells; it helps reduce the amount of inflammation produced by immune cells.  A vitamin D deficiency may be an underlying and possibly causative issue for almost any autoimmune problem. A theory can be put forth that vitamin D adequacy is required to prevent your immune system from going into an improper hyperactive and excessively inflammatory state – a problem that is at least a part of all diseases of aging.

Studies show vitamin D’s ability to help prevent as well as improve issues such as arthritis, autoimmune type 1 diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Individuals with any autoimmune disease should have their vitamin D levels tested by their physician; these should be corrected as a first step in seeking to improve any problem.

It is interesting that vitamin D helps both a lacking and hyperactive immune system work well.  A key theme of nutrition is that it works in your body to promote efficiency of healthy function.  In the case of vitamin D it not only boosts underperformance, bit it also quiets down excessive and improper activity.  Obviously, no drug has such intelligence. 

Although tentative data link low levels of vitamin D to asthma, evidence to support a beneficial effect from supplementation is inconclusive.

Bone health: In general, evidence supports that vitamin D can help with osteoporosis.

For older people with osteoporosis, taking vitamin D with calcium may help prevent hip fractures, but it also slightly increases the risk of stomach and kidney problems.

Athletes who are vitamin D deficient are at an increased risk of stress fractures and/or major breaks, particularly those engaging in contact sports. The greatest benefit with supplementation is seen in athletes who are deficient (25(OH)D serum levels <30 ng.="" p="">
Brain Health:  Animals research has shown that low vitamin D during pregnancy caused brain abnormalities similar to those seen in patients with schizophrenia.  Because vitamin D is involved with gene transcription in the evolving nervous system, a lack of it is bound to cause some problems.

Cancer:  One of the main functions of vitamin D is to tell your genes what to do.  Many of these functions relate to cell growth and division.  For example, adequate vitamin D is crucial to the healthy growth of your skin and hair.  In fact, a lack of vitamin D can result in an autoimmune reaction that makes your hair fall out or in disruptions to consistent skin pigmentation.

Cancer problems imply that cell division has gotten out of control in an inappropriate way.  Just as vitamin D is needed by immune cells so they don’t become hyperactive and inappropriate, so it is that vitamin D may be needed to help regulate cell growth and differentiation to keep it in a healthy condition.

A number of precise cell growth factors are favorably influenced by vitamin D, which is likely to have benefit for many kinds of cancer.  Current vitamin D cancer research has tended to focus on colon, breast, and prostate cancer.

One aspect of the current research shows that vitamin D is a partner in the antioxidant defense system of cells, helping clear them of free radicals and thereby protecting them from DNA damage that can lead to mutation.  Interestingly, vitamin D is smart enough not to protect cancer cells.  That finding, along with earlier work, led this research group to claim, “Our findings reflect what we see in those studies and demonstrate that vitamin D not only can be used as a therapy for prostate cancer, but it can also prevent prostate cancer from happening.”

Some of the newer colon cancer research finds that vitamin D turns on death signals in colon cancer cells, and works synergistically with calcium to help prevent colon cancer cells from spreading.

A definitive German study has now proven that low levels of vitamin D in premenopausal women are associated with an increased risk in breast cancer.  Compared to the women with the highest vitamin D, the increased risk ranged from 45 percent - 68 percent, depending on the amount of deficiency. 

Vitamin D may help diminish the risk of development of certain cancers including colon cancer.

Is Vitamin D the New Silver Bullet for Cancer?
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/03/11/is-vitamin-d-the-silver-bullet-for-cancer.aspx

Intake of vitamin D3 and calcium could potentially prevent 58,000 new cases of breast cancer and 49,000 new cases of colorectal cancer annually in the United States and Canada, according to a complex computer prediction model.

This model also predicted that 75 percent of deaths from these cancers could be prevented with adequate intake of vitamin D3 and calcium.

Theories linking vitamin D to certain cancers have been tested and confirmed in more than 200 epidemiological studies, and understanding of its physiological basis stems from more than 2,500 laboratory studies, according to epidemiologist Cedric Garland, DrPH, professor of family and preventive medicine at the UC San Diego School of Medicine.

Dr. Garland is widely regarded as the leading epidemiologist on vitamin D and its relation to health. He led one of the latest studies on vitamin D for cancer prevention and proposed a new model of cancer development -- dubbed DINOMIT-- that is centered on a loss of cancer cells' ability to stick together.

