Vitamin D & Chronic Lung Disease
Obviously you need healthy and high functioning lungs in order to live well. And to have those great lungs, you need adequate levels of vitamin D.
Low Vitamin D is more common in people than you might think. According to the American Lung Association, 35 million Americans suffer from a preventable form of chronic lung disease. And lung diseases were the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2017. Put that together with widespread vitamin D deficiency and it starts to become clear that vitamin D is a massive factor in the health of your lungs.
Only in the last 10 years has significant research been focused on vitamin D and shown that a lack of it can be devastating to human health. Some studies have shown that low vitamin D levels are associated with respiratory problems like asthma, bronchitis, poor lung function, and more.
The research also shows the flip side – that healthy lung function is related to optimal levels of vitamin D.
Respiratory Health Very Much Depends on Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a key substance that goes a long way in dictating the health of your entire body. You need it for bone health, brain health, and immune function. Recent studies have confirmed that vitamin D’s anti-inflammatory properties support your respiratory system – your lungs, along with all the passageways, vessels, and muscles involved in breathing and oxygen exchange. Every cell in your body performs this gas exchange, where your cells can receive oxygen and get rid of waste. Your respiratory system also regulates the temperature and moisture of the air you breathe, and protects you by filtering out harmful substances. So proper function is vital to your life.
Some of the most common lung conditions are asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). About three million new cases of COPD are diagnosed every year. COPD is actually several diseases that block or obstruct the normal airflow exchange in the lungs. The two most common diseases that are included under COPD are emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Another lung condition is interstitial lung disease, of which 200,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the U.S. Interstitial lung disease is a group of disorders that causes irreversible scarring and stiffening of the lungs so breathing normally is impossible.
Here’s the news as it relates to vitamin D. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University reviewed medical data from more than 6,000 adults over a 10-year period and found low vitamin D levels were a common factor in the development of interstitial lung disease. Almost 40% of the subjects in the study were deficient in vitamin D and the ones with the lowest vitamin D levels had the most lung scarring.
THE LINK BETWEEn VITAMIN D and COVID-19
Immunity is a big topic these days! With the concern of COVID-19’s respiratory effects, optimizing vitamin D levels is an urgent matter.
If you have any doubt about the link between vitamin D status and COVID-19 outcomes, consider the heavy research. There are nearly 50 (and counting) patient studies conducted so far with a common conclusion – Poor vitamin D status is strongly associated with COVID-19 mortality outcome.
Vitamin D’s power to influence immunity has long been known. However, it seems that now more than ever, researchers and medical experts are supporting vitamin D supplementation to potentially offset the threat of COVID-19’s complications.
Vitamin D plays a direct role in how well your immune system functions. Have an optimal level could truly be the difference between life or death.
Here are 5 ways in which vitamin D acts on your immune system:
1. Receptors are found in most immune cells
2. Helps your immune system respond appropriately (it’s an immune system modulator)
3. Stimulates the expression of anti-viral or anti-microbial peptides (AVPs and AMPs are molecules that combat invading pathogens)
4. Reduces the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines
5. Suppresses the development of autoimmune diseases (a condition in which your immune system attacks your own body)
Suboptimal Levels of Vitamin D Is Extremely Common
Some experts estimate that 80% of people have vitamin D levels that are too low. There are several reasons for this, including living and working indoors under artificial lights and loading up on sunscreen when going outside.
Historically, our bodies have developed for millions of years exposed to sunlight about half the day each day – without sunscreen. So, living like we do today, it’s pretty much impossible to get enough vitamin D from sun exposure alone.
Because medical doctors don’t typically check vitamin D levels, this problem has grown – and continues to get worse.
When Getting Tested For A Deficiency
A simple blood test (called the 25-hydroxy-vitamin D test) can determine your status. I will put it politely as I can in case your doctor doesn’t really know what he/she is talking about when it comes to vitamin D. On your vitamin D blood test, you want to see a level between 60 and 90 nanograms per milliliter. Sometimes the lab reports or the doctor will be okay with levels perhaps as low as 20 or 30 – but I can’t imagine what the reasoning behind that would be.
Symptoms Of Low Vitamin D
Symptoms can include:
- Getting sick frequently
- Fatigue or feeling tired often
- Back pain
- Bone pain
- Muscle pain
- Depression (it’s often worse in winter when you get less sun exposure)
- Hair loss
- Bone loss
- Impaired wound healing.
Who’s Most Likely To Be Deficient?
People most at risk of vitamin D deficiency typically fall into one or more of these categories:
- Over 50
- Have darker skin (these people require long longer periods of sun exposure to make adequate levels of vitamin D)
- Spend little time outside
- Typically wear sunscreen when outside – which includes certain makeup products.
How To Boost Your Vitamin D Levels
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