You Probably Have Low Levels of This Immunity Vitamin
Often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D is actually a hormone that should be called the “immunity vitamin” thanks to its positive effects on the immune system. It also plays an essential role in overall brain health, mood, memory, weight, and other important bodily processes.
How Low Levels of Vitamin D Harm Health
Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with approximately 200 conditions, including brain health/mental health issues (depression, autism, and psychosis), autoimmune diseases (MS, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes), as well as heart disease, cancer, and obesity. The link between vitamin D and mental health is strong, and over half of psychiatric inpatients are deficient in vitamin D. Low vitamin D has also been associated with memory problems and dementia.
The Protective Effects of the Immunity Vitamin
A growing body of research supports the possible role of vitamin D in protecting against autoimmune diseases, depression, cognitive function, and more. A 2008 study followed 441 overweight and obese adults with depression for one year. The individuals who took vitamin D (20,000 IU or 40,000 IU per week) reported a significant decrease in their symptoms, but those who took a placebo did not see such improvement. In a Swiss study, people who took vitamin D over a month had a significant drop in fatigue.
The Vitamin D Epidemic
At Amen Clinics, we test the vitamin D levels of all of our patients, and a staggering number of them have low levels. A report that looked at vitamin D levels for American adults in 1988-1994 compared with 2001-2004 showed that our levels are dropping. The percentage of people with levels of 30 ng/mL or more fell from 45% to 23%.
This means that 3 out of 4 Americans have low levels of this important vitamin. In part, this is due to the fact that we are spending more time indoors and using more sunscreen when we’re outdoors. The following groups are more likely to experience vitamin D deficiency:
- Older adults
- People with darker skin (reduced ability to make vitamin D from sunlight)
- People with limited sun exposure (think Northern latitudes)
- People taking certain medications, such as antihypertensives, antidiabetics, or benzodiazepines
- People with fat malabsorption syndrome, such as liver disease, cystic fibrosis, and Crohn’s disease
- People who are obese or who have undergone gastric bypass surgery
Excerpted from “The End of Mental Illness” by Daniel G. Amen, MD. At Amen Clinics, our psychiatrists and Integrative and Functional Medicine physicians treat a wide range of conditions and make recommendations for pro-active therapies to enhance or restore the immune system. For more information, speak to a specialist today at 888-288-9834. If all our specialists are busy helping others, you can also schedule a time to talk.