The model is a departure from the older model of cancer development, which centers on genetic mutations as the earliest driving forces behind cancer. According to Dr. Garland:

"The first event in cancer is loss of communication among cells due to, among other things, low vitamin D and calcium levels. In this new model, we propose that this loss may play a key role in cancer by disrupting the communication between cells that is essential to healthy cell turnover, allowing more aggressive cancer cells to take over."

Vitamin D’s protective effect against cancer works in multiple ways, including:
• Increasing the self-destruction of mutated cells (which, if allowed to replicate, could lead to cancer)
• Reducing the spread and reproduction of cancer cells
• Causing cells to become differentiated (cancer cells often lack differentiation)
• Reducing the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, which is a step in the transition of dormant tumors turning cancerous

Doctors have known that low levels of vitamin D are linked to certain kinds of cancers as well as to diabetes and asthma, but new research also shows that the vitamin can kill human cancer cells.

Another recent study suggested that vitamin D can help prevent cancer. The researchers write: “Raising the minimum year-around serum 25(OH)D level to 40 to 60 ng/mL (100–150 nmol/L) would prevent approximately 58,000 new cases of breast cancer and 49,000 new cases of colorectal cancer each year, and three fourths of deaths from these diseases in the United States and Canada… Such intakes also are expected to reduce case-fatality rates of patients who have breast, colorectal, or prostate cancer by half. There are no unreasonable risks from intake of 2000 IU per day of vitamin D3 , or from a population serum 25(OH)D level of 40 to 60 ng/mL.”

One review in 2014 suggested that vitamin D3 may slightly decrease the risk of death from cancer (one fewer death in 150 people over 5 years), but concerns with the quality of the data were noted.

2015 research vitamin D has been effective at controlling low grade prostate cancers after diagnosis, without the need for orthodox treatment. All of which really does make a nonsense of health bodies and cancer charities who tell you to stay out of the sun because you might get skin cancer!

In 2014 vitamin D was shown to make certain chemo drugs work better, and researchers in America are proposing to use it as part of a hormone therapy package with breast cancer patients.

Cancer patients with high vitamin D levels live longer.
http://sciencenordic.com/cancer-patients-high-vitamin-d-levels-live-longer

Why vitamin D matters for cancer patients.
http://www.cancercenter.com/community/newsletter/july-2013/vitamin-d-and-cancer/
http://www.life-saving-naturalcures-and-naturalremedies.com/natural-cancer-cures-vitamin-d.html

Cardiovascular disease: Vitamin D provides health benefits to the cardiovascular system by helping to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke, cerebrovascular disease, cardial infarction, or ischaemic heart disease.

Researchers at the University of Michigan have nicknamed vitamin D “the heart tranquilizer” because it helps keep your heart from working so hard and swelling in size.  Their findings indicate that vitamin D can help prevent heart failure.

Vitamin D has also been shown to improve blood flow in your extremities, helping improve what researchers call peripheral artery disease (PAD).  Researchers evaluated 4,839 U.S. adults and found those with the best vitamin D levels had the least amount of PAD.

Vitamin D Helps Prevent Heart Disease, Diabetes
Further, middle aged and elderly people with high levels of vitamin D could reduce their chances of developing heart disease or diabetes by 43 percent, according to researchers.

A systematic literature review of the relationship between vitamin D and cardiometabolic disorders looked at 28 studies including nearly 100,000 participants.

The studies revealed a significant association between high levels of vitamin D and a decreased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.

All studies included were published between 1990 and 2009, with the majority published between 2004 and 2009. Half of the studies were conducted in the United States, eight were European, two studies were from Iran, three from Australasia and one from India.

Dementia: A systematic review of clinical studies shows an association between low vitamin D levels, cognitive impairment, and a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Depression: Clinical trials of vitamin D supplementation for participants with clinically significant depressive symptoms or depressive disorder had a moderate effect.

Low vitamin D is associated with depression in older Americans.

An interesting study compared vitamin D levels in older Americans to those with Parkinson’s33 and Alzheimer’s disease.  Patients with Parkinson’s were 55 percent more likely to be low in vitamin D.

Thus, if your hands are a bit shaky and/or your mood is a bit off then maybe you could use a little more vitamin D.

Diabetes: Vitamin D is believed to help improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin – the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels – and thus reduce the risk of insulin resistance, which is often a precursor to type 2 diabetes.

Some scientists also believe this vitamin may help regulate the production of insulin in the pancreas.

Vitamin D levels should ideally be between 20-56 ng/ml (50-140 nmol/l)*, with anything below 20 ng/ml considered deficient.

However, it is now known that raising the amount of vitamin D in your body to around 60-80 ng/ml can help keep blood glucose levels under control, which is vital for people with diabetes.

*Note: The correct level of vitamin D varies from person to person. The only way to be sure that your vitamin D levels are where they should be is to request a 25-hydroxyvitamin D, or 25(OH)D, blood test from your GP. Ideally your blood level of 25 OH D should be 60ng/ml.

Immune system:  The front line troops (immune cells) of your innate immune system use vitamin D to help mount an immune response against invading bacteria.  These immune cells use vitamin D to produce a germ-killing compound called cathelicidin.  Your immune cells then release cathelicidin to kill bacteria.  This is a process that does not work if there is a lack of vitamin D.  Its bacteria killing properties have been known for some time and have even been used to help kill tuberculosis.

In general, vitamin D functions to activate the innate and dampen the adaptive immune systems. Deficiency has been linked to slow wound healing and increased risk of viral infections, including HIV and influenza. Low levels of vitamin D appear to be a risk factor for tuberculosis, and historically it was used as a treatment.

According to research from the University of Copenhagen in 2010, when T-lymphocytes of the immune system come across a pathogen, the first thing they do is bind to a vitamin D molecule to ´activate´ themselves.

Certain immune cells (B cells and T cells) have vitamin D receptors and can respond to calcitriol whereas some phagocytes can convert 25-hydroxyvitamin D into calcitriol. This suggests that phagocytes may communicate with T and B cells through calcitriol.

Recent studies covered in Cancer Watch suggest that the action of vitamin D is enhanced by vitamin K. Most adults are increasingly short of both D and K vitamins.

2012 research from the University of Carolina showed that children with low blood levels of vitamin D were more likely to become critically ill.

T Cell Activation:  Scientists from the Department of International Health, Immunology and Microbiology have discovered that Vitamin D is crucial to activating our immune defenses and that without sufficient intake of the vitamin, the killer cells of the immune system - T cells - will not be able to react to and fight off serious, life-threatening infections in the body.

For T cells to detect and kill foreign pathogens such as clumps of bacteria or deadly viruses, the cells must first be ‘triggered' into action and ‘transform' from inactive and harmless immune cells into killer cells that are primed to seek out and destroy all traces of a foreign pathogen.

The researchers found that the T cells rely on vitamin D in order to activate and they would remain dormant, ‘naïve' to the possibility of threat if vitamin D is lacking in the blood.

T cells that are successfully activated transform into one of two types of immune cell. They either become killer cells that will attack and destroy all cells carrying traces of a foreign pathogen or they become helper cells that assist the immune system in acquiring "memory". The helper cells send messages to the immune system, passing on knowledge about the pathogen so that the immune system can recognize and remember it at their next encounter and launch a more efficient and enhanced immune response. T cells form part of the adaptive immune system, which means that they function by teaching the immune system to recognize and adapt to constantly changing threats.

Obesity: Vitamin D levels are low in obese adults.  It is well known that vitamin D helps stimulate the release of insulin from your pancreas.  A lack of vitamin D drastically increases the risk for type 1 diabetes and is likely involved with the insulin and leptin resistance that eventually causes type 2 diabetes.  A lot more work is needed in this area to fully understand these issues, but here is what we know so far:

The further you live from the equator the higher your risk for getting type 1 diabetes.  If you live in Finland your risk goes up four hundredfold.  How vitamin D protects the beta cells of your pancreas is not known, but it likely dampens inflammatory immune signals and boosts antioxidant protection – as it has been shown to do in other areas of your body.

Pooled data from existing studies shows that a child supplemented with vitamin D is 30 percent less likely to develop type I diabetes even as an adult.  In a very large Finnish study those infants and children who consistently took 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day had a 78 percent reduced risk of type 1 diabetes.

Many overweight people are low in vitamin D. Correcting vitamin D deficiency has been shown to improve insulin resistance, which gives vitamin D a role in also helping prevent type 2 diabetes (the most common form).

New research shows that vitamin D is metabolically active within your stored fat, although we don’t know exactly what it is doing.  We know from earlier research that vitamin D helps reduce excess leptin from fat.  High leptin lowers another fat hormone called adiponectin, which we know must be at higher levels to prevent insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.  While there is a lot more about this to learn, it appears that adequate vitamin D is helpful for healthy blood sugar and fat metabolism.

If you are struggling with weight or the health of your pancreas it may be another sign that some extra vitamin D is needed.

Weight Loss: Studies have shown that good vitamin D status helps to reduce parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels, which in the long-term may promote weight loss and reduce risk of obesity, which is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

Regulate appetite: Vitamin D can increase your body’s levels of the hormone leptin, which controls body fat storage and triggers the sensation of satiety, giving the feeling of having eaten enough and thus lowering hunger levels.

Reduce belly fat: An increase in vitamin D can help lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone produced in the adrenal glands. Cortisol is involved in a number of important functions, including the body's response to stress and regulation of blood pressure. But higher and more prolonged levels of the hormone in the blood can lead to increased abdominal (or visceral) fat, which is linked to various health conditions including diabetes type 2.

More Evidence of Vitamin D Health Benefits
The evidence keeps growing that vitamin D is a superstar for your health. Here is a website that has compiled more than 800 top references proving beyond a doubt that Vitamin D is a necessity in fighting heart disease, diabetes, cancer, autoimmune diseases, obesity, etc..
http://www.mercola.com/Article/Vitamin-D-References.htm

Vitamin D Deficiency
Most of us don't have an obvious Vitamin D deficiency. However, our Vitamin D levels may not be high enough to fight diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Unfortunately, most physicians aren’t aware of this problem and don’t understand the problems it can cause. Vitamin D Research is finding that Low Vitamin D is a widespread problem that has a lot of serious consequences of which we are just beginning to understand.

Scientists are just beginning to put all of the pieces together, but the first symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency could be:
-- Asthma
-- Cancer (Bone, Breast, Colon, Lung, Ovarian, Prostate)
-- Chronic Fatigue
-- Colds and Flu Symptoms
-- Depression
-- Heart Failure and Cardiomyopathy
-- High Cholesterol
-- Multiple Sclerosis
-- Obesity
-- Osteoporosis
-- Periodontal Disease and Cavities   

While these are complicated diseases and there are obviously other factors involved in any individual’s risk, it’s true that a common risk factor for each and every one of these diseases happens to be a Low Vitamin D level!!

While the Low Vitamin D levels found in these diseases doesn’t necessarily mean that they cause these diseases, there must be some connection. And, if you take into account that low Vitamin D weakens the Immune System and some most diseases are related to a failed immune response – you can start to see that some of these diseases could be associated with a Vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin A and Vitamin D Activation
One of the reasons why we may not be reaping the tremendous health benefits of Vitamin D is due to our bodies not having enough Vitamin A. Most of us rely on getting our Vitamin A by eating yellow and orange vegetables, which contain carotenoids that are converted to Vitamin A. Unfortunately, recent studies indicate that our bodies are converting less than 20% of the carotenoids to Vitamin A.

Vitamins A and D are both precursors to active hormones that regulate the expression of genes. The body possesses certain enzymes that convert each of these in a two-step process to their active forms:
-- Vitamin A is converted to retinal and then to active retinoic acid
-- Vitamin D is converted to calcidiol and then to active calcitriol.

While directly consuming either retinoic acid or calcitriol would be unnatural, consuming vitamins A and D, together, as in cod liver oil, is perfectly natural. Remember when your mother gave you a teaspoon of cod liver every morning before you went to school? (yuck!)

In order for vitamin D to activate the expression of its target genes, it must bind to the vitamin D receptor (VDR) and then combine with the retinoid X receptor (RXR), which is activated by a particular form of vitamin A called 9-cis retinoic acid. Researchers recently showed that vitamin D can only activate target genes when its receptor is activated by vitamin A. In the absence of vitamin A, molecules called “corepressors” bind to the VDR/RXR complex and prevent vitamin D from functioning!

The RXR and its activator retinoic acid partner up not only with the vitamin D receptor, but also with the receptors for steroid hormones, thyroid hormone, and most other nuclear receptors.

Researchers have shown that retinoic acid interferes with the ability of vitamin D to stimulate the production of osteocalcin, a vitamin K-dependent protein involved in organizing the mineralized matrix of bone. When scientists incubate cells with activated vitamin D and retinoic acid, the two hormones stimulate the production of osteocalcin with remarkable synergy.

Research References:
EMBO Rep. 2006 Oct;7(10):1030-4. Epub 2006 Aug 25.
The retinoid X receptor ligand restores defective signalling by the vitamin D receptor.
Sánchez-Martínez R1, Castillo AI, Steinmeyer A, Aranda A.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16936639?

Vitamin D-Dependent Recruitment of Corepressors to Vitamin D/Retinoid X Receptor Heterodimers.
Ruth Sánchez-Martínez†, Alberto Zambrano†, Ana I. Castillo and Ana Aranda
http://mcb.asm.org/content/28/11/3817.full?

Vitamin D Supplementation
Most people take a Vitamin D supplement in the form of a tablet or capsule because of the difficulty of getting enough sunlight.

However, we do not reap the benefits of Vitamin D because of several mistakes that we make when taking Vitamin D supplements.

In fact, recent studies show an ineffectiveness of most Vitamin D supplements as demonstrated by the increases in heart disease, cancer and diabetes (especially in African-Americans, who are the Number 1 or Number 2 risk group for many of these lifestyle-driven diseases).

Vitamin D Supplement Mistakes
Mistake #1: Taking supplements that are synthetic. 

Mistake #2: Taking Vitamin D2 instead of Vitamin D3.
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/02/23/oral-vitamin-d-mistake.aspx
https://www.drfuhrman.com/library/vitamin_d2_d3.aspx
http://saveourbones.com/the-huge-difference-between-vitamins-d3-and-d2-and-why-you-should-never-take-d2/

Mistake #3: Taking the wrong dosage.

Mistake #4: Not getting enough Vitamin A from our diet.

Mistake #5: Taking the wrong form of Vitamin A or avoiding Vitamin A supplements because of the toxicity issue.

Mistake #6:  Not eating foods that contain Vitamin K2 or not taking a Vitamin K2 supplement.
FYI: Vitamin K2 helps to ensure that calcium does not end up in your arteries, which can lead to atherosclerosis. .

Summary
Vitamin D does so many things helpful to your health that you absolutely do not want to run short of it.  Government recommendations for dietary intake of vitamin D are too low, especially for the winter months when vitamin D is so important to the function of your immune system.

Resource Links:
Vitamin D has been found to influence over 200 genes, highlighting links to multiple diseases.
http://www.well.ox.ac.uk/aug-10-vitamin-d-influences-over-200-genes

The Overlooked Importance of Vitamin D Receptors
http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2013/8/The-Overlooked-Importance-of-Vitamin-D-Receptors/Page-01

Vitamin D and Cardiovascular Health
http://m.circ.ahajournals.org/content/128/23/2517.extract
http://www.hindawi.com/journals/scientifica/2013/620504/
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/10/19/vitamin-d-vitamin-k2.aspx

Vitamin D and the Immune System
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166406/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21527855
https://chronicillnessrecovery.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=162
http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-vitamin-d-influences-the-bodys-immune-system.html
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/another-reason-vitamin-d-is-important-it-gets-t-cells-going/ 

References:
  1. ^ Vitamin D is Vital to Bone Health  Nat Clin Pract Rheumatol.  Wolff AE, Jones AN, Hansen KE; Medscape.
  2. ^ Vitamin D Deficiency Pandemic  Mol Aspects Med.   Holick MF.
  3. ^ Adequate Vitamin D Extends Lifespan  American Jounal of Clinical Nutrition  Richards JB, Valdes AM, Gardner JP, Paximadas D, Kimura M, Nessa A, Lu X, Surdulescu GL, Swaminathan R, Spector TD, Aviv A.
  4. ^ How Vitamin D Works in Your Body  J Clin Endocrinol Metab.  Bikle D.
  5. ^ Vitamin D is Stored in Multiple Locations Along Your Digestive Tract  Eur J Drug Metab Pharmacokinet.   Stumpf WE.
  6. ^ Vitamin D Lacking In Serious Liver and Digestive Problems  73rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology.  
  7. ^ Vitamin D Protects Against UV Damage  J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol.   Dixon KM, Deo SS, Wong G, Slater M, Norman AW, Bishop JE, Posner GH, Ishizuka S, Halliday GM, Reeve VE, Mason RS.
  8. ^ Skin Cancer a Risk for Only 9%  Cancer.   Mocellin S, Nitti D
  9. ^ Vitamin D Intake of 2000 IU May Be Needed    Anthony Norman
  10. ^ Vitamin D at 2000 IU Needed for Children  J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab.  Joyce Maalouf, Mona Nabulsi, Reinhold Vieth, Samantha Kimball, Rola El-Rassi, Ziyad Mahfoud, and Ghada El-Hajj Fuleihan. 
  11. ^ 400 IU of Vitamin D Is Not Enough for Kids  Department of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.  Rajakumar K, Fernstrom JD, Holick MF, Janosky JE, Greenspan SL.
  12. ^ 800 IU Vitamin D Is Not Enough for Pregnancy  Clin Endocrinol (Oxf).  Yu CK, Sykes L, Sethi M, Teoh TG, Robinson S.
  13. ^ Mom’s Vitamin D Status Affects Baby’s Dental Health  86th General Session of the International Association for Dental Research.  R. Schroth, et al.
  14. ^ Young Men Need 700-800 IU of Vitamin D in the Winter  J Bone Miner Res.  Viljakainen HT, Väisänen M, Kemi V, Rikkonen T, Kröger H, Laitinen E, Rita H, Lamberg-Allardt C.
  15. ^ Mayo Clinic Likes Vitamin D    Mayo Clinic Press Release
  16. ^ How Vitamin D Works in Your Body  J Clin Endocrinol Metab.  Bikle D.
  17. ^ Vitamin D Helps Skin Immunity  Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology  Richard Gallo, et al.
  18. ^ Vitamin D Helps Lung Immunity  Journal of Immunology   Sif Hansdottir, et al.
  19. ^ How Vitamin D Works in Your Body  J Clin Endocrinol Metab.  Bikle D.
  20. ^ Vitamin D and Prostate Cancer  International Journal of Cancer  Yi-Fen Lee, et al.
  21. ^ Vitamin D and Calcium in the War on Colon Cancer  American Association for Cancer Research meeting in San Diego.  
  22. ^ Vitamin D and Breast Cancer Risk  Int J Cancer.   Abbas S, Chang-Claude J, Linseisen J.
  23. ^ Vitamin D and Type I Diabetes  Diabetologia  Cedric F. Garland, et al.
  24. ^ Vitamin D Cuts Risk for Type I Diabetes  BMJ  
  25. ^ Vitamin D Reduces Type I Diabetes by 78%  Lancet.  Hyppönen E, Läärä E, Reunanen A, Järvelin MR, Virtanen SM.
  26. ^ Insulin Resistance and Vitamin D  Curr Diab Rep.   Holick MF.
  27. ^ Vitamin D is Active in Stored Fat  J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol.   Li J, Byrne ME, Chang E, Jiang Y, Donkin SS, Buhman KK, Burgess JR, Teegarden D.
  28. ^ Vitamin D Reduces Leptin from Fat   J Endocrinol.   Menendez C, Lage M, Peino R, Baldelli R, Concheiro P, Diéguez C, Casanueva FF.
  29. ^ Vitamin D Protects Your Heart  Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology  Robert Simpson, Peter Mancuso, Ayesha Rahman, Stephen D. Hershey, Loredana Dandu, and Karl A. Nibbelink..
  30. ^ Vitamin D Helps Your Circulation  American Heart Association’s Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology Annual Conference 2008.  Michal Melamed, et al.
  31. ^ Schizophrenia and Prenatal Vitamin D Status    
  32. ^ Vitamin D and Depression  Arch Gen Psychiatry.  Witte J. G. Hoogendijk, et al.
  33. ^ Vitamin D and Parkinson Disease  Arch Neurol.  Evatt ML, Delong MR, Khazai N, Rosen A, Triche S, Tangpricha V.
Note: Studies have shown that vitamin D3 appears to be more than three times as effective as vitamin D2, but most products that include the words “good source of vitamin D” or “fortified with vitamin D” on their labels contain the hugely inferior vitamin D2.

Note: For most of these ailments, further research is needed to determine if the association represents a cause and effect relationship.

FYI: Vitamin D2 was chemically characterized in 1931. In 1935, the chemical structure of vitamin D3 was established and proven to result from the ultraviolet irradiation of 7-dehydrocholesterol